.Gilroy Councilmember Rebeca Armendariz Says She Will Not Resign

If recall effort qualifies, Gilroy councilmember says she won’t resign

Following a testy Oct. 3 meeting where a majority of the Gilroy City Council requested she relinquish her seat if a recall effort against her qualifies for the ballot, Councilmember Rebeca Armendariz said she will not resign from her position.

Of the 23 people who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, most implored Armendariz not to resign. Many others in a divided audience shouted out throughout the 50-minute discussion, either in support of Armendariz or for the recall.

As the discussion was winding down, Mayor Marie Blankley and Councilmembers Dion Bracco, Peter Leroe-Muñoz, Carol Marques and Fred Tovar directed the mayor to draft a formal request for resignation if the recall effort collects the required signatures. Armendariz and Councilmember Zach Hilton did not give a thumbs-up for the decision.

The recall effort began in April, after an administrative investigation by Hanson Bridgett concluded that Armendariz violated several city ordinances when she helped organize a 2021 Halloween party at her residence in which two people were shot and killed and two others were injured.

The family of Jesse Sanchez, one of the men who was shot at the party and later died, filed a wrongful death suit in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Aug. 22, which names Rebeca, Augustina and Domingo Armendariz, along with the City of Gilroy, as the defendants.

“As councilmembers we have heard the many voices who have questions about the financial consequences already brought on the city and criticism for remaining silent while the recall effort proceeds and the financial burdens to the public continues to mount,” Blankley said.

Blankley said the request would be made if proponents of the recall initiative gather enough signatures to make it on the ballot, but before a costly special election moves forward.

Proponents have until Oct. 12 to gather at least 6,217 signatures, or 20% of the 31,082 registered voters in Gilroy city limits, in the hopes of placing the initiative on a future ballot.

In a letter posted to the city’s website, City Clerk Thai Nam Pham wrote that a special election could cost the city between $1,243,274-$2,020,320, according to figures by the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.

“I didn’t ask for this recall, just like I didn’t ask for that party,” Armendariz said. “I think the folks who want the recall, as much as I appreciate their engagement in the community and the democratic process, have every right and opportunity to withdraw their petition at any time. That money used for this election, we could use for the unhoused, we could use for the seniors, we could use for our youth.”

She said the councilmembers in support of her resigning “need to stop and take a look at what you’ve done for our youth.”

“What have you done to prevent violence at all?” she asked. “Every time we have tried to do something for people to lock up their guns, we vote it down. Every time we try to get funding for programs, you overanalyze and try to shoot down ideas and don’t pay attention to the youth that come speak here.

“I think it’s incredibly hypocritical to ask me to do this when you don’t represent the community that I represent, you don’t represent the thousands of people who voted to have me elected.”

Tovar said he took offense to Armendariz’s comments as well as others who have “attacked” his record. Recently, the Santa Clara County Democratic Party, on a resolution written by Hilton and others, pulled its endorsement of Tovar, stating his record was in conflict with the party’s platform.

“To say that we don’t represent the Latino community is a lie and I get offended every time I hear that,” he said. “I’m trying to represent the entire community, but what I don’t like is when folks and my fellow councilmembers attack me, telling me who I’m not.”

Marques said she was uncomfortable with bringing up the request before the recall signature deadline, saying the topic should have been discussed if the required number of signatures were gathered.

“We wouldn’t have had the divisiveness or the hatred that has been shown in this room tonight,” she said. “You have to remember that even though we say we recommend Councilmember Armendariz resigns, it’s not a mandate. We can’t force her to do anything. I’m tired of the shouting back-and-forth. This has been an awful night.”

Hilton said he has no problem with the recall process itself, but said the financial burden should be on the recall committee.

“That burden shouldn’t be transferred over to this city council or the elected city councilmember the recall is focused on,” he said. “If you didn’t realize your deadlines had financial implications, then that’s on the recall committee.”

Kelly Ramirez, one of the organizers of the recall effort, noted that the results of Hanson Bridgett’s investigation wasn’t publicly released until mid-April, making the timeframe too tight for the recall effort to go through the process and still make the July 6 deadline to qualify for the November ballot.

“We ask the council to respond to the outrage of the community by voting to formally ask Ms. Armendariz for her resignation or do a vote of no confidence,” she said.

Esperanza Cid of Gilroy said she’s known Armendariz for about 20 years, who has been a positive role model for her children, getting them involved in helping the homeless and other initiatives. She also noted that Armendariz has written letters of recommendation for her children so they could receive college scholarships.

“What she’s brought to my family is her community advocacy at levels I may never attain,” Cid said. “I supported you, I walked with you, I made calls for you. All of my family and friends, and hundreds of others, here in Gilroy will continue to stand with you.”

Gabriela Mendoza said the council is “making a huge mistake” in asking Armendariz to resign.

“Armendariz is not only a positive example for all the Latina Chicana single mothers, but she’s also the voice of the population in Gilroy that is underserved,” she said. “She is the voice of the homeless, she is the voice of the LGBTQ community and she is the voice of the Latino population.”

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