July 16, 2018
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Giudice throws hat into RP City Council ring

By: Irene Hilsendager
June 29, 2018

My name is Gerard Giudice and I want to represent you on the Rohnert Park City Council. I have years of experience in the work force managing and owning businesses and being on various boards and many years of volunteering.

Giudice came into politics by way of his father being a hard core right wing politician who believed in John Burch and Barry Goldwater but enjoyed studying political science and theology.

Giudice came to California from the Bronx to Novato when his parents moved here in the 70s. He was impressed politically and stayed active in school being the president of the student body council. He was a member of the American Civil Liberties Union and always followed current events. While being a senior in high school the hot topic was the Iranian hostage crisis and along with nuclear scares during the Reagan era. 

Giudice registered to vote but in the late 70s and early 80s the concept of another war was heavy on the minds of many young men.

According to Bill Giudice, his father, Gerard was supposed to study law. He was not interested in being a lawyer so he instead studied hotel management and decided to be a chef. From 1982 to the present time, Gerard has opened and managed from scratch 12 restaurants.

Giudice said “In 1992 it was an amazing year.” 

He met his wife Suzanne, teamed up with Bill Pettibone, his partner, and met an amazing woman by the name of Catherine Munson, who encouraged him to start different entities and show the world he could make it through any diversities. And so, he did by working at McGuinness, then the Oakmont Golf Club courted him.

An opportunity to purchase a house came about, but with no money in sight, how would he be able to go into such debt? He decided to call Munson and she presented him with a huge check, but how would he ever repay her? Her only request was to join a rotary club and do volunteer work to return the same feelings and thoughts to the community. He joined the Valley of the Moon Club that had been chartered by Norm Lawrence and Larry Bellows. Gerard was told that any individual’s actions can change the world. He found that once you have a taste of service above self, you will test it and that it leads to many endeavors-you actually take a leap of faith and make sure it gets you through life.

When the Giudice family took in girls from Chernobyl who had suffered from radiation, that is when Gerard had an amazing experience or a life lesson. Many prominent people from the local community pitched in and gave the young girl Dasha, a new lease on life with dental care, etc. He iterated a story of when Dasha had her first dinner in the Guiduce household. Steaks had been grilled and when Gerard placed a steak on Dash’s plate, she cut off a small piece of meat and passed the rest of the steak onto the next person, expecting that the one steak had to feed the rest of the people sitting at the dinner table. 

Around this period of time Gerard said the business was slowing down and was very afraid he would lose Sally Tomatoes. Another prominent person in town, Elena Wharton, called and said her chef had walked out and she needed to feed 75 people a day. Gerard took another leap of faith and took to the task of feeding that amount of people a day for eight months. This gave him enough cash flow to get over the hump.

Asking him as to what he would do if he gets elected, his answer was very quick, “I want to create more affordable housing solutions and provide safe streets and to promote economic growth” He says, “I want to lead an open and transparent government for the future and focus and relate to fast moving urban environment so we don’t incur urban problems.”

Another bee in his bonnet is the homeless population in Rohnert Park. It is a serious and ever-increasing issue that is affecting the creek system, impacting the senior center and also in the west side of town where sex trafficking has been a problem.

Also, the housing situation is very dire in need of a solution. Some houses have six to eight people living there, house parties are very prevalent and extremely noisy and will usually involve the police. SSU students don’t like these situations and if asked, they really don’t want to live like this. Some students will go so far as to say the residents of Rohnert Park don’t even want us in their city. Off campus housing for students and faculty needs to be addressed since RP is an academic center.

RP has to have growth and we need to promote and provide decent jobs with a future so our kids don’t have to move away. The city is also a unique model with the police and fire departments combined. What can we do that officers don’t have to work overtime? Is the moral compass of our officers being affected? What can we do so that the younger generation stays in RP? These are all questions and can of worms issues that Giudice would like to address if elected.

Another area in RP that needs attention is the A, B and C sections. Travelers from out of town will comment how this section south of the RP Expressway is bland, not up to date and many times seems to be the blight of RP. Gerard and family live in the C section and vows to make A, B and C a better part of town. He will be an advocate for these sections. Another troubling spot is the senior center. This should be updated or even razed and built upwards with a community or senior facility on the ground floor, apartments five to six floors up and a garage on the top so cars are safe from vandalism. 

Another topic he is considering is city hall. Will the city hall be moved in seven years and will it fit the needs of the community when State Farm gets built and modernized? 

Gerard says he also welcomes roundabouts if placed in the proper areas. Roundabouts are pleasing and it increases the flow of traffic nicely.

Gerard’s wife Suzanne is a very private person and hopes to keep it that way. Now that their two beautiful daughters have received their education and moved on their way, the Giudice’s decided this would be a good time to enter city politics especially after serving nine years on the planning committee and being on the board of SCAYD for a few years. Gerard has a huge personality and his generosity is overwhelming but as he said, “I am as grateful as all get out and I will pay it back in spades. I will work tiredly for transparency and accountability.” 

He has a stellar record for volunteering, an appreciation of the issues in his community and being on non-profit boards. 

His campaign kick-off party is July 1 at Sally Tomatoes from 1 to 4 p.m.

Since Mayor Pam Stafford and Councilman Amy Ahanotu are also running for a seat on the council, The Community Voice reached out to each one for comment.

RP Mayor Pam Stafford said she had thrown her hat in the ring in 2006 as she wanted to represent the citizens of Rohnert Park and didn’t like the direction the city council was going at the time. 

Stafford went on to say, “I am really excited about the State Farm property development. It is a unique opportunity for our city to have a city center. We have to go through the approval process with the Planning Commission and the RP City Council. My hope is that we are able to see progress before the end of the year.”

The Community Voice was unable to get a comment from Ahanotu before going to press.