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September 23, 2023

Q & A with Terri Aulman

Why are you running?
I am running for City Council because I have the background in business, state and local government to be an effective council member and I have a passion to serve my community.
I had a 30 year career with IBM as a first and second line manager, managing a variety of organizations and multi-million dollar budgets.
I worked for State Assemblyman Guy Houston as a field representative.  I worked closely with the State and local governments, represented the Assemblyman on various task forces and committees and presented legislative updates to local city councils.
I am currently Chair of the Gilroy Planning Commission.
What are your three priorities?
Maintain a balanced budget, hold the line on taxes, fees and unnecessary regulations and support for small business.
What is your opinion of the current relationship between City Council and City Administration?
My personal observation in attending City Council meetings is that overall there is a good working relationship. In my role as Chair of the Planning Commission I have found City Administration to be very helpful in answering questions and discussing issues. They have been open my suggestions for improvements in the process.
Are there further pension reforms the city should do? If so, what?
The city has made progress in cost reductions through employee concession agreements and downsizing but must continue to monitor this based on the economic environment, demand for city services and revenue.   We need to manage our costs and in today’s environment that means we have to work to bring public employee pensions in line with the reality of our economic environment and long term sustainability of those obligations.  CalPers recently lowered their funds assumed rate of return to 7.5 percent from 7.75 percent.  Some would argue it would be more realistic at 4.5 percent.  As the assumed rate drops, state agencies and local government employers using CalPers must pay more to the fund to manage retirement benefits.  This is definitely an area of concern that must be close monitored and appropriate changes made as needed.
Is there a one-time city expenditure you believe is wasteful?
I am not aware of any wasteful expenditures.
Do you think Gilroy has a self-esteem problem?
No.  Gilroy is a unique community.  We have maintained a small town atmosphere; have good teachers for our children and many opportunities for our kids to participate in sports and other positive activities.  We have the outlets, our wonderful local wineries, good restaurants, the Garlic Festival and Gilroy Gardens. I fully support the efforts to improve our downtown. Through creative ideas and partnerships with the City and private groups we can develop and implement ideas to bring businesses to downtown and make our downtown not only the place to be for our residents but a destination point for visitors.
Gilroy has the highest unemployment rate in the county.  What role does the city council play in ameliorating that?
We need jobs. I want to ensure that our city processes, fees and regulations are business friendly and competitive and to explore possible incentives to encourage businesses to come to Gilroy.  Our November ballot has many increases in taxes for the voters to consider.  I believe that in today’s environment we can’t keep going back to the citizens for more money to fix systemic government problems.  I will hold the line on any increases in taxes and fees for Gilroy which will have negative impact on our citizens who are already stretched.
What volunteer activities are you involved in?
Chair of the Gilroy Planning Commission, President of the Gilroy Exchange Club
President of the Village Green Homeowner’s Association, Board member of the Gilroy Sister Cities Organization, Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, Member of the Downtown Paseo Committee and Volunteer at the Welcome Center
What are two of your favorite movies? Why?
I am not a big movie buff but my favorite all-time movie is “The Sound of Music.”  I love the music and scenery but most important it is a message of faith, hope and courage.  I spend most of my free entertainment hours reading.
Should the City Council have supported the Gilroy Unified School District’s effort to place a sales tax measure on the ballot?
While I believe it is important for the entire community, including the City Council to be involved to provide the best education for our children, I would not have supported the effort to put another tax burden on our citizens and businesses. We already have one of the highest sales tax rates in the state and a12.4 percent unemployment in Gilroy which is higher than the state.
All entities of government need to reevaluate how they are providing services and look for more ways to streamline their processes.  We need to rein in costs not raise taxes.
Is the City solely responsible to fix all the buckling sidewalks in Gilroy?
The city basically has an 80/20 program for the problem. According to the New Sidewalk Replacement Program, under state law, the owner of the property is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk, curb and gutter and park strip area. Also, the property owner is only responsible for 50 percent of the sidewalk replacement cost.  So essentially the property owner takes care of the 50 percent of the sidewalk repairs and the city pays the other 50 percent and handles curb/gutter, trees, park strip, handicap ramps and driveway costs. The city recently did a survey and sent letters to the affected residents. Once the residents understood the 80/20 plan they were overall very positive. I think this is a very generous offer. 

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