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Gonzales for another District 5 term

April 11, 2019 GMT

Shirley Gonzales has been a stalwart advocate for District 5, which is substantively low-income and in constant need of infrastructure improvements. On the first and second issues, she was instrumental in pushing for an “equity lens” in city budgeting and can boast more dollars brought to the district for infrastructure improvements, though even she will concede more is needed.

A fact: More is always needed in all districts, so much so that the many needs overwhelm any single city budget. And that means improvements will require decades of focus via multiple city budgets and bond initiatives. But the gains she has made, along with her work on Guadalupe Plaza improvements, merit her reelection to a final term — she will be termed out if she wins this election.

But we find something else particularly commendable. She departs significantly from other council members and candidates from the usual boilerplate talking points on transportation. This likely stems from her leadership on the city’s Vision Zero initiative — an international pedestrian safety movement that she brought to the city and was adopted by the council in 2015.

One premise of this campaign — which seeks to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injury — is that how we plan our roads is important. They are not just for cars. They are for mobility generally — whether that be via walking, biking, scooting, riding on buses or driving in cars and trucks. She speaks eloquently of micro-mobility — noncar alternatives being just as important as widening roads and filling potholes.

“Poor people need mobility options,” she recently told the board.

We recommend her for a final term because of her work on the usual bread-and-butter issues, but also because her strong voice for micro-mobility is precisely what this city needs.

Equity budgeting has prompted the crafting of metrics to determine the greatest needs in the district. We have the same take on it as does Gonzales. It is a good start for getting traditionally underserved community long-needed focus. But the metrics likely need some fine-tuning.

Gonzales, a business owner, has three challengers for the seat. Anthony Gres owns a produce company. Nazirite Ruben Perez is a city government retiree who is a frequent speaker at council meetings. And Jilma “Jill” Davila is a self-described community activist.

All, in our view, are well intentioned. And their call for more transparency and responsiveness from the city deserves some attention, but we don’t view Gonzales as having failed on this score.