Community Insight: Healthy, positive change in San Benito County

A small crowd listens to a presentation in the pavilion at Bolado Park.

The new Healthy Checkout Lane at Hollister Super, Gavilan district elections, talk of road repairs and Bolado Park upgrades are all signs of progress in the county.
In light of recent, positive developments in San Benito County, we wanted to offer thumbs up on these issues:
Healthy Checkout Lane
In continuing with her early reputation for launching bold initiatives as public health officer, Dr. Anju Goel and the San Benito County Public Health Department worked with Hollister Super on Third and San Benito streets to create a new “Healthy Checkout Lane” that offers largely nutritious items at the register. It is among a handful of lanes at the small supermarket, so owner Jim Gibson also deserves credit for giving it a shot and taking a chance at short-term profit loss while helping to promote healthy living to his customers.
Goel in her short time as health officer—she started last July—has been a true leader in enacting needed change benefitting the overall health of this community. In January, she worked with Nob Hill in Hollister to get the store to ban tobacco sales. She also pushed for a citywide ban of tobacco sales in the seven local pharmacies and garnered support from council members for such a move.
Gavilan district elections
It is long past due for Gavilan College, and other districts using inherently flawed at-large election systems such as San Benito High School, to move toward district elections. Forced by legal precedent, and the likelihood for a lawsuit without the change, Gavilan trustees in April supported taking steps to hold district elections in November 2016. The Gavilan board’s current makeup, with its starkly lacking diversity, is an example why the California Voting Rights Act has it right in requiring district elections that foster fair representation of all protected minority groups. There will be seven geographic districts instead of the current system with three trustees elected from San Benito County, two from Gilroy and two from Morgan Hill—a structure cooked up a half-century ago as a political ploy to gain local votes in support of the newly devised district at the time, and hardly a beacon of democracy.
County roads tax discussion
It is appropriate for county officials to find revenue streams for vitally, long-needed road repairs in San Benito County, and it is refreshing to see that leaders are focusing on the idea of using a sales tax instead of a property or parcel tax.  Everybody, frankly, uses the roads. So everyone should pay their share for the needed repairs. Too often in this community, government agencies seeking the most foreseeable path to election victory choose property and parcel tax proposals over sales tax initiatives, which is the most equitable way to go about a roads tax.
Bolado Park upgrades
Bolado Park is looking really nice these days as the agricultural district does ongoing renovations at the facility, a cultural core for the community. While the fairgrounds are undergoing renovations at various building sites and will greatly expand available parking, work at the pavilion is a centerpiece to the slate of projects. The local Heritage Foundation and many donors deserve thanks for funding the projects, which should greatly improve the venue for public use.

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