announced this week that he is a candidate for the District 4 Board
of Supervisors seat, turning that district’s race into a three-way
Hollister – John Hodges, long-time San Benito County Clerk/Auditor/Recorder, announced this week that he is a candidate for the District 4 Board of Supervisors seat, turning that district’s race into a three-way competition.
Hodges – who will face incumbent Supervisor Reb Monaco and former Pinnacle newspaper publisher Tracie Cone – said he made the decision to run on Wednesday and pulled nomination papers. Now he just needs to get 20 signatures and pay the $434 filing fee to get on the ballot for the June 6 primary election.
“I’ve always wanted to run for supervisor and now that I threw my retirement hat in, I thought, ‘Aw shucks, maybe I can do some good from a supervisor stand point,'” Hodges said.
The county’s clerk/auditor/recorder for more than 20 years, Hodges, 66, announced in December that he would not run for another term in that office. At the time he said he wanted to get back to his ranching roots.
But he changed his mind, and said he thinks he will be able to use his more than two decades of experience to get things done on the board.
“It’s something I’m really excited about right now,” he said. “There is a lot of encouragement in District 4.”
Before being elected in 1982, Hodges held positions as the county assessor, a Hollister City Council member, the mayor of Hollister and a private business owner.
As he campaigns, Hodges said he plans to focus on transportation and county finances.
“I was raised here in the county and the county roads are still the same as in 1940,” he said.
Hodges said he sees a potential traffic solution in the 3-in-1, which would be an entirely new east/west highway connecting the Don Pacheco Y with Highway 101 near the county’s northern border. Many, including Supervisor Anthony Botelho, believe that a 3-in-1 would lessen the commuter and truck traffic off of highways 156, 152 and 25.
“I think that’s got a lot of merit,” he said.
County finances also will be an important issue in his campaign, Hodges said. Last year, the Board of Supervisors had to balance the county’s nearly $90 million budget with more than $2 million in reserve funds.
Though he declined to offer any solutions to San Benito’s budget problem at this time, Hodges said that he is open-minded to creative ways to fill the county’s deficit.
“You’re not going to be able to solve it all in one meeting, you have to be creative, you have to work with all the other departments,” he said.
Hodges said he couldn’t criticize Monaco’s work as supervisor. But, he added, he thinks he has the experience to do good things.
“I can’t take anything away from Supervisor Monaco”, he said. “The bottom line: The people make the choice.”
Each of the other two District 2 candidates said that Hodges entering the race will not affect the way they’ll campaign. They said that they will stick to the issues that are important to them and the residents of District 4.
After saying that she welcomed Hodges to the District 4 race, 48-year-old Cone – who has said that government transparency, housing, economic growth and gang prevention are some of her priorities – had only one comment.
“I look forward to campaigning on my record, and most of all I look forward to John Hodges campaigning on his,” she said.
Monaco, 61, said that Hodges’ candidacy will change the composition of the race and might make it a little tougher for voters to sort out the issues and make a decision.
“I think any time you add a third candidate in there it makes it more confusing for voters, more complex,” he said.
Monaco, who also said that transportation and county finances were issues of concern for him, said he will focus on his campaign rather than his competitors’.
“I’m going to focus on issues of my own, on my own record,” he said.
Though Hodges earned enough public support to win six four-year terms as clerk/auditor/recorder, in recent years his office has been the cause of some controversy in the county. In 2004, Hodges’ office was criticized for a variety of reasons, including misprinted absentee ballots and the mailing of multiple absentee ballots to individual voters. Also in 2004, the Department of Justice threatened to sue the county for not providing enough voting resources for Spanish-speaking residents.
But Hodges doesn’t believe the snarls with the 2004 election will penalize his chances for taking home a victory come November. The problems in 2004, he said, proved that his county election office was understaffed, causing the federal government to come in and force supervisors to give him more people.
“It will have no effect whatsoever, because in the long-run that was a situation in which the county and the voters gained,” he said.
Luke Roney covers local government and the environment for the Free Lance. Reach him at 831-637-5566 ext. 335 or at [email protected]