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Hollister voters OK sales tax for another 5 years

City Hall

Hollister voters have approved the Measure E sales tax extension by a comfortable margin, according to preliminary results.

Most of the ballots have been counted in the race, and the “yes” side held a 57.4 percent to 42.6 percent lead, according to the unofficial results.

The city measure is intended to extend the 1 percent Measure T sales tax in the city for another five years.

Interim Police Chief David Westrick, who supported the measure, said that the proponents of Measure E were optimistic a couple hours after polls closed.

“We are feeling pretty good right now,” he said. “We are just waiting for the next numbers to come in. We are just anxious waiting on those numbers coming in.”

Westrick said supporters campaigned up until the last minute, with rallies at Highway 25 and San Benito Street as well as Fourth and San Benito streets. He said volunteers canvassed neighborhoods and made phone calls.

“We tried to get the vote and get the information out,” he said.

Members of the No on Measure E campaign could not be reached immediately on Election Night.

Hollister city council and staff members last December outlined an austerity plan they said would go into effect if the sales tax measure failed to pass. It included provisions to cut $3 million from the city’s budget, about the amount that has come in each year for the last four years through Measure T. The Measure T tax is set to sunset in March 2013. Measure E would extend the tax for five years.

Measure E picked up the endorsement of city officials and mayoral candidates. 

Ignacio Velazquez, who is leading the mayor’s race, had called for a portion of the Measure E funds to go to economic development and reserves, as did the San Benito County Business Council, which gave an endorsement to the measure. The measure was also endorsed by Congressman Sam Farr, Assemblyman Luis Alejo, the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce, Jovenes de Antano Senior Services, and the Hollister Police Officers Association, among others groups.

Velazquez while heading toward victory Tuesday night said he will follow through on proposing a plan to put 50 percent of the Measure E money into public safety, 30 percent into infrastructure and 20 percent into reserves.

Leading up to the election, proponents and opponents of the measure held a forum. Proponents contended that with fewer resources, it would drive away new businesses. The most vocal opponent argued that a lower sales tax would benefit small businesses, and that the city should get out of the economic development business altogether.

Check back for more results. Visit the San Benito County Election’s office website for updated results.