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May 28, 2023

District 3 Race election questions

District 3
The city never has been in worse shape. There’s a
state-mandated, indefinite building moratorium that bans even new
job-creating industry, a faulty sewage system and a controversial
plan for replacing it on the table, the council can’t get along,
staff seems to dictate council decisions rather than the other way
around, the city manager is leaving, etc.
District 3

The city never has been in worse shape. There’s a state-mandated, indefinite building moratorium that bans even new job-creating industry, a faulty sewage system and a controversial plan for replacing it on the table, the council can’t get along, staff seems to dictate council decisions rather than the other way around, the city manager is leaving, etc.

For the challenger: Why are you the right person to solve these problems?

Or for incumbent: In light of all of this, why should voters reelect you and how will you address these problems?

Randy Pfeifer: Well, that’s a very big question. I think I’m the right person because I’m open to a solution. I want to solve it right. I don’t want to just put a Band-aid on it. I don’t want hometown Hollister to be like Milpitas was in the 60s. It had an odor. Out in Fremont, we would get it from their sewage in the afternoon.

It’s time to move some people and get it done. (The city staff) need to work for us. I would go to the guy that had the memo about the fine and tell him the next time he got a memo like that and didn’t track me down and tell me about it, I’d be asking for his resignation. I think there’s a big lack of communication and it’s time we work together.

Henry Sumaya: The way to solve this problem is to get these agencies together. Let’s quit this bickering and this bitching among ourselves and get these agencies together. I’m talking about the board of supervisors, especially the San Benito Water District, they’re a big asset to this community and the city. And let’s see what mixed ideas we can put together.

Pauline Valdivia: Well, I’m seeking re-election because I think I can make a difference in terms of my experience. These past four years have been difficult, as you all may well know. Unfortunately, we inherited a lot of things we have no control over, so I feel we’re doing the best we can. We’re going to be meeting our deadlines in terms of what we have to do in terms of the state water board. We need to go back say ‘Listen; because of fire safety reasons we need another fire station. The other part of that, I think, is you mentioned the manager leaving. You see the manager has been talking about leaving for some time.

Why do you want to run and what makes you qualified to serve?

Randy Pfeifer: Basically, there comes a time in your life when you feel it’s time to give back. If I didn’t read about how bad things were every time I pick up paper, maybe I might not be here. When I found out my district councilperson representing my district was running unopposed, I couldn’t believe it. With the state of the city, how could two of the two positions be running unopposed until the last week? I told my wife ‘I’m doing it.’

Henry Sumaya: I’ve been involved in everything from housing to food stamps. You name it I did it. I was in job training. I worked with the county and the city on the General Plan.

Pauline Valdivia: I think my four years on the council gives me the experience. It’s a large learning curve. And I think that the first few years, you listen and ask and you continue to absorb. I think my experience on the council, you know, gives me the expertise to be able make some good decisions to make this a livable community for our residents.

City government is the county’s second-biggest industry. The council is like a Board of Directors, a position that demands leadership skills, communication skills, intelligence and a vision for the future. Tell us how you meet these qualifications, what your vision is and how we get there.

Randy Pfeifer: I do have some common sense. I communicate fairly well. I realize you must compromise, but I’m not going to sell out my basic beliefs. This city is obviously poorly planned. You have to grow and plan, and any growth needs to benefit the community, not just the developer.

Henry Sumaya: I know I could work with all of them (the agencies) in a constructive way in order to pursue now with the job market. As you know, nobody can bring any job development down to San Benito. I have talked to some potential job people who will do the commute and we’ll discuss it when it happens.

Pauline Valdivia: Again, my qualifications are being involved in the community with the work that I’ve done. The city needs a vision in order for it to survive and I think we’ve set some goals to get there. I think we need some short and long term goals to make a good living environment for the community.

Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, as well as San Benito County Water District, are angry that they were not consulted before Hollister’s proposed sewage treatment plan was designed, yet the plant will have wide-ranging environmental impacts. It was created and approved without input from the countywide Groundwater Management Plan. Some agencies think that Hollister is trying to solve its problems with a quick, short-term fix without planning for the future.

For the incumbent: Why do you think the current plan you voted for is adequate.

For the challenger: Please say whether you think the current plan is adequate and how it can be improved.

Randy Pfeifer: I don’t feel the current plan is adequate. I don’t understand how it even got approved and why it wasn’t taken as a group effort. All of these people should have met. We should have called for a special meeting and we should use their expertise and we should have solved this in the long term. You don’t want to be back in 15 years with the same thing. And it may be too late at some point if we don’t take care of it right.

Henry Sumaya: No it’s not adequate, for instance, you have AMBAG (Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments.) They should have been involved, which is Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties. Yet the city’s negligence in taking this upon itself solely, it backfired on them. Now I think getting AMBAG involved would have helped them a hell of a lot.

Pauline Valdivia: Well you know, yes, one of the things is I know a lot of people are very angry with us. All these entities that are upset, we need to jump in and work together. I know the plan we have right now, a lot of people are not in agreement. From my perspective, I think it’s a pretty good plan. I know the wetlands is an issue for a lot of people, but I think that’s something we can probably look at.

Since an indefinite state-ordered moratorium has been enacted on all construction – even jobs – has been enacted, what should be the priorities of the Hollister City Council? How can the city thrive without an expanding tax base?

Randy Pfeifer: I think we should go about our building, get the things we need done. If we do need that new fire station, and I don’t know all the ins and out, but if we need that, I don’t see why we don’t have it built and be ready to hook up the sewer when it’s time.

Henry Sumaya: The first priority should be to re-establish the job market in San Benito county. Let’s get together with the county, let’s get together with the water board. That would be my first priority. If you don’t have a job how you going to buy a home?

Pauline Valdivia: Our first priority is to get the sewer built. We also have a small little fire department that is not adequate for the size of our community.

For incumbent: You are a part of a divisive city council that has put the city in a position in which all construction and economic development is at a state-mandated standstill indefinitely. As the ultimate supervisors of the city workforce, you have neglected to foresee the problems that now exist. Why should citizens in your district vote for you?

Pauline Valdivia: Well, I don’t think it’s at a standstill. I think it will be lifted and we’ll move forward. I see a lot of things happening in our community. Hopefully, the people in my district will give me an opportunity to be part of that. We have the opportunity to slow it down and do some slow growth.

Please give us an example of an instance in which you have used good common sense in your life to solve a problem.

Randy Pfeifer: I worked for the state for close to 10 years. I was a psychiatric technician. And I liked working with disabled adults. But it was, ah, the state employed two thirds of the pysch techs. It used to bother me and that’s why I went back to school. Until I went back to school I was pretty much stuck there with the state.

Henry Sumaya: Ah, I got to think, I got to think on this one. All right, let me throw this at you. The resources that were given to us 30 years ago was here it is, here’s your information you take advantage. Back in the rainy season, I remember years ago, the state of California came ahead and offered each farm worker $1,000 and some odd dollars for the work they had lost as a result of the rain. There were people literally starving out there.

Pauline Valdivia: Just by voting no on the Fairview project, I think that was one. It didn’t take me long to decide what to do. For me, that was common sense, because I remember when that was going to come before us. I mean, gosh, it didn’t take me very long to decide what I was going to do.

If elected, what are your priorities?

Randy Pfeifer: Obviously the main priority is the sewage. I don’t want to abandon (Highway 25) just because they put a little 24 inch strip down the middle I can already see people passing me to the right going 90. As the city gets bigger the youth problem usually grows with it. We all want our kids to grow and take care of business. They need parks that are safe.

Henry Sumaya: My first priority is jobs. Everything else is dead, let’s face it.

Pauline Valdivia: Safety issues is one of one of the biggest that I have of course. The things that we have to deal with in terms of the sewer is one. The fire department and also the transportation, you know, Highway 25, I think that’s very important. Since we’ve already become a bedroom community for Silicon Valley, we must retain what we have.

Employees at the Wal-Mart in Gilroy have been telling customers from

Hollister that a Wal-Mart is coming to Hollister. Many see the arrival of a Wal-Mart in a small town as a deathblow to local businesses and the end of downtown as we know it. If Wal-Mart was to come before the city council to seek approval to build in Hollister would you support it?

Randy Pfeifer: I never heard about it until right now. You know, I think we got K-Mart. I think we’ve got enough marts right now. I think people would rather see more restaurants here than a Wal-Mart. And I care about downtown. I don’t want it to be just a bunch of little liquor stores and run-down shops.

Henry Sumaya: I would support it, yes. You got to get progress, you can’t lock the doors of San Benito County. The only problem is the people who are going to get those jobs aren’t our own people. My grandchildren, your grandchildren they have the opportunity now to gain employment through K-Mart. Now if K-Mart lets us down, what are you going to do?

Pauline Valdivia: I think in lieu of what we’re going through it would be very difficult for us to do that. We need to keep jobs for our local people, because our agricultural base isn’t there anymore. Also we need to look at how it will impact the community. We already have Target, we have Kmart, we have Rite Aid.

The City of Hollister is a decade behind in its efforts to provide adequate parkland and open space for current and future residents. Do you think recreation facilities are part of an adequate infrastructure?

Randy Pfeifer: Oh yeah, I think I already said that already. You got to have it. If you have no place for your kids to play but the streets or to walk over to another neighborhood, there was something wrong with the plan.

Henry Sumaya: I don’t think there’s been enough development to create a bigger park in the park system.

Pauline Valdivia: Yes, I think it needs to be a part of it. The community needs something to go to. Right now we have a desperate need for parks. I do support that they need a place to recreate.

Who backs your campaign?

Randy Pfeifer: Well, my wife.

Henry Sumaya: My family is supporting me. I haven’t picked up any endorsements yet, but I plan to.

Pauline Valdivia: I’ve gotten little trickles of contributions here and there. I don’t have anybody like a company or anybody.

For Henry Sumaya: You have stated in a previous forum that the city lacks infrastructure. Yet you were one of the biggest supporters for the Award Homes 677-home development while those against the project stressed that the city did not have adequate infrastructure to handle it. Please reconcile your views.

Henry Sumaya: Because now we know that staff took the wrong direction. We were all under false impressions by the City of Hollister staff.

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