Lupe Alvarez, Guadalupe’s mayor for the past eight years, announced Friday he will not be seeking another term in order to care for his wife Olivia, who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
His decision leaves three vacancies on the Guadalupe City Council because current members Ariston Julian and Virginia Poncé have also decided not to seek re-election in November.
Alvarez has served on the City Council for the past 10 years, eight as its leader. He said his wife has just recently been diagnosed and will begin treatment soon.
“My intention was to run. I took out papers, but the reality is I need to be there for her,” Alvarez said, the news still fresh that his wife of 19 years is ill. “I enjoy working for the people of Guadalupe and doing my best for them, but in anybody’s life your family should be first.”
Julian, who has served 12 years, and Poncé, a 10-year council member, have also decided not to seek re-election this year.
Their decisions leave John Sabedra and John Lizalde as the only seated council members.
City Administrator Regan Candelario said nobody has filed candidacy papers for the three expiring terms.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do because we need to have an election in November. It’s important to the city to get at least one more council member,” he said.
With none of the incumbents filing candidacy papers, the filing deadline in Guadalupe is pushed back to Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Julian said he decided this was his last term quite a while ago. He has served two different six-year stints on the council and said it’s time to do something different.
“I’ve got other things I want to see accomplished in the community and they involve work with other organizations,” said Julian, who works for Community Health Centers and is active with the Guadalupe Senior Center, youth sports and other groups. “It’s taken up a lot of time, and I feel more effective working with the community at that level.”
Julian’s family has been the catalyst for the renovation of the Guadalupe Senior Center after mold from a leaky walk-in refrigerator closed the facility. He said he likes the hands-on work with the community and said he would support whoever steps in to fill his old seat on the council.
“I’m not going anywhere. It’s still my community. I think we have good management staff. I hate to see Regan go, but no matter who steps in I think they’ve got good support,” Julian said of Candelario, who is moving on to become city manager of Fortuna in northern California.
Poncé also said it’s time for some new leaders to step forward. She retired three years ago and will have 10 years on the council by the time the election rolls around.
“I retired three years ago thinking I was going to be able to do some retirement stuff,” she said, referring to traveling and some long-neglected home improvements. “There comes a time when you have to let some new people see what they can do. It was a pleasure serving, and I enjoyed working the other four on the council.
“I think we made a lot of improvements. I think we did some good for the community while I was there.”
Alvarez said he would miss the work and would continue to be active in the community in a different way.
“When you’re the mayor of a small community like Guadalupe, like Solvang, like Buellton, you don’t do it because you’re getting rich. You do it because you love your community,” Alvarez said. “It was a privilege working for the people of Guadalupe.”