Merced County Times Newspaper
The Power of Positive Press

A personal story about Gray’s priorities in office

Steve Gomes with Congressional candidate Adam Gray.
Steve Gomes with Congressional candidate Adam Gray.

By STEVE GOMES

I have supported Adam Gray since his first election to the State Assembly because I have always believed he is a man of integrity who does the right thing even when it is difficult.

Adam has proved that repeatedly, putting the interests of his constituents over “party” demands in Sacramento. Allow me to give you an example you won’t see in political ads.

In the summer of 2014, I was serving as the Merced County Superintendent of Schools and it came to my attention that our efforts to build a classroom for students with severe disabilities was no longer on the state’s funding list.

We had been on that funding list for at least a decade, but now that the state finally had money to fulfill some of those requests our county’s name had disappeared. Removal from the list meant we would be forced to re-apply, and that would mean we would have to start at the bottom of the list where it would take about 30 years to rise to the top.

The reason? In 2011, we had not submitted a 1-page form to keep our request current.

I contacted both of our state representatives – Assemblymember Gray and Senator Anthony Cannella. Staff in their offices both told me that we could appeal to the committee for reinstatement on the list, but the committee seldom granted such appeals.

Nevertheless, staff in both offices worked together and got us on the appeal agenda.

As I was walking through the State Capitol hallway to the meeting where our request would be considered, one of Adam’s staff members called and told me we would have to postpone. Due to some committee-member absences, we didn’t have the votes to win back our spot near the top of the list.

Under the rules, we could postpone one time for three months.

When we finally came before the committee a few weeks later, we were even better prepared for our appeal with 2- x 3-foot posters featuring three of the children impacted by this bureaucratic mistake. I recall Adam and Anthony literally running from their respective chambers, adjusting their ties and coats, to testify before the appeals committee.

After hearing our arguments to restore our position on the list, the committee voted. To our surprise, the vote was 3-3 with one senator absent. The chairman — who had adamantly opposed our appeal — announced he would allow the absent senator 30 minutes to appear and cast a vote. Otherwise, the tie vote would mean the appeal was denied.

Senator Cannella rushed to the Senate Chamber, found the missing senator and asked if she could leave to attend the committee meeting. She said she could not because she was introducing a bill. Anthony told her he would introduce the bill in her stead, so she rushed to the committee room where our funding hung in the balance.

She made it with 5 minutes to spare. The chair asked for her vote, and her “Yes” put our project back on the funding list.

Seven months later, we gathered at Joe Stefani Elementary School to dedicate the new building.

Now, every day about two dozen students come to that facility instead of being driven to Modesto. These children and their parents did not have the political influence to secure that funding, but these two legislators worked across the aisle to do the right thing and help their constituents.

I am a registered Republican, but I vote for the person not the party. And I will vote for Adam Gray to represent us in Congress. He gets results.

 

Steve Gomes, Ed.D., was an educator for 44 years, including six years as Superintendent of Merced County Schools. He retired in 2016.

You might also like
Comments