Monica Johnson is running for the District 5 seat on the City
Council because she thinks the city lacks long-range planning and
that there needs to be more accountability for Hollister’s
Hollister – Monica Johnson is running for the District 5 seat on the City Council because she thinks the city lacks long-range planning and that there needs to be more accountability for Hollister’s problems.

Johnson, 33, moved to Hollister from San Jose eight years ago. Until now, she hasn’t had the opportunity to get as involved as she’d like. But now a career change has allowed her to devote herself to a possible seat on the council.

She’s paid attention to Hollister government in recent years, she said. And she believes council members don’t take enough responsibility for the city’s problems, such as a drop in the general fund reserve and spending habits that led this past fiscal year to severe cuts in the budget.

As a supervisor of nurses and other health care workers, she has learned how to manage employees, she said.


From top to bottom in the organization, Johnson believes more city workers must be held accountable. She criticized the current council for not taking enough responsibility when problems arise.

Council members blamed the finance department when they realized Hollister had spent down $6 million of its general fund reserve from 1999-2003.

Council members, including her opponent, incumbent Tony Bruscia, said city staff had told them at the time the budget was balanced. She said council members are ultimately responsible for such mistakes.

“I think when you start pointing fingers at other people, that can go on and on,” Johnson said.

She thinks the council should handle deficiencies within its departments by examining how problems happen and giving workers more tools if they’re needed.

“If you let them coast by and do the minimal, that’s all they’re going to do,” she said.

Sewer plant, the budget

Another area the council’s oversight has been criticized is the city’s sewage problems. She said residents have told her people have been wary of Hollister’s sewage system for 20 to 30 years. She said prior councils have lacked adequate planning.

“I really think there’s been a lack of looking at the big picture,” she said.

She hopes to restore trust in the public by trying to end quarrels among local agencies. Hollister has had a rocky relationship with San Benito County and the San Benito County Water District, but those agencies, council members say, have been improving those relations in recent months.

She believes Hollister should invest as much as it can in the sewer plant now.

“In 30 years I don’t want to be hearing about this,” said Johnson, who hopes to retire in Hollister some day. “It’s going to be cheaper to do it now than to go the way we’ve done it.”

The council did revise original plans for its new sewer plant to include a higher capacity for sewage, which also raised the price tag by about $12 million.

If faced with her own difficult choices as a council member, Johnson said she wouldn’t want to cut any more police or fire services. She also said the city could explore consolidating departments.

As to whether she would support layoffs, she said, “I’d be stupid to say there might not be any layoffs.”

Growth and economic development

Johnson, like Bruscia, said growth will happen. But she also believes it must be offset by adequate infrastructure.

“The growth is going to happen,” she said. “People are living longer.”

As far as economic development goes, Johnson hopes to attract more Silicon Valley companies here. Perhaps larger companies such as Cisco could open offices in Hollister so people in her district wouldn’t have to commute so far to work.

“You also have to have higher paying jobs, which is why a lot of people don’t come here,” she said.

She also said people in her district tell her Hollister lacks in entertainment venues and restaurants, which she hopes to promote if she gets elected.

She, like both her opponents, hasn’t taken a stance on a proposed Indian casino off Highway 25.

“You have some people who are really excited about it and some people who are not happy about it,” she said.

She thinks the Miwok Indian tribe could push it through regardless of local support or opposition – as long as they have enough lobbying power at the federal level.

“I think it would behoove us to make sure we have all our ducks in order, so to speak,” she said.

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

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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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