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Three seats are up for grabs on the Watsonville City Council: one each for District 6, District 2 and District 1. The top vote getter for each district wins a seat.
The following unofficial results are from the Santa Cruz County Clerk’s Office. New vote tallies are expected this week. The election must be certified by Dec. 1.
Last county update: 12/1/2020 7:38:00 PM
City of Watsonville Councilmember – Dist 1 (Vote for 1)
|EDUARDO MONTESINO||1400 (96.49%)|
City of Watsonville Councilmember – Dist 2 (Vote for 1)
|AURELIO GONZALEZ||874 (53.55%)|
|VANESSA QUIROZ-CARTER||752 (46.08%)|
City of Watsonville Councilmember – Dist 6 (Vote for 1)
|JIMMY DUTRA||1602 (63.3%)|
|TONY GOMEZ||914 (36.11%)|
Santa Cruz Local interviewed dozens of Watsonville residents in recent months to understand what they want city council residents to address. Priorities we heard were affordable housing development, city-sponsored youth programs and dealing with the high cost of rent.
- Aurelio Gonzalez said he would like to rezone areas to allow more housing, perhaps in some industrial areas.
- On city youth programs, Gonzalez said he’d commit funding to the parks and community services department. But he said balance is needed. He did not list any new funding sources beyond Measure Y. That was the half percent sales tax increase that he supported and voters approved.
- On rent assistance, he said he wanted to find a more permanent way to use federal Community Development Block Grant funding for rental assistance. He’s also open to another sales tax ballot measure to help pay for social services such as rent subsidies that the city now cannot afford.
- Quiroz-Carter said she would like to rezone areas to allow more housing such as some commercial areas.
- Vanessa Quiroz-Carter said she supports repealing Measure Y. Eight percent of Measure Y funding goes to parks and community services. The rest goes to the police and fire departments. Quiroz-Carter wants more money for youth programs. Quiroz-Carter said she’d generally support moving funds from the police department to youth programs.
- On help for renters, Quiroz-Carter said, “Rent control in theory is really great. And I think that we would need to hammer out the details of what that would look like, and work in conjunction with (a potential) rent board.”
- Dutra said he supports restoring parks and community services funding to the pre-COVID levels. To expand those services any more, he said the city would have to lean on nonprofits.
- Dutra said he supports denser housing near the highway or the railroad tracks. He did not list anywhere in District 6 that he’d support denser housing.
- State and federal funding should be sought to help renters and landlords, Dutra said.
- Gomez said he wants to restore youth programs to pre-COVID levels and form a task force to understand what is needed and what the city can afford with its budget.
- On housing, Gomez said he would like to see more new homes for sale and fewer rental developments because 58 percent of homes in the city are rentals. He said he wanted to work with the rest of the council on housing plans and did not propose specifics.
- To improve downtown business and jobs, Gomez said he supported having more music events in the city plaza and he supported Pajaro Valley Arts gallery moving into the Porter building on Main Street.
- On housing, Montesino said he understood the need for more housing but did not propose specific places of programs to achieve it.
- On youth programs, Montesino suggested that Ramsay Park get artificial turf that would help it be more viable for year round use. He also suggested a city-sponsored soccer program.
- On help for renters, he said he wanted to try to attract more rental development.
Read Santa Cruz Local’s reporting on the Watsonville City Council race:
- Santa Cruz Local’s Elections Guide: Scroll down to the Watsonville City Council guide for campaign finance totals, written questionnaire answers, key policy differences and more.
- Vote Nov. 3 podcast episode and transcript on the Watsonville City Council race with candidate interviews
- Read about Santa Cruz Local’s People’s Agenda approach to elections reporting
Stephen Baxter is a co-founder and editor of Santa Cruz Local. He covers Santa Cruz County government.