Meet the candidates: Mayoral candidate Gilberti says new homeless shelter top priority
Albert Gilberti hopes to bring relief to Denison's low-income families and residents if he is elected as the city's mayor this May. Gilberti is one of three candidates that are vying for the mayoral seat this election cycle, where voters will hit the polls on May 1.
Gilberti will face off against Incumbent Janet Gott, who is pursuing a second term as mayor of Denison, and local comedian and musician Matt Blackshear. Denison's spring elections will also see another city council seat up for grabs with two new candidates seeking the soon-to-be-vacant seat.
Gilberti described himself as a protest candidate who is seeking office in order to push reforms aimed at the city's low-income and homeless populations.
Gilberti is from the East Coast, but has lived in Texoma for the past 17 years. During his time in New Jersey, Gilberti said he did hold political office and served as a county committee member in in the late 1980s.
Locally, Gilberti said he has previously volunteered with Meals on Wheels in Denison, but has not held office.
Gilberti said he decided to run in protest about a year ago following increases in cost of living in Denison, and stalled efforts by community leaders to open a homeless shelter in the community. If elected, Gilberti said the construction of a shelter would be a priority.
"The reason why is basically as a protest," he said. "I wanted to see a homeless shelter started in this area because a lot of people are in need because of the economy, because of the way things are, and I am essentially doing this as a protest."
Gilberti said a sustained shelter could be possible if the city partners with the area church community. This partnership could create other services including feeding programs, he said.
Gilberti said he would also like to freeze rents, but noted that this likely goes above the purview and power of a local mayor and would instead fall under state jurisdiction.
"A lot of low income people and poor people cannot afford (it)," he said, describing rental increases.
In addition to offering rental relief, Gilberti said he wanted to stop increases to utility costs, noting that it puts an increased strain on those with limited budgets. He said that a sin tax on items like alcohol and cigarettes could offset lost revenues and make up the difference. However, the sin tax is state maintained and the mayor does not have local control.
"We are going to have more people going into tents because they can't pay their bills," he said.
Another initiative Gilberti said he would like to pursue is encouraging film making in Denison using local resources talent and locations. Through this, he said local tourism could thrive.
"I think a movie done here would be big," he said.