It was an emotional final Hollister City Council meeting for Carol Lenoir as she sat for one last time up at the dais representing District 1. But after serving just one term she decided not to run again for office, hanging up the old cleats for a life of retirement.
“It’s official, I’m not politician material,” she said. “I can handle your business but I could not handle the politics.”
A special meeting was held at City Hall on Dec. 14 as city officials said goodbye to Lenoir and welcomed in the two newly elected council members: Rick Perez, who will replace Lenoir, and Tim Burns, who will take over District 4.
City Manager Brett Miller presented Lenoir with a plaque of recognition for her service during the past two years. He noted that he enjoyed working alongside her as both an employee and council member for the city.
“It’s been a real pleasure and it’s sad to see you leave,” he said.
An emotional Honor Spencer, councilwoman for District 3, thanked Lenoir for being a mentor and becoming a close friend.
“You guided me and you still guide me,” she said. “But it’s also with sadness that I have to say goodbye to you. You don’t know how much I want to jump up right now and give you the biggest hug. But this is not goodbye, I know where you live.”
Lenoir chuckled and responded, “everybody does.” She worked and served the community of Hollister for the past 32 years: 24 as an employee for the city, six as a planning commissioner and the previous two years as a city councilwoman for District 1.
Rolan Resendiz, councilman for District 2, said that Lenoir dedicated her life to public service and the city.
“I think that we owe you a debt of gratitude, the constituents do and so does the staff,” he said.
Lenoir thanked all of the city employees such as Miller, management services director Mike Chambless, planning commissioner Kevin Henderson, former city manager Bill Avera and the late Marty Richman, who was the councilman for District 4.
“My lights dimmed a little when [Richman] passed but still I try to remember the laughs we had,” she said. “Good guy until the end, and that’s where we want to be in the end. Rest in peace.”
Lenoir thanked those who appointed her as their representative for District 1, which included former council members Karson Klauer, Mickie Luna and Jim Gillio.
“Thank you for having confidence in me to give me such an important job,” she said. “I tried to live up to my obligation with a fair hand.”
Lenoir expressed gratitude toward Spencer as they teamed up with Richman to get the downtown tree lights set up. She praised the efforts for getting the Epicenter, a $5.5 million project on the 400 Block, up and running along with the new sign ordinance, approved cannabis retail and the residential property tax sharing agreement with San Benito County.
Lenoir mentioned that she can’t take credit for the parklet project but it was something the planning commission, which she was a part of, had discussed four years ago.
Lenoir said she would have spoken up about all the troubles that went on during her term but she decided to leave it alone, focusing on just the good things that happened.
“Let’s just say I didn’t anticipate all of that, live and learn,” she said. “But for your information, I did not like the rift in the organization.”
Lenoir did have some recommendations before leaving her city council seat for the last time, such as renegotiating the Hollister Independence Rally contract and encouraging more women to run for elected office in both San Benito County and the City of Hollister.
“We need more women to run for office,” she said.
Shortly after Lenoir stepped down, Rick Perez and Tim Burns took their oath of office to take over the seats for District 1 and 4, respectively.
“I look forward to working with the mayor, with the city council, with the city administration and most importantly with the community who continue to do good work in the community,” Burns said. “I know these are difficult times and I look forward to being part of the solution.”
Perez said he’s honored and it’s a humbling situation to go through, giving thanks to all of those who brought him onboard to represent their district.
“We’re going to bring peace, we’re going to bring unity and we’re going to get through this pandemic together,” he said.
Mayor Ignacio Velazquez also took an oath of office after he was reelected for a fifth straight term. He spoke to the new council members, telling them “you have chosen a time in our city, our state and our country that is unique. It can be stressful at times as we go through trying to find a way out of this pandemic.”
But the city’s mayor believes they can work together as a community and a unit to get the correct building blocks together.
Spencer said she looks forward to working with both of the newly elected council members.
“I think we can be one great council,” she said. “Welcome aboard, congratulations.”
Resendiz added that he’s eager to see what Burns, a retired police officer and the first code enforcement officer in Hollister, can bring to the council in terms of his extensive background in law enforcement.
Resendiz mentioned that he used to live in the same neighborhood as Perez and remembers him as being one of the most receptive neighbors in the area.
“I think it’s a great honor to get to serve,” he said. “You and your family should be so very proud of the campaigns that you ran and of sitting up there on that dais. I just want to take the time to welcome you both to the City of Hollister and I look forward to sitting up there alongside both of you guys.”
*CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story listed Bill Chambless as the management services director for the City of Hollister, which is incorrect. The correct spelling of his name is Mike Chambless, not Bill.