Election 2002: City must focus on infrastructure

Arturo Medina’s campaign for a seat on the San Juan Bautista
City Council has not been flashy. Very few signs have been
displayed, very little information distributed. But that doesn’t
mean the residents of San Juan do not know who he is.
Arturo Medina’s campaign for a seat on the San Juan Bautista City Council has not been flashy. Very few signs have been displayed, very little information distributed. But that doesn’t mean the residents of San Juan do not know who he is.

As a former planning commissioner for the city, Medina knows what it takes to sit in public office. But he said he hasn’t pushed his campaign because his role as a husband and father took priority with a recent death in the family.

“I feel good about the campaign,” he joked. “Of course, everybody that I talk to says they’re voting for me.”

After six years on the planning commission with near-perfect attendance, Medina wanted to spend time with his family. He stepped down two years ago and is now making a bid for a seat on the City Council.

“I think it’s an excellent time to make a change,” Medina said. “The timing was right.”

When first appointed to fill John Hopper’s seat on the planning commission, Medina did not have an opinion on the issues before him and abstained from voting in the first three meetings.

“I didn’t want to vote blindly just to go along or against something until I fully understood the issues,” he said. “There were no training classes offered to us when I was appointed until recently. At that time you just jumped in and got your feet wet.”

A “frustrating” issue that needs to be changed at the Council level, Medina said, is the information provided in Council packets. When a project is denied at the planning commission level then goes to appeal at the Council level, he said all the hard work put in at the planning level is overturned in a matter of 20 minutes based on limited information in the Council packets.

“Here,” Medina said, “we spent months on a project and it gets appealed, but when I showed the amount of information and the minutes (from the Planning Commission) to one of the City Councilmen, he said, ‘Well that’s not what my information packet looks like.’ They’re getting a condensed version. They should have the minutes and everything that transpired with that issue.”

Another disturbing issue that takes place at the Council level, Medina said, is information given in the packets are not being read by some of the Councilmembers because they ask a question whose answer is in their packets.

The city’s infrastructure is the biggest challenge confronting the new Council in the immediate future. One major concern is the city’s water storage tank, which needs to be replaced for adequate capacity. The present tank has been known to get low because there was no pressure to fill it.

“My concern is if that tank is down low, what happens when we have 35 homes here, another 30 apartments there, and we have another heat wave?” he said. “I think the most urgent thing is to figure out the water tank to maintain the pressure and be able to have adequate fire protection.”

A San Juan resident for nine years, Medina was born in Gilroy and raised in Santa Clara. Growing up, he was surrounded by plum and pear orchards that were being removed for expressways and other development.

“The whole place just started to be overcome by development,” he said. “When I moved here I thought I didn’t want that to happen here, and when I was approached I said it was something I could do.”

But it wasn’t just development that was an issue. Medina said the issues with the city’s infrastructure began to unfold. The city’s focus should be on infrastructure and not development, he said.

Medina would like to go beyond maintaining the city’s services, to improve the quality of life and get the city working with the Chamber of Commerce because business has been bad for many local merchants.

“I’m running because I want to do what I feel is better for San Juan and I think that is the case with many of the people,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting them out to vote. If the average voter is tired of feeling they have no input with the city, they need to vote for me.”

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