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Anthony Freitas believes San Benito County needs a supervisor
who studies every proposal thoroughly before making decisions.
Hollister – Anthony Freitas believes San Benito County needs a supervisor who studies every proposal thoroughly before making decisions.

Freitas, 56 until his birthday Monday, is running for the District 2 seat on the Board of Supervisors. He said he can commit himself full-time to the position, he won’t “waffle” on any issues, he believes in frugal spending and he wants to follow the will of the residents.

Freitas, an apple and walnut orchardist, wants to expand on his experience over the past four years as a planning commissioner appointed by outgoing Supervisor Ruth Kesler, who Freitas and opponent Anthony Botelho defeated in March.

On growth issues, Freitas called himself an “agricultural preservationist.” But he also thinks every project should get its fair examination. Freitas said the county allowed too many large developments to sprout in recent times. He would rather see smaller tracts of housing approved in the coming years, which he believes would help support local contractors.

Freitas said he also supports a higher level of professionalism on the board, construction to make roads safer and property rights.

He said he’s better for the board than Botelho because he’s a stronger leader with more common sense. Plus, he pointed out, he’s 14 years older, which he said gives him “more learning experience.”

Growth

Freitas supports the county’s current 1 percent annual cap on growth, he said. He opposed Measure G on the March ballot because it went against the wishes of a majority of the public. Overall, he said growth has been poorly managed by the current board, along with the city of Hollister.

“We are a bedroom community and we are suffering from it,” Freitas said.

Among developers who do fit under the 1 percent growth cap, he wants the board to negotiate for more in return from the builders – such as funding to schools, highways and fire services.

“But if you don’t want to do that, we’ve got highways that lead out of this county,” he said. “Get on them and get out of here.

“And you need to be stern that way.”

Freitas said it’s important to protect the “pristine” nature of San Benito County. He said he doesn’t pander to developers, which some have painted him as doing.

“If people want to paint me as a man for developers and that, they’re wrong,” he said.

Freitas, unlike Botelho, hasn’t taken a stance on a proposed Indian casino off Highway 25. He said he “studies everything out thoroughly” before making decisions.

“I don’t believe in making a rash decision right off the bat because it might come back to bite you,” said Freitas, who’s concerned casino investors might move the project over to the Santa Clara County side if San Benito shoots it down, leaving local governments with the problems but none of the benefits.

The budget

Freitas said the county hasn’t followed a simple equation in recent years when it comes to the budget: Spend less money than you generate in revenues.

He said he doesn’t want to cut back on services anymore than San Benito already has. He said the county needs to “penny pinch” to ride out the state’s economic doldrums.

“We have to keep that money for our services,” he said.

If elected, he said he would have a presence in Sacramento. Since the state has been taking more and more money from local governments, he said the county needs somebody with the ability to lobby in the state capital.

Freitas said his relation to former state Sen. Henry Mello should give him an advantage in Sacramento.

“I know I have that ability to do that.”

He criticized the county’s spending on outside private lawyers. San Benito County has spent nearly $3 million in taxpayers’ money during the past four years on its private attorneys for civil lawsuits.

“Lawyers are running this country. We haven’t gotten back to where we can negotiate with each other and talk with each other. But yet we’ve got to go outside and get more lawyers from the outside?

“Get your own lawyer if you’ve got a problem. I’ll be up front.”

As for other areas the county could cut back, Freitas also mentioned the recent approval to build a bridge over the Tres Pinos Creek leading to the county’s Historical Park.

The federal government will pay for 80 percent of the $1.4 million price tag, with San Benito picking up the rest. He said other projects, including some other bridges, should have taken precedent.

Transportation

Freitas opposes a plan supported by Botelho to nix a planned widening of Highway 156 in favor of the Farm Bureau’s “3-in-1” plan, which would include a new highway from highways 101 to 152.

“That is a dream. That is a political move,” he said.

Freitas said he wants to widen Highway 156 by 10 feet on each side – as opposed to a proposal on the table to make it a four- or six-land road. He also wants to add deceleration lanes, rumble strips, better lighting and better drainage.

“I’ve almost been killed myself personally,” he said. “We don’t need any death on that road. There’s nothing more precious in this county than somebody’s life.”

Freitas has an idea to try to bring an Amtrak station to Hollister, one that could connect with a station in Gilroy that leads to the Bay Area.

It could not only move products, but also would serve locals who commute or want to attend events such as San Francisco Giants games, he said. He also said it would allow easier access to San Benito County, which could benefit the local tourism industry, including local wineries and golf courses.

“I’m an innovator. I think about things to get things done,” he said.

Ethics in government

Freitas said he has a cousin who’s a supervisor in Madera County, and that people from those outside jurisdictions think of San Benito County as a “joke.”

“I want to get more respect back in this county. As a supervisor, I’ll give them that. I’ll give them that trust and respect back. If I get to be supervisor, don’t expect any favors. No favors!”

Freitas said he wants to be a supervisor for a few terms and leave a positive legacy behind.

“I want people to say, when I’m walking through there, ‘There’s Anthony Freitas. He was one of our better supervisors,'” he said. “I will be one of the best supervisors we’ve had in this county.”

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

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