Thursday, September 18, 2008
A few months ago Bruce Delgado cut up and trashed his campaign signs from 2004– when he narrowly lost the Marina mayoral race to Ila Mettee-McCutchon. Since then, the environmentalist has been absent from city politics.
“I had no intention of getting back into politics this time around,” he says.
But then, Delgado started receiving e-mails urging him to challenge Mettee-McCutchon’s protégé, appointed Mayor Gary Wilmot. More notes arrived in his inbox after the City Council’s controversial Aug. 5 vote to inject nearly $106 million in redevelopment funds into The Dunes at Monterey Bay. Residents and City Hall detractors requested a town hall meeting to unpack the complex development deal. They were “shut down, scoffed at and not appreciated,” Delgado says, adding that it reminded him of when he was the minority vote on the City Council from 2000 to 2004.
“Since 1998 the city has been [led] by people who are somewhat disrespectful,” he says. “They are unnecessarily arrogant.”
A day before the Aug. 8 filing deadline, Delgado decided to run for mayor, vowing to deliver friendlier and more responsive government. He also says the council isn’t adequately addressing Marina’s financial challenges. General fund expenses are projected to exceed revenues this fiscal year by $5.3 million; the city will cover the gap with reserves. “If we did this two more years, we would be bankrupt,” Delgado says. “And nobody knows because the City Council doesn’t want to tell people.”
Wilmot says Delgado misinterpreted the budget. “We have more than our required set-aside reserve,” he says. “The purpose of that money is not to put it in a bank account and let it sit there.”
General Fund revenue is expected to increase by more than $2.2 million this fiscal year compared to last year. Wilmot says the plan is to develop more revenue-generating projects like The Dunes and a proposed medical campus. “The plan is to simply move forward in the direction we have been moving,” he says.
While Delgado critiques the mayor’s overbearing manner, Wilmot says the majority of council votes under his leadership have been unanimous– versus Delgado’s record as the lone dissenting vote. “[Delgado] has shown in the past that as a councilmember he is very inflexible,” he says.
Looking toward the November vote, Delgado faces an uphill battle. He probably wishes he had saved his campaign signs.