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September 29, 2022

LoBue takes last dig

Outgoing mayor defies his fellow council members
His peers elected Brian Conroy Hollister’s mayor, but not before
all four received one last slight from outgoing Mayor Tony
LoBue.
Outgoing mayor defies his fellow council members

His peers elected Brian Conroy Hollister’s mayor, but not before all four received one last slight from outgoing Mayor Tony LoBue.

With Conroy’s election all but assured to the seat – the mayor pro tem traditionally is voted to the seat that rotates every year – LoBue gave council members yet another reason to feel alienated from him.

“At this time I’d like to nominate Council Member Pauline Valdivia for mayor and Council Member Robbie Scattini for vice-mayor,” LoBue said, holding the gavel as the meeting opened.

The breach of protocol surprised the newly elected Scattini.

“It wasn’t my place to be vice-mayor, the paint’s still wet,” Scattini said.

LoBue’s motion was followed by a few muffled giggles in the audience and then silence. Some in the council chambers shot each other incredulous looks. Council members shifted uneasily in their seats – and later complained privately about LoBue’s behavior.

No one said a word for a few uneasy seconds until Valdivia broke the meeting’s silence by clearing her throat.

“Well, I’m going to assume that that motion does have a lack of a second,” said Valdivia, shooting a sharp look at LoBue.

“Well it’s actually open to nomination,” LoBue said.

“OK, well I’d like to take this time to nominate Councilman Brian Conroy as mayor,” said Valdivia.

Councilman Tony Bruscia quickly seconded the motion and was nominated himself to be mayor pro tem.

The council elected Conroy as mayor and Bruscia as vice-mayor 4-1 in two separate votes. LoBue voted “no” both times.

Instead of saying “nay,” LoBue said “no” in a tone some construed as being snide. LoBue declined to comment the following day.

“I was very surprised that I was nominated for mayor,” Valdivia said after the meeting.

LoBue didn’t stay to hear the new mayor’s speech after receiving a plaque for his service. He told his fellow council members that he had a “previous commitment,” the clerk to the board said, on the night of the regularly scheduled meeting.

In accepting his new honorary post, Conroy vowed to work more closely with the Board of Supervisors on issues of regional interest. The mayor has no special powers, but does set the tone of the board’s working relationships.

“I seek to work together as a council, to work together with other agencies in our region, to bring long-term solutions to our wastewater problems, our water quality problems and our growing gang problem,” Conroy said. “As outgoing County Supervisor Rita Bowling has stated, this is God’s country and we should work to keep it God’s country,” Conroy said.

Those inside the chambers left in a mostly positive mood, despite the seemingly bitter ending to LoBue’s term as mayor. It capped a year during which personalities clashed more than once.

During his year in the center seat, LoBue has been a divisive force on the board and has alienated county supervisors with his snide comments. In alienating LAFCO, he told the board that the city would not help defend Rob Mendiola in the lawsuit filed by Award Homes – but the council had not even voted on the matter.

Then in front of a crowd at the Hollister Street Festival in August, he called council-watcher Paul Grannis, whom he defeated, “a loser.”

Earlier in the fall, LoBue called Conroy “a drunk” in reference to a DUI arrest, after Conroy had called him “Mr. President.” At a meeting earlier this month, LoBue galled his fellow council members by attempting to publicly humiliate Conroy by assigning him to read aloud a proclamation regarding awareness of drunken driving.

But Conroy said – at least publicly – he is prepared to hold no grudges.

“There’s a different feeling up here, and I think it has to do with the sense of urgency with what we have to accomplish,” he said. “That includes former mayor LoBue, he knows where we’ve got to go.”

Publicly, Bruscia responded in much the same way. In fact, in recent months he has seemed eager to distance himself from his colleague and seemed happy LoBue had not voted for him for vice mayor.

“I would just say everybody is entitled to their opinion,” Bruscia said of LoBue’s actions. “Maybe people will realize we’re not the two Tonys after all.”

Staff Report
A staff member edited this provided article.

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