Retired nurse and former nun Helen Ross decided to run for the
District 1 seat on the Hollister City Council because she believes
there has been too much


in local politics.
Hollister – Retired nurse and former nun Helen Ross decided to run for the District 1 seat on the Hollister City Council because she believes there has been too much “unkindness” in local politics.

Ross, 66, said her presence can help change the frequency of disagreements she believes have gotten “personal and nasty.”

“And unfortunately, that’s what I was seeing,” Ross said. “Maybe I can do something about it.”

A lifetime resident of Hollister and a current airport

commissioner, Ross said city councils of the past have lacked vision.

“They’ve had to make some very tough decisions,” Ross said. “I just have a feeling that there’s more to come. I don’t see any brand new fresh ideas coming out of them or somebody stepping forward to truly be the leader of the group.”

For one, Ross, who’s funding her own campaign, believes Hollister doesn’t prepare new council members well enough.

“All of the sudden you’re supposed to be endowed with all this wonderful new knowledge,” Ross said. “The only direction you get is from older members of the council, and they got no training when they were brand new.”

Residential growth

Growth oversight is one area Ross thinks leadership has been lacking in Hollister. She believes a more measured residential growth would best benefit Hollister.

The council no longer has a choice on how many new homes it can allow in any given year. Residents approved Measure U in 2002, which allows construction of 244 new homes a year.

Ross said she’s not in favor of “leap frog growth.” She said city services haven’t kept up with the rapid growth of the past two decades.

She said the council must pay closer attention to how the city grows.

“Hollister needed to grow, but somebody with better vision wasn’t driving the mule team, so to speak,” Ross said.

New sewer plant

Ross believes sewage and water issues are most important for the council in the next four years.

“That’s what’s holding up lots of progress, I think,” Ross said.

Ross said the council should invest in its construction of a new sewer plant now to avoid another disaster like the 15-million gallon sewer spill in 2002.

The sewer spill led to the state’s decision to halt all new construction in Hollister until a new plant is built – its completion is slated for late 2005.

“When they fix it, they better fix it right,” Ross said. “Spend the money to fix it right. I hope they’ve learned their lesson with that one.”

Economic development

Ross, like her opponent Brad Pike, supports more “economic and industrial” growth, she said.

“I think that we have not laid out the welcome mat for small industries,” she said.

She believes one commodity the city does have is plenty of land. She also wants to help enhance what she called a “dying” downtown. And in her district, she said streets and alleys, in particular, need sprucing.

“I think we have to welcome progress,” Ross said.

When asked if that hasn’t been the case, she said, “See, I don’t know. I’m not 100 percent sure because I just don’t know.”

Ross hasn’t taken a stance on a proposed casino off Highway 25. She’s not sure if it would lead to more crime and “broken families.” She did say the proposal’s location, in a flood plain, could present problems.

“I don’t know what it’s going to take for me to go on one side or another, but I see the good and bad.”

Ross mentioned how the Miwok Indian tribe could move the proposed site to the Santa Clara County side of Highway 25, and then San Benito County wouldn’t reap any benefits.

The Budget

Ross’ advice for managing the city’s troubled budget was, “Don’t spend much.” But she doesn’t “know the particulars that go into” drafting a budget.

“And that’s going to be an area that, personally, is going to be quite difficult for me,” she said. “I’m going to ask for help to try to understand what it’s all about. I find that a difficult question.”

When asked if there were city services she would keep if faced with more budget problems, Ross said she would have to review options from a list of possible areas to cut.

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

Previous articleLuna landing: new coach shoots for the stars
Next articleFirst winter storm drenches Hollister
A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here