Wayne Norton has served San Benito County in various public and private roles for 35 years. The Aromas Water District Director said his breadth of experience has prepared him to be the County’s next District 2 Supervisor.
“When (current District 2 Supervisor) Anthony Botelho decided not to run (for re-election), I saw this as an opportunity to continue my service in a different venue on a different stage,” Norton said. “That was my impetus to run—I saw an opportunity to take service to a different kind of level.”
Norton said rebuilding the local economy remains the top priority from which all other sectors will benefit.
“It’s tied into everything we do because we don’t have revenue streams or infrastructure,” he said. “And if we don’t have that, we won’t have the ability to improve Highway 25 or expand broadband connectivity for the entire county.”
Supporting local businesses and recruiting better-paying jobs are key to jolting the economy, with Measure N—the Strada Verde Innovation Park—crucial to those efforts, according to Norton.
“I think Strada Verde has the potential to be a game changer,” Norton said. “This project has so much potential for jobs and revenue coming in that it would be the first step in providing economic stability for our families. Of course, it’s very important this project is done in an environmentally sensitive way.”
In 2019, Norton earned recognition from Assemblymember Robert Rivas as an Environmental Advocate. He was also a member of the committee that supported Measure G, which was approved by 70 percent of the county voters to fund critical road improvements.
“From that experience I paid a lot more attention into how things get done and how government works,” he said.
Affordable housing and broadband connectivity are also two key points on Norton’s to-do list. Norton has formed a panel of housing policy, construction and financing experts to create a white paper outlining a detailed plan to increase the percentage of affordable housing and wrote a grant to expand broadband access to areas in the county that are bereft of online access.
“It’s been pointed out that an estimated 20 percent of students in the Aromas-San Juan Unified School District can’t participate in distance learning because they don’t have access to broadband,” Norton said. “That’s outrageous and we can’t let that stand. We formed an access committee to raise funds to equip buses with wifi equipment and to put wifi transmitters in parking lots so in the very least families could drive their kids to these lots and access wifi. We know it’s a band-aid, but it’s something. Our goal of course is to get broadband to every nook and cranny in the County.”