Brad Pike hopes to expand on his crusade to make Highway 25
safer by running for the District 1 seat on the Hollister City
Hollister – Brad Pike hopes to expand on his crusade to make Highway 25 safer by running for the District 1 seat on the Hollister City Council.

Pike, a 45-year-old Saratoga fire captain, became well known in Hollister for starting the “Stay Alive on 25” campaign in 2001 after a series of fatal vehicle accidents on the rural highway.

He founded the campaign and collected more than 23,000 signatures in support of safety improvements to Highway 25. Ultimately, he presented the signatures to then locally elected state leaders, Bruce McPherson and Peter Frusetta, along with a representative from the governor’s office.

He decided to run for the council, he said, because he believes he’s a proven leader, and now he wants a vote on Hollister’s direction.

“I’ll fight for whatever it takes to get the community into a sound state,” Pike said.

Pike didn’t want to “point fingers” by saying whether he thinks the current council made mistakes over the past four years.

“What I’d like to do is support some of the positive things that have been tried,” he said.

He also pointed out that he’ll have plenty of time for council duties because, as a fireman, he works 10 days a month and has the other 20 off.

“That’s more than anyone can offer, outside of retired people,” he said.

Economic development

Aside from highway safety, Pike advocates economic development by using the airport as a resource to attract new businesses.

With the housing boom in recent decades, Pike believes industrial development needs to catch up with the population. He believes that, in turn, would generate more revenue through taxes and impact fees for Hollister’s slimmed-down budget.

Pike said the airport – which is surrounded by several business parks, some which are nearly barren – is the perfect place to start.

“That’s a sleeping giant in my book,” he said. “That could really be a sound, stable point of revenue for our city.”

He has three goals when it comes to economic development: keeping local businesses in town; allowing them to expand; and attracting new businesses, he said. He particularly wants to see more light industry and light manufacturing businesses.

Pike pointed out that while Gilroy may hold a monopoly on the retail industry, Hollister could try to attract shipping and storage outlets to service businesses in the Garlic capital.

Development as a whole, Pike said, doesn’t have to carry negative connotations. Hollister just needs to balance its residential growth with adequate infrastructure, which the city hasn’t done in recent years, he said.

The Budget

Bringing in businesses would help solve Hollister’s budget problems, Pike said, by raising more tax revenues and impact fees.

“Let’s start thinking about how we can bring in consistent, long-term revenue to the city,” Pike said.

Within the city’s budget, which the council was forced to slash in 2004-05, Pike puts priority on police, fire and public works services, he said. He recently earned endorsements from both the Hollister Police Department and the Hollister Fire Department.

Public works, though, shouldn’t be forgotten, he said. The public works department oversees operations of the sewer system, road maintenance and other infrastructure issues.

“People forget that public works is a viable entity for any community,” Pike said.

Sewer improvements

The focus for public works for the next couple of years is construction of a $38 million sewer plant. Its completion also stands to end the building moratorium.

Pike said he doesn’t believe Hollister has to wait until the moratorium ends – scheduled for late 2005 – to attract new businesses. Although the state’s regional water board has previously thwarted similar proposals from Hollister, Pike wants to see if newly recruited businesses could use holding tanks until the moratorium’s completion.

“I would like to take whatever shortfalls we have and remedy those to make sure we meet that deadline,” he said.

Pike hopes to gain back public trust in Hollister’s maintenance of sewage issues by “enhancing the communication gap between the community and the city council.” He wants constituents to have constant access to him and other council members.

With that in mind, his campaign materials advertise his cell phone number, e-mail address and Web site.

The proposed casino

Pike hasn’t taken a stance for or against a proposed Indian casino on Highway 25. He said he’s “riding on the fence” because he hasn’t gotten enough answers yet about the pros and cons of the possible development.

He wants local leaders to learn about potential impacts from other cities and counties that have experienced casinos. He expressed some skepticism about whether the project’s backers will provide enough in return – as in money or road improvements – to make it a good deal for Hollister.

“They’re not going to be able to provide that,” Pike said. “But maybe they will, I don’t know.”

He did mention he’s concerned the Miwok Indian tribe and its investors could move to the Santa Clara County side, and then San Benito County would miss out on potential benefits.

Kollin Kosmicki covers politics for the Free Lance. Reach him at 637-5566, ext. 331 or [email protected].

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