Airshow fate lands on shoulders of new councilman

Scotty Bob parachutes with members of Skydive Hollister during the Hollister Airshow in 2014.

A 2-2 stalemate vote at city council’s special meeting Monday leaves the future of the Hollister Airshow uncertain and, perhaps, in the hands of the incoming council member.

A resolution to approve June 17 to June 19 of next year as the event dates will have to wait for a final decision until newcomer Roy Sims joins the council.

A majority of the Airport Advisory Commission recommended to continue the event at their October meeting with a $20,000 subsidy from the Airport Enterprise Fund, according to the council meeting’s agenda packet. City staff recommended the council cancel the event at their Nov. 21 meeting.

Councilwoman Mickie Luna asked Airport Director Mike Chambless about the average cost for a performer.

Chambless said that while all performers are negotiated separately, the average is around $6,000. The budget for the airshow is around $50,000, he said.

Luna then asked if the Airshow Committee was still committed to raising funds. Chambless said no.

“No, they never committed to that,” Chambless said. “That was the report I gave you last council meeting, was that they did not feel they could do that.”

The councilwoman responded.

“That was a concern of mine because we’ve gone in the red for several years,” Luna said.

Mayor Ignacio Velazquez said that if the people involved in the event aren’t going to help find sponsors or raise funds, the event isn’t going to go very far.

“We’re going to be in the same situation every year,” Velazquez said.
He continued after City Manager Bill Avera said that the council asked Chambless to come back before the council and put on the event.
“There was a consensus here to move forward,” Velazquez said. “I’m just pointing out, I think what Councilmember Luna was getting at here is to make this successful year after year, it’s going to take those that are involved in the airport to participate and help find sponsors or different things. Otherwise it’s just the city footing the bill.”

Avera asked the council to agree that the city and airport are the same entity.

“Can we please agree that it’s not an us and the airport?” Avera said. “It’s an us. It’s the City of Hollister’s Airshow. It’s not the City of Hollister’s Airport’s Airshow.”

Avera continued on to say that city council should participate in order for the event to be successful.

“I think the city council has to have some ownage to make sure that it is successful,” he said. “You have to participate, you have to see that the folks on the Airport Commission and all the volunteers who are a part of this, they have to understand that you have their support. If you’re not supportive, it’s not going to ever work.”

Councilman Karson Klauer said he noticed some things in the last few minutes.

“I don’t usually make decisions this late in the game,” Klauer said. “But Mike (Chambless), I don’t know if you believe in the airshow anymore in terms of being able to break even or provide the type of show you want to provide. I don’t think the Airshow Committee believes in it because they didn’t say that they would even try to come up with the money to make the difference.”

When it came time to vote, Velazquez and Councilman Ray Friend voted “Yes.” Klauer and Luna voted “No.” Councilman Victor Gomez recused himself from the vote due to a potential future conflict of interest. The stalemate resulted in no action on the item.

City Attorney Brad Sullivan said that the council could require an abstaining person to cast a vote. Velazquez had a different idea.

“I think we have a new council member being seated next weekend,” he said. “I think we should give that person an opportunity to state his voice.”

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