Flores is new mayor of San Juan Bautista

Council makes appointment two weeks after mayor’s death

Newly elected City Councilmember Cesar Flores has been appointed the new mayor of San Juan Bautista.

The three new council members—Flores, Leslie Jordan and Mary Vazquez Edge—all voted for Flores’ appointment on Dec.18. Councilmembers John Freeman and Dan DeVries voted against Flores’ appointment.

A vote for mayor is routinely scheduled for the first December meeting of the year. This year the meeting followed the Dec. 6 announcement of the death of Mayor Jim West.

The San Benito County Sheriff’s office released a statement regarding West’s cause of death on Dec. 19. Capt. Eric Taylor said in the release, “Our investigation has determined Mr. West’s cause of death was suicide.”

“Our deputies were called to Mayor West’s workplace, Graniterock on 2391 San Juan Highway, on the morning of Dec. 6, 2018,” said Taylor. “An employee called our office after hearing a gunshot and finding Mr. West’s body.’

“Out of respect for Mr. West’s loved ones, we will not be releasing further information.”

The city’s Dec. 6 statement had read, “The City of San Juan Bautista was very saddened today to learn of the passing of their mayor and beloved resident, the Honorable Jim West.

Mayor West was a longtime resident of San Benito County and recently made San Juan Bautista his home, where he turned his attention and tireless, never-ending spirit of community involvement to helping the citizens of the Mission City and the local community. …

Jim leaves behind many great friends, colleagues and associates in our community, and his presence will be greatly missed.”

Flores said the Dec. 18 vote would have happened at the same time regardless of West’s passing.

As for how Flores feels about being appointed mayor, he said, “I’m excited, it’s a big job. There’s a lot of things that need to be done, and I’m up for the challenge.”

Flores said the issues he hopes to address during his time in office are water, streets and safety.

He previously served on the city’s planning commission and was sworn in at the Dec. 18 meeting for his first term as a council member before the vote for mayor.

Flores said he hopes to take personal matters and opinions out of city politics in order to take care of pressing issues.

“I’m open to any ideas,” said Flores. “We’re a small enough town that we can have that kind of input.”

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