After sitting on Gilroy’s city council for over a decade, Peter Arellano has his sights on a new seat, and it’s currently occupied by Mayor Al Pinheiro. The councilman and longtime resident officially declared his candidacy for mayor of Gilroy during his final exploratory committee meeting Tuesday night.
The news may be confusing for a number of people who apparently thought the councilman was already a contender in the mayoral race.
“I don’t know how to take it. Even people close to me say, ‘Well, you are running, right?’ And I go ‘No, I haven’t decided.’ As much as almost a week ago someone asked me,” Arellano said. “Have I been thinking about it for the last three months or more? Yes. Have I decided to run in the last couple of weeks? Probably in the last couple of weeks, but I hadn’t told anybody.”
The misconception may have developed when news broke that Arellano was forming an exploratory committee in March, or when his name was casually mentioned along with Gilroy's other mayoral candidates, according to Arellano's campaign communications representative, Vince D. Monroy.
However, at that time, the Kaiser Permanente physician was only forming the committee to see whether he’d have enough support to justify his candidacy. He still needed to determine what he wanted to do with his job, career and other commitments before hitting the campaign trail.
“I had to look at, ‘What am I planning on doing with my job? What am I going to do with my career?’ I was thinking about retiring—do I retire now, do I retire after the election, do I retire next year? So I had a lot of personal things I had to look at,” he said. “And everything lined up, all my personal questions have been answered and I think I have enough support out in the community that I’ve decided to run.”
Arellano’s entry into the mayoral race makes him the lone Democrat running against Republicans Dion Bracco and Don Gage. Arellano would have been running against independent Perry Woodward as well, but the City of Gilroy councilman announced Thursday that he's dropping out of the mayoral race.
"As of this morning, I have decided to run for re-election as a council member this fall, instead of seeking the mayor’s seat. I have also endorsed Don Gage for mayor," Woodward wrote in an email.
If elected, Arellano would be the first Mexican-American in Gilroy’s history to serve as mayor, Monroy said. Arellano is focusing on the issues of neighborhood safety, improving Gilroy’s education system, jobs, and preserving the city’s open space, among a handful of others.
“In recent years, Gilroy has experienced the highest unemployment rate, one of the highest crime rates and a challenged education system,” Monroy wrote in a prepared statement. “Council Member Arellano is committed to utilizing local government resources to lead Gilroy into an era of great prosperity and quality of life.”
The , and will be addressed during a gathering at the old Joe’s Italian Restaurant on Saturday, April 28. Arellano is expected to outline his plans for the future of Gilroy and roll out the timeline of his campaign during the gathering.