City Council candidate Larry Gamino said he wants to bring a traditional college or trade school to Tracy to give kids a future in the city where they grow up, and he wants to reverse policies that he says have favored building homes over community.
At a campaign kick-off rally Monday evening that drew a few dozen supporters to El Castillo Restaurant at Sixth Street and Central Avenue, the retired railroad worker-turned neighborhood activist also suggested a light-rail line be built to connect Tracy with Stockton, Manteca and Lathrop.
He seeks to become the first councilman from the neighborhood south of the downtown railroad tracks — known as the Southside — since Ray Morales, the owner of El Castillo, who also introduced Gamino, 55.
"Larry is a doer," Morales told the crowd. "He gets things done."
Gamino has become more involved in civic affairs in recent months. He revived the dormant Southside Improvement Association and has lobbied the City Council to repair potholed streets and broken curbs and sidewalks.
Eventually, he leapt into the council race, where he will face incumbent Councilman Steve Abercrombie, Councilwoman Irene Sundberg, home inspector Larry Hite, and retired police Capt. Mike Maciel.
The 1974 U.C. Berkeley graduate complained that the council has for decades "took their eye off the ball. They looked at new development, which is great, but we need to take care of existing communities."
The restaurant is a stone’s throw from a new transit station the city will construct next to the Bow Tie railroad tracks, a spot "where the past meets the present," he said, and "holds some of our answers for the future."
He embraced the idea that Tracy encourages the county to build a new south county courthouse downtown, a suggestion by mayoral candidate Celeste Garamendi, who was in attendance.
And Gamino said the city should work hard to better educate its young people, and perhaps even adults that lose their jobs. Gamino said the city should push to educate students in eco-technology, robotics and solar energy, a move that would keep kids busy and cut crime by "attacking the roots of poverty."
"Now is the time to keep our children in Tracy by providing high-paying good jobs," he said. "This is a race about shared values. We’re on this train together, and it’s only building up speed."