Mayor Brent Ives seeks his third two-year term following 14 years on the City Council and six as a member of city committees, while Linda Gonzalez hopes to unseat the incumbent for her first term on the dais at City Hall.
Gonzalez, who lived in Tracy for a year in 2003 and returned almost two years ago, said even though she hasn’t held an elected office at the municipal level, she’s been into politics since an early age, when she was a page in the Washington state Senate.
“I got bit by the bug early on,” she said.
The 54-year-old mother of two said she wants to take a fresh set of eyes to City Hall and pledged to open up lines of communication between her, city staff and residents.
“I’ve always been a bridge-builder,” she said. “I think communication is key.”
Ives, xx, is a lifelong Tracy resident with intimate knowledge of how the city works. He said his focus, if elected to another term, would be on several goals: “right-sizing” City Hall; refining and continuing the city’s economic development strategy; and providing leadership on a City Council that will welcome two new members.
“Job one is really working us through this economy,” Ives said.
He said that includes moving along projects like the Gateway business park, infrastructure for industry in western Tracy and breathing life into downtown.
“There’s so many exciting things going on” in terms of economic development, he said, adding that the city is well-positioned in comparison with other cities in the area. “(Tracy is) the only city in the county with an economic development department.”
During the next two years, Ives also sees the need to prepare for when residential building might begin again, as the de-facto building moratorium of slow-growth law Measure A will ease in 2012.
Gonzalez, an entrepreneur and mortgage modification specialist, said long-term thinking is good, but people are suffering and need immediate help. She also said focusing on residential building should not be one of the city’s priorities, as there are still foreclosed houses on the market.
“People are hurting now,” she said.
Gonzalez explained that by pulling people together, Tracy can find solutions to its problems.
“It’s coming to the table, whether it be the faith community, whether it be the homeless coalition — no matter who it is, we keep coming to the table and work through it,” she said. “That’s what you do at home.”
Ives said that his familiarity with city government and experience — in transportation, residential growth and economic development — is one of the many things he takes to the table in this election.
“I think it’s important right now,” he said. “… I think you’d lose some amount of value in terms of the experience I’ve had.”
Gonzalez, however, sees her newcomer status as an advantage.
“People have said to me, ‘You don’t have political experience.’ Well, to me, that’s almost a blessing right now, because I’m able to ask questions.”
In contrast to mayoral elections in the recent past, the campaign between Ives and Gonzalez has been a relatively low-spending affair, with the main debate between the candidates at a Tracy Press-sponsored forum on Monday, Oct. 11, when the pair answered questions from the newspaper and the audience.
According to the most recent campaign finance report documents, Ives’ election committee had raised $1,693 this year through Oct. 5 and had spent $1,514 on various campaign expenses.
Gonzalez planned to raise less than $1,000 for her mayoral bid, and so did not have to file as comprehensive a financial statement as Ives.