The new year is here and with it comes a fresh set of responsibilities and challenges in San Benito County. Roads still need to be repaired, cannabis policies remain under discussion and much debate remains on economic development policies.
Here is what local elected officials said about their goals for 2018.
HOLLISTER CITY COUNCIL
Mayor Ignacio Velazquez
I really want to get an answer to our road issues. We need to put a focus on that as a community and understand the need for a better road network system and repair our roads. Also, I want to make sure we’re planning correctly for our growth. A majority of the public needs to be on the same page with what we’re trying to accomplish—otherwise we won’t succeed as a community. I think it’ll take many more conversations.
And of course continue to improve our budget.
Vice Mayor Karson Klauer
I’d like to do a salary study for all the different positions. It’s something we can probably do in-house. I think it would be good to have a firm grip overall of where we’re at and be able to refer back to that.
I think having a public safety strategic plan for fire and police would be important. It’s on their radar. My hope next year is that we can get that in place.
I’m optimistic that next year will be the big year for the west gateway. I think we’ll finally get around to getting a roundabout in. We got help from an apartment project going in. By this time next year that road could look a lot better.
I think we started the process last year, but we need to take it a step further with council goals. Instead of just having them, have those goals be portrayed in the budget for next fiscal year so if we have areas we want to increase service levels we need to make sure we’re providing resources to those areas.
A big thing for next year is going to be the fire contract. When I look at the big topics I think the general plan update is one of the biggest. Those are probably the two main things that will see a lot of focus.
Councilman Ray Friend
Continue work on the adult use of marijuana and its effects on the city and the people who live here. Also, keep our police and fire departments at the right levels to keep the city safe.
Councilwoman Mickie Luna
To improve communication with city residents and encourage participation at council meetings. I will continue to hold my District 2 meetings with residents of my district and anyone else that would like to attend. I am working on a tour of city housing projects for residents who can better understand where housing projects that were approved years ago are now being developed, where the impact fees of these projects will enhance the city’s budget and how we can better serve our residents.
With all the new residents, I would like to have more recreational opportunities for everyone such as walking trails, music in the park on weekends and hopefully during the next holiday season the possibility of bringing in a skating rink for residents and families to enjoy locally.
Councilman Jim Gillio
Economic development, specifically working with San Benito County, Hollister Downtown Association, the county Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council. Hopefully, I’d like us to add a staff person to work on economic development at the city who could help existing businesses and recruit new ones. I’m going to put myself out there to help as much as possible.
Public safety, specifically working to add at least one full time traffic officer and making sure fire is adequately staffed. Also making sure we work with county EMS to make sure we have proper ambulances staffed in the area for residents.
My last one is to continue working on our roadways. I was glad we could dedicate $3.5 million to our roadways this year.
SAN JUAN BAUTISTA CITY COUNCIL
Vice Mayor John Freeman
My goals for the city are as follows:
To ensure that the two new water wells come on-line so that San Juan Bautista has a reliable and safe supply of drinking water, with total redundancy out of each well.
Plan and implement our pellet plant to maintain a good quality water supply.
Continue to work with county and Hollister to address both transit and sewage issues in our futures.
Create a “green-belt” agricultural area around San Juan Bautista to maintain our small town personality and control our suburban growth.
Attract and consider “in-fill” projects that will enhance our city’s attractiveness for tourists.
Encourage present land owners to cooperate with our city’s goals and needs to both attract and maintain our identity in a positive way toward viable tourist-oriented commerce activity, making San Juan Bautista a “destination” city.
The above represent my opinions and goals only. I consider it my job to help bring the council around to supporting these goals.
Councilman Chris Martorana
Finding three great candidates for city council. At the end of the year, three of us are leaving the city council (Martorana, Mayor Jim West and Councilman Tony Boch have all previously said they would not run for reelection). That’s a pretty potentially significant leadership change and finding good, solid people that have the wherewithal and the time to participate in the community.
Also, securing clean water; we need to be looking farther into the future for some of our strategic planning, our infrastructure planning. I think that’s a big problem for us.
I think lastly we need to truly prioritize looking for help outside the city. I would say more specifically things like grants, leadership consulting, things like that. There’s a ton of money out there, I’m told, but we’ve been ineffective at accessing grant money. I think we’re missing a lot of opportunities there.
Councilman Dan De Vries
The creation and/or encouragement of revenue opportunities in the town in order to ensure economic vitality, while at the same time keeping San Juan historic, charming and small.
SAN BENITO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Board Chairman Jaime De La Cruz
Find a way to fix Highway 25 and repair and maintain local roads.
Reinvest back in our community by having better roads, more ballparks and public facilities like an aquatic center.
Create a “Field of Dreams” Sports complex.
Improve and create more open space opportunities for youth sports.
Improve better working relationship with both the City of Hollister and San Juan Bautista.
Work on creating a TEL/library center.
Reach a resolution on medical and/or recreational marijuana.
Continue support of our local economic development community.
Supervisor Anthony Botelho
The San Benito Board of Supervisors needs to continue to look for efficiencies in county operations. I hope to facilitate with staff, streamlining meetings and committees to best utilize the resources available. Also, many of our positions need a reclassification and a review of fair compensation for the tasks being performed. RMA will need to be supported as the organization develops qualified, adequate staffing in a number of its internal departments.
A goal that the county should have for the ballot in November is to re-establish the requirement for a business license in the unincorporated areas of the county. There are many important reasons to re-establish the business license such as for public safety, compliance of regulations and reasonable conditions of operations that protect not only adjacent property, but the industry itself. It is particularly important as with the potential legalization of the production of cannabis.
Another goal tied to the business license is a cannabis production ordinance and its taxation. There has been mild criticism of the board for not already being able to accomplish this, but the complexity of land use in the county is far different than the city, and proper staffing and process needs to be addressed in order to have a well-serving ordinance.
The county needs to complete its negotiation with Waste Connections on the expansion and operation of the John Smith Landfill. And attention to our roads in way of strategizing the use of Senate Bill 1 funds and existing road maintenance monies to get the most out of the available dollars we have. I do intend to continue to work with my colleagues on the Council of San Benito County Governments (COG) to reach for solutions for traffic congestion and road safety that affects all of San Benito County, but with specific emphasis with Highway 25. There are a number of roads and bridges that will be addressed this coming year. These are just a few goals, but I hope there will be many more accomplishments.
Supervisor Mark Medina
My goals/goal for 2018 is to actively listen to and engage the residents of San Benito County and educate all on why and how I arrive at my decisions. Over the past year, I have been told by many people that government is not a business, but I strongly disagree, and I will continue to make decisions based on my education in business and experience in public service. If we are all to make our decisions based on business and service-quality decisions and not worry whether or not we will be re-elected, our community, employees, families and businesses will be much better served.
We need to grow local businesses and bring additional businesses into San Benito County by working collaboratively, hand-in-hand with the EDC and partners.
We need to build a better relationship with the City of Hollister as we elected officials and staff represent and serve both city and county residents.
We need to engage our community and work to develop and pass a self-help roads tax to fix our potholes.
We need to hold ourselves accountable for decisions made by staff, appointed commissioners and elected board members by developing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound) goals and objectives and support each other to reach them.
In closing, I offer sincere thanks for the honor and pleasure of serving the residents of District 1 and wishes to all for an actively engaged, prosperous, healthy and thriving San Benito County in 2018.
Supervisor Robert Rivas
Some early goals for 2018 include: working with local and regional officials to address our roads and transportation issues, improving the county affordable housing ordinance, focusing on employment/workforce housing, assessing county infrastructure at risk due to unpredictable weather or natural disaster, continuing to make progress for a new county library/learning center.
Supervisor Jerry Muenzer
Opening the new fire station in North County