So far it’s unanimous: Eight candidates for the Hollister City
Council are devoted to shaping up the local economy and digging
local government out of a financial rut.
So far it’s unanimous: Eight candidates for the Hollister City Council are devoted to shaping up the local economy and digging local government out of a financial rut.

Friday marked the end of the nomination period for two of three open council seats. Candidates for the District 1 seat have until Wednesday to return necessary filing documents – because incumbent Brian Conroy won’t pursue a second term, which allows for an extra five days to declare eligibility.

Overall, eight people will run for a trio of council seats. That includes three candidates running against Mayor Tony Bruscia for District 5 and one challenging incumbent Councilman Tony LoBue in District 4. Meanwhile, two candidates vying for Conroy’s seat have returned the necessary papers that include 20 signatures from registered voters in the district.

A slew of challengers means this November’s council election could overhaul the look of Hollister’s policy-setting board, faced with the task of curtailing millions of dollars in projected deficits in coming years.

Along with economic stability, candidates already have begun targeting other burning issues – such as managing growth and tempering the local political climate.

Two people who won’t be stepping into the ring over the next three months are council members Robert Scattini and Pauline Valdivia in District 2 and District 3. Their seats are safe for another two years as both won races in the November 2002 election.

Here’s a look at who’s running so far in the remaining districts:

District 1

Councilman Brian Conroy’s decision against running for a second term left two challengers – Saratoga fireman Brad Pike and Hollister airport commissioner Helen Ross – challenging each other.

Pike, 45, is most known locally as the founder of the “Stay Alive on 25” campaign, which he and others spurred after a string of deadly accidents on Highway 25 starting in 2000.

A Hollister resident for 11 years, Pike doesn’t just want to emphasize highway safety in his campaign, though. He believes overall economic stability is most important.

“The people need to have confidence in their city,” Pike said. “I want people to know their voice is the most important.”

Ross, a 66-year-old former nun and retired nurse, pointed out budget management and growth as her two biggest concerns.

She was born and raised in Hollister before entering the convent and later working at a Southern California community college. She returned to Hollister seven years ago.

“I don’t have any magic bullet for the situation we find ourselves in financially,” Ross said. “I’m willing to work hard and I have time to do it.”

District 4

Councilman Tony LoBue nearly flew through the radar without opposition for a second term. That was before retiring school administrator Doug Emerson made himself eligible one week before the deadline.

Lifetime Hollister resident LoBue, 30, said he doesn’t mind a challenge. Hollister had problems earlier in his term, he said, but now the city’s on the right track.

“I was hoping people would run. It’s good to see people get involved for the right reason,” said LoBue, a walnut farmer and businessman.

Emerson has spent a career in education as a teacher and then an administrator. At month’s end he’ll complete his role as the chief financial officer of San Jose’s Eastside Union School District.

He says his experience overseeing the district’s $200 million budget – along with his work as a labor negotiator – gives him the needed knowledge to help fix Hollister’s money problems.

“I’ve got some time, and I firmly believe in community service,” said Emerson, who has lived in Hollister for three years.

District 5

Mayor Tony Bruscia hopes his one term of experience and commitment to statewide issues earns him another four years on the council. He’ll have three opponents, one more than during his run for the seat in 2000.

Bruscia, a 36-year-old insurance broker, also said he’s glad to have opposition.

“It’s important for the community to have choices and to be able to choose the best person for the job,” he said.

One of Bruscia’s challengers – nurse Monica Johnson – couldn’t be reached.

The last of his three opponents to declare eligibility was Mark Paxton, a longtime resident who works for an educational research firm in Morgan Hill. Paxton also has been a journalist for two decades, including 12 years as editor of the Free Lance.

Paxton made a late decision and returned nomination documents Friday. He believes “restoring fiscal orderliness” is Hollister’s top priority. Plus, “ample evidence” shows the political climate has deteriorated in recent years, which he wants to help mend.

He also said current council members have been “unfairly targeted” for some problems they didn’t cause.

“I’m pretty good at getting along with people,” Paxton said. “And we have more needs than we have resources right now.”

Martin Deffee, a deputy in the county Marshal’s Office, decided to run for the seat after former councilman Richard Boomer decided against another run.

From walking neighborhoods Deffee, 41, has learned residents in the district are most concerned about traffic gridlock and speeding, he said.

But the city’s money problem also sits atop his list of priorities, he said. He believes Hollister should have a separate auditor’s office or department of revenue – like in San Benito County government – to offer tighter oversight of the city’s finances.

“It, just by virtue of its existence, provides for better financial oversight,” said Deffee, who has lived here for 14 years.

Who’s running

District 1

Brad Pike

Age: 45

Occupation: Saratoga firefighter

Hollister resident:

11 years

Helen Ross

Age: 66

Occupation: retired


Hollister resident: born and raised; left for job; been back for

seven years

District 4

Tony LoBue, incumbent

Age: 30

Occupation: walnut

farmer, businessman

Hollister resident:

lifetime resident

Doug Emerson

Age: 60

Occupation: school administrator

District 5

Tony Bruscia

Age: 36

Occupation: insurance broker

Hollister resident:

7 years

Martin Deffee

Age: 40


Marshal’s Office deputy

Hollister resident: 14 years

Mark Paxton

Age: 47

Occupation: educational research

Hollister resident: Lived here since age 4

Monica Johnson

Age: unknown

Occupation: nurse

Hollister residence: unknown

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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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