Sanchez must improve leadership as mayor

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Hollister’s mayoral position is a default leadership role in
some respects because it is not elected by the citywide populace.
As Hollister climbs from the depths of a six-year sewer-connection
moratorium
– all the while during a national recession – this city needs
more than a mere figurehead in its top political job. There is, on
the contrary, a crucial necessity for more.
Hollister’s mayoral position is a default leadership role in some respects because it is not elected by the citywide populace. As Hollister climbs from the depths of a six-year sewer-connection moratorium – all the while during a national recession – this city needs more than a mere figurehead in its top political job. There is, on the contrary, a crucial necessity for more.

Enter Eugenia Sanchez. Two years into her first term on the council, her peers Monday elected Sanchez to the one-year position as mayor on a night when members’ direction lacked clarity going in.

Their decision for the first time in years swayed from a traditional rotation that would have placed newcomer Councilman Victor Gomez into the mayor’s seat because he succeeded Monica Johnson, who had been in line for it. There was some talk of Councilman Doug Emerson returning for a second consecutive year on the job. Longtime Councilwoman and two-time Mayor Pauline Valdivia, meanwhile, would have been seated next after Gomez.

Council members had a lot to consider. They chose Sanchez in unanimous approval after other motions failed, including one from Emerson to elect Valdivia as mayor.

Sanchez apparently wanted the job, and now she has it. With that, it’s time for the new mayor to improve vastly as a leader if she – more important, the city as a whole – hopes for a successful term in the next year.

Although Sanchez had the worst attendance at council meetings over a 12-month stretch tracked recently by the Free Lance, she attributed it to a medical leave, and that’s fair as far as we’re concerned. The problem when Sanchez has attended, however, is a clear lack of preparation.

The meeting where council members canceled the Hollister Motorcycle Rally is a good example. Sanchez insisted on making the motion to kill the event. Yet, when it came time to decisively state such a bold plan, she stalled and asked City Manager Clint Quilter twice to articulate a motion.

Sanchez also rarely asks tough questions of staff, contrary to the mindset and level of assertiveness this board prefers – which includes consistently hard inquiries by council members during meetings where taxpayer dollars are at stake, where the council should be directing policy, not the city manager or department heads.

The rubber stamping by all council members, in fact, must end.

For Sanchez, though, and perhaps most important of all, she has to show a willingness to think freely, to share her own opinion, to articulate a thought that had not come from one of the four other council members – or the city manager.

Her first big duty on the job is to appoint council members to various committees, such as the Council of San Benito Governments and the Local Agency Formation Commission, to name a couple.

We expect Sanchez to do her homework, ask questions and make thoughtful choices that are best for the city’s well-being. It’s what we should expect of our city leaders, after all.

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