The race is on to replace former Hollister City Council member Honor Spencer, as five candidates have qualified to run for her District 3 seat in the Nov. 2 election.
Lauretta Avina, Scott McPhail, Dolores Morales, Silas Quintero and Matthew Rojas will be on the ballot for Spencer’s former seat.
The winner will complete Spencer’s term—which ends December 2022—before another regular election for the District 3 council seat.
Spencer resigned in April. She was first elected to the Hollister City Council in 2018.
Hollister’s council district 3 includes the central southern portion of the city. Only voters who live in that district will be able to vote for a candidate on Nov. 2.
Hollister City Clerk Christine Black said there will be a qualifying period for write-in candidates for the District 3 seat, starting later this month. Write-in candidates may not submit ballot statements.
Candidates who have qualified so far come from a range of professional backgrounds, and all are newcomers to elective politics.
Avina works at San Benito High School as a Guidance Tech. Over the years in Hollister, she has organized numerous events and initiatives to support U.S. military veterans.
“I decided to run for office because I simply became fed up with what our community looks like today,” Avina wrote in an email. “The result of 30 years of poor and mismanaged urban sprawl with no attention ever being given to our infrastructure, primarily the two main entry points to Hollister, Highway 156 and Highway 25.”
Hollister now has to play catch-up on its infrastructure throughout the city to accommodate the current rate of growth, she added.
Avina said as a council member she would also like to begin efforts to extend Caltrain to Hollister; and work with the county to improve the local justice system’s victims services programs.
McPhail said he is a fourth-generation resident of Hollister. He is the owner and CEO of California Finest, a hemp retail business. On his financial disclosure statement, he listed his company’s name as Marz Trading Co with an address on McCray Street.
He kept his comments brief about why he is running for the Hollister District 3 council seat: “The Hollister city council is a swamp of back door dealing carpetbaggers, so I’m here to kick ass and take names!”
He did not respond to a follow-up email asking for more details.
Morales has worked for Santa Clara County for 26 years. She is currently a program manager for that county’s juvenile probation department, overseeing a $30 million division, she told the Free Lance.
She thinks her career so far has given her just the type of skills and experience one needs to manage a city like Hollister: strategic planning, communication, organizing, seeking new funding sources and “being able to maneuver through the intricacies of government.”
“I’m running because there’s a lot of changes in Hollister, and I believe that my work experience, background and education would help contribute to the accomplishments and the goals of the city,” Morales said.
Quintero, who describes himself as a fifth-generation Hollister resident, is the owner of the local iRepair 831 mobile phone repair store. His statement of financial interests filed earlier this month with the city clerk’s office also lists Quintero as a business manager for Employbridge LLC.
“I’m running for the District 3 council seat, as I want to give back to the community I was raised in and have a positive impact on the decisions being made in my local district, as well as our entire community,” Quintero said in an email to the Free Lance.
Rojas summarized his campaign agenda and goals in office, if elected, as, “smart growth, better and stronger infrastructure, more jobs and affordable housing.”
An employee of Amazon Web Services, Rojas said the city needs a wider variety of housing that is accessible to everyone. “Smart and safe” roads and infrastructure upgrades to accommodate recent and ongoing population growth will be necessary, he said.
As a council member, he would also help attract new businesses of all kinds to Hollister.