Victor Gomez joins San Jose councilman’s staff

Councilman Victor Gomez speaks at the Highway 25 bypass opening in 2009.

Hollister Councilman Victor Gomez has somewhere around 10,000 constituents here. This month, he also started looking out for the good of another 100,000 or so residents in San Jose while answering to another elected official there.

Gomez, reelected to his second term as a Hollister councilman in November, started a job in early January working for San Jose’s newly elected District 10 Councilman Johnny Khamis.

Known for the past four years as a pro-business councilman who coincidingly runs the Papa Murphy’s franchise on Airline Highway, Gomez has narrowed his professional focus to politics and just politics. Each morning, he now joins a majority of working Hollister adults and drives a considerable distance to and from his full-time job.

On Jan. 2, he began his new role as council assistant on the San Jose official’s staff. He said his wife, meanwhile, has taken over running the couple’s take-and-bake pizza shop.

So on one end, he is serving Hollister residents who elected him Nov. 6 to another four years as a top decision maker. On another, he is answering to another big-city councilman up the road on Highway 101.

As his reasoning for taking on the new job, Gomez remained open about ambitions to progress politically.

“I think, primarily, it was just advancing my role in politics,” Gomez said. “I knew this position was going to give me the opportunity to grow politically.”

Like Gomez, Khamis is a Republican and small business owner. The Hollister councilman said shared values between the two played a major role in his decision to pursue the staff job.

Gomez said he and Khamis “kind of knew each other” previously through Republican Central Committee activities. When Khamis won in November, someone in the office pointed Gomez to the potential opportunity.

“We didn’t really come in contact with each other until after the election,” Gomez said.

In the position, Gomez handles issues dealing with transportation and related environmental items. He helps Khamis with those topics – the San Jose councilman is an alternate on the Valley Transportation Authority board – as well as general organizational matters, Gomez said.

The VTA connection actually was the lone question mark that arose when Gomez met with the Hollister city attorney over his new job. Gomez had to resign from his Hollister council-appointed seat on the Council of San Benito County Governments, he said, due to issues that arise with VTA.

As for any potential time conflicts, Gomez said Khamis is understanding of his obligations to Hollister constituents and allows for flexibility. Gomez said his weekends are free and that he works part of Mondays for Khamis – so he can set aside time to meet with local residents. The council also holds its regular meetings on Mondays.

“Obviously, I’m not the first council member who’s worked out of town at a full-time job,” he said.

Khamis said he, too, was looking for staff members with similar values – though his main objective was to find people who were “go-getters.”

He said he expects the staff to help execute his vision as a council member.

“My job is to make sure that my goals as a city council member are accomplished,” he said.

As for those goals, Khamis said he wants to make sure businesses feel more welcome. He said he often gets complaints from business leaders that no one from the city is listening to them. They say it is hard to do business in San Jose, he said.

“I want to make that concept go away,” he said.

He said Gomez has been “extremely responsible” and energetic.

“I think I made the right choice,” he said.