Guest view: We must do more locally to address Covid-19

By Kollin Kosmicki

Becoming District 2 county supervisor was never about me. It’s about us. It’s about representing the best interests of everyday people and finding ways for San Benito County to reach its immense potential. It’s about working with the residents – who often feel left out of local decisions – to fulfill our vision. It’s about bringing common sense, boldness and creativity to local leadership.

It’s about setting and achieving high standards. 

Above all, the primary duty of elected officials is to understand the constituents and act on their behalf. That is, by definition, the point of representation. Working together, I truly believe we have a foundation for something truly special in San Benito County. But we must first establish and reach concrete goals. 

When it comes to goals, I have developed clear priorities and will steadfastly pursue them. 

While we remain in the midst of this historically devastating pandemic, boldly responding to Covid-19 and keeping our community as safe as possible – while vaccines are rolled out – is by far the most pressing issue for the county to address in 2021. 

We are not beyond this crisis – in fact, we have taken significant steps backward in recent months with a spike in infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths – and I will strongly push for more aggressive policies to stem the spread of this terrible disease. We cannot sit aside as leaders and allow this current sense of chaos at the expense of broader public health. 

I understand frustrations from many in our community about restrictions, particularly from businesses and others financially impacted. I also, however, have deep compassion and sympathy for the sick and dying, and we can all agree on this: The sooner we get our numbers down, the sooner our businesses can fully reopen and the sooner we can all return to normalcy. 

Along with immediately responding to the pandemic with accountability for violating shelter-in-place policies, a countywide mask ordinance, expanded relief to local businesses and more outreach, I remain laser focused on: 

  • Slowing the rampant and irresponsible pace of single-family housing growth.
  • Creating more affordable housing opportunities. 
  • Aggressively fixing our broken road system.
  • Implementing policies to create good jobs in a community with far too few employment opportunities. 

In the coming weeks, I will propose a 1 percent annual growth cap on single-family, market-rate housing with exemptions for affordable categories. I will propose we spend down a portion of our county’s robust general fund reserve to immediately inject more funding into road repairs and our economy. And to kickstart a more aggressive tourism-promotion effort, I will propose we officially brand San Benito County as “Home of Pinnacles National Park.” 

We can and should pursue bold ideas as local leaders and, of course, I will need support and cooperation from my honorable colleagues while working as a team to achieve our goals. Our board members may have some differing viewpoints, but I have the utmost faith in this group’s willingness to work together, compromise and put the people first. 

I have been crystal clear about my intentions, but I’m not naive enough to think this will be an easy job void of pressure and disappointment. I’m also fortunate enough to have a thick skin and a rock-solid family support system. 

These are trying, crucial times for San Benito County. Together, we can – and must – find a path toward progress. 

Kollin Kosmicki is San Benito County District 2 Supervisor.