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– Whenever County Finance Director Joe Paul Gonzalez welcomes a
new employee, he gives them a simple message.
Hollister – Whenever County Finance Director Joe Paul Gonzalez welcomes a new employee, he gives them a simple message.

“I came from a small business, where profit is the motivation,” Gonzalez said. “But in government, service is what we strive for. If we’re not here to serve, we’re just taking up space.”

On Monday, Gonzalez will be taking that philosophy to a new office – that of San Benito County’s clerk/auditor/recorder. In that role, Gonzalez will be in charge of all of the county’s documents and financial statements, as well as running San Benito’s elections. He succeeds retiring Clerk John Hodges.

Former Hollister Councilman Leonard Poletti, a longtime friend, said Gonzalez will do a good job for the people of San Benito.

“The county is going to get three times their money’s worth on that guy,” Poletti said.

When Gonzalez ran for and won a seat on the City Council in 1986, it was due in part to Poletti’s urging. Poletti said he was impressed by Gonzalez’s hard work balancing a job and school – Gonzalez has a master’s degree in business administration from San Jose State.

“I don’t think there’s a second-best for Joe,” Poletti said.

Gonzalez, 49, was born and raised in Hollister. After he received his accounting degree, Gonzalez discovered that there weren’t many local opportunities for accountants. But he wanted to stay in Hollister, so Gonzalez opened his own business, Superior Bakery.

“I love Hollister,” Gonzalez said. “I had a very, very good experience growing up here.”

Six years ago, Gonzalez felt it was time for a change. He became an accountant with the county, shot up through the ranks and was elected to the county clerk’s position in June.

“I always had the intention of preparing myself to someday be a candidate for clerk/

auditor/recorder,” Gonzalez said. “I think that attitude allowed me to be promoted as fast as I was.”

One of Gonzalez’s big priorities as clerk is increasing transparency, particularly in the elections department.

“The more transparent government is, the more confident citizens of the community will be,” Gonzalez said.

He added that when the county gets a new courthouse, he hopes the elections department will get more space, allowing the public more room to observe the elections process.

Gonzalez said he also wants to move the department toward a paperless system, which he believes will lower costs and improve efficiency.

Hodges, Gonzalez’s predecessor, served as clerk for 24 years. Gonzalez said he plans to be county clerk for a long time, but he added, “I don’t see myself staying as long as John has. I don’t think I’m going to live that long.”

Anthony Ha covers local government for the Free Lance. Reach him at 831-637-5566 ext. 330 or [email protected].

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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