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Hollister’s form of government is antiquated and lacks the
critical accountability inherent with a system that empowers voters
to decide who they want to lead.
Hollister’s form of government is antiquated and lacks the critical accountability inherent with a system that empowers voters to decide who they want to lead.

The city would be better off with an at-large mayor elected by the entire city citizenry – as opposed to the current system that rotates the mayoral position among the five council districts’ members and acts more as a certificate of participation than a barometer of political influence.

Hollister needs a real mayor now more than ever, so it’s good to see council members are moving forward with the first step in the process. Last week, they approved a $28,000 contract with Lapkoff and Gobalet Demographic Research – a good choice as a firm, which previously did some work for Hollister in 2008 and is familiar with the city. Now is the earliest time Hollister officials can embark on a re-districting – a necessary precursor to creating an at-large mayor role – because they had to wait for 2010 census data expected in March and they had to get the new information to move ahead.

As things stand, there is no central voice for Hollister. The mayor position is ceremonial in nature and adds little if any political weight in relation to the other four council members. Adding a genuine mayor to the mix would more precisely define the line of accountability. It would naturally refine the message and tone of the city – among local employees and residents, and also to an outside world that either doesn’t know we exist or believes the only thing between city hall and the ocean is sand.

The more centralized the message, the better. That is why we prefer moving to a four-district system as opposed to six, as the number of council precincts must be even in a system where the mayor becomes a deciding voice. Refining the message on one end, while diluting it further on another, wouldn’t make a lot of sense.

Some residents likely would complain about adding households to each remaining council district – meaning they would lose some representation. But having a vote in the election of a mayor more than makes up the difference. Even if a resident isn’t satisfied with their respective council member’s performance or communication, with an at-large mayor, he or she always has that added option of taking problems all the way to the top.

For too long, Hollister has been missing that one central voice. Electing a mayor would refine roles and responsibilities, and set the stage for consistency and decisiveness in the years ahead.

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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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