A print version of this article did not include responses from Josie Sanchez. They have been added below.

Longtime Hollister Republican Rob Bernosky has filed a Notice of Intention to begin circulating a petition to recall San Benito Health Care District Zone 4 Director Josie Sanchez. The notice was confirmed filed by the San Benito County Elections Department on May 20.

If the recall is successful, Bernosky is aiming to put his name on the ballot in a future district board election. Sanchez’s term does not end until 2026.

“Since Josie Sanchez is not up until 2026, the only way I can accelerate that process is by doing a recall and then hoping that the new board in December would appoint or call a special election that I could run in,” Bernosky said in a phone interview May 20.

Bernosky has been a loud voice of opposition to the current Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital (HHMH) administration and the SBHCD. He has been a fixture at district board meetings and town halls as the embattled hospital moved through bankruptcy and is looking for a potential buyer or partner.

“I’ve been involved in local politics for [decades]. This issue of doing the recall, of dismantling the current power structure of the hospital and getting it going on the right path—I’ve never seen anything as popular,” Bernosky said.

The Notice of Intention claims that Sanchez does not engage with constituents via phone or in person, and that she disseminates “false and misleading press releases, including stating what the public wants based on biased polling questions.” 

It also accuses Sanchez of providing “false and misleading information to be filed with the bankruptcy court that attacks members of the public for questioning [the board’s] actions.”

Under the California Elections Code, Sanchez has seven days after the filing of the Notice of Intention to file a response with the county elections official.

In an email to the Free Lance, Sanchez said that she is aware of Bernosky’s efforts and has already submitted an official response to the accusations made in the notice. She said that claims that she is unreachable to constituents are false.

“I have always to the very best of my abilities responded to every inquiry whether phone or otherwise.  When I have not had an answer, I have either researched the answer or forwarded the request on to someone who is more suitable for a response. Claims to the contrary are without merit,” Sanchez wrote.

In regards to the claim that a 2023 poll taken of San Benito County residents was “biased” in the way questions were posed, Sanchez only said that the “[b]oard feels it is important to be transparent with data it considers concerning the future of Hazel Hawkins.”

Sanchez went on to deny the accusation that she provided information to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court that “attacked” constituents in retaliation for their criticism of the district board, saying that the information referenced was not submitted by her or the board.

“The court-appointed  Patient Care Ombudsman (PCO) who works for the Justice Department, submitted a report to the Bankruptcy Court that stated the following: ‘Unfortunately, today the Debtor’s interaction with the community is more difficult because of the power of social media and other tools, which empower a minority to use public meetings and everyday encounters in the community to promote unsupported allegations, make claims that are in ignorance of rules and regulations and offer personal insults,’” Sanchez wrote.

Rob Bernosky believes the time is right to shake up the SBHCD, and has run in high-profile elections in the past. He ran on the Republican Party ticket for California Secretary of State in the 2022 midterm elections, but lost to Democrat Shiley Weber. In 2012, Bernosky also launched an unsuccessful attempt to unseat incumbent Democrat Luis Alejo for the District 30 State Assembly seat.

However, Bernosky feels that the issues surrounding HHMH have rallied local residents around overhauling the administration and keeping local control of the hospital, and has their backing.

“I believe I’ll have plenty of support [from] people helping me to gather the signatures. So, yes, this is not just a solo operation. I feel like the community is behind me,” Bernosky said. 

Under the California Elections Code, Sanchez has seven days after the filing of the Notice of Intention to file a response with the county elections official.

According to San Benito Deputy County Clerk the petition would need to gather 25% of voters registered in Sanchez’s  Health Care Zone 4. As of the latest data, there are 8,759 registered voters in that zone, requiring the petition to gather 2,190 valid signatures, the petition will have 90 days to circulate and gather signatures.

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