Jose Gutierrez, a Mountain View Whisman School District board member, announced this week his intent to run for the Mountain View City Council this November, citing a need for a "new perspective" and more community buy-in on the council's decisions.
In a statement Tuesday, Gutierrez touted his five-year tenure as a school board trustee, saying it has given him the practical skills needed to make a smooth transition onto the City Council. He emphasized his experience balancing budgets, listening to residents and speaking on behalf of community interests.
"I believe it's time we have a new perspective on how to best help all of Mountain View," Gutierrez said in the announcement. "Now more than ever, community building and buy-in is important."
Gutierrez, a patent litigation paralegal, joined the school board in 2015 at a tumultuous time. He was appointed to replace Chris Chiang, who had just resigned as school board president and announced a campaign to recall fellow board member Steve Nelson. Board meetings were often contentious and would occasionally boil over, making parents and teachers reluctant to have students attend.
In campaigning to retain his appointed seat in 2016, Gutierrez said his goal in the first year was to get rid of the drama, cutting through emotional baggage and history to focus on the district's core educational mission.
Unlike most of the sitting council members, Gutierrez is a renter and lives in close proximity to Castro Elementary School and Rengstorff Park, a neighborhood that has historically been underrepresented on both the councils and school board. At times, Gutierrez would serve as a liaison for Spanish-speaking families in the district, occasionally stepping in to help with translation during board meetings.
Earlier this year, Gutierrez was a vocal proponent of the City Council's attempt to modify Mountain View's rent control law. He was one of only a few renters vocally supporting Measure D on the campaign trail, while local tenant groups staunchly opposed it for having too many concessions to landlords. Measure D was overwhelmingly rejected by voters in the March primary election.
In recent years, Gutierrez and fellow trustees have found themselves deeply involved in city planning and zoning for new housing. Mountain View's community development and housing approval plans are expected to deeply impact the ability of local schools to house future students.
In negotiating for a school site in the North Bayshore area of the city, Gutierrez is among the most vocal trustees in demanding that Google provide sizable, centrally located land for a school site in the area, and that past proposals by the tech giant had been inadequate.
When asked about his top priorities heading into the council race, Gutierrez said he planned to focus on economic development, specifically for the downtown area. Local businesses have taken a hit recently, particularly with the impacts of the new coronavirus and shelter-in-place orders, and the city must play a role in attracting and retaining "mom and pop" restaurants and shops along Castro Street, he said.
Gutierrez said he also wants to explore the possibility of tapping into community benefit money from housing development to create satellite branches of the Mountain View Public Library to improve access across the city.