This column was contributed by San Benito Live founder and San Benito County Supervisor District 2 candidate Kollin Kosmicki. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.
We have a foundation for greatness as a community here in San Benito County, but we must finally get our priorities right in order to reach our true potential.
We are all very fortunate to live in a place with vast open spaces, mountainous landscapes, ideal weather, deeply rich rural character, small-town charm and vibrant culture.
We have one of just 62 national parks in the entire country where the endangered condor graces our skies and extraordinary biodiversity flourishes. We have a beautiful state park, a world-class off-roading facility, the historic lure of San Juan Bautista, well-respected wineries, a fledgling restaurant scene, delightful boutique shops, beloved events, farm stands and farmers markets, an untapped municipal airport, campgrounds, fishing spots, golfing destinations and many other recreational resources.
We’re the Birthplace of the American Biker. We’re the hometown of iconic filmmaker and playwright Luis Valdez and his widely cherished El Teatro Campesino theatre. We have an abundance of talented artists and artisans. We have a fiercely proud Latino culture. We have deep Native American roots with seemingly endless tales of resilience, hardship and sacrifice. We have ever-growing diversity, blended families and schools where acceptance is increasingly emphasized. We’re Cowboy Country and home to one of the most family-oriented local rodeos around.
We are San Benito County: a truly unique place with truly unique assets.
Before we can reach such aforementioned greatness, though, we must stop falling prey to the notion that we’re inherently disadvantaged and remain obliged to accept mediocrity in how we progress.
Yes, we are a rural community, and typical demographic stereotypes aren’t always on our side if we’re looking to the future through a simplistic lens. To reach our potential, we have to first acknowledge the special nature of this phenomenal community and start to focus more on our positive attributes than our burdens.
We must get serious about establishing a vision that fits in line with the desires of a vast majority who often feel voiceless due to generations of institutionally dismissive government leaders.
That means focusing on aggressively expanding our tourism industry and departing from the tepid marketing approach we’ve taken thus far.
It means officially branding our county as “Home of Pinnacles National Park” and rejecting the small minority viewpoint with an ingrained disdain toward this ecological gem.
It means putting an intense focus on building our infrastructure, particularly our road and water systems, to the point where we can accommodate all of this rampant, irresponsible development we’ve experienced in recent decades.
It means ending the good-old-boy political culture driven by a small faction’s motives for greed, individual wealth and notoriety.
It means doing our part in the battle against climate change by rejecting the constant push for local sprawl and developing our community through real smart-growth philosophies emphasizing infill development, walkable neighborhoods and affordable housing near conveniences.
We can grow in a responsible way and reach unlimited potential as a community. I know we can. We clearly have the foundation to get there.
Ultimately, though, such a monumental shift in our collective attitude starts with local voters who have to decide whether they are satisfied with the status quo or truly want something better. It’s up to our electorate to do their research, think deeply about their choices, stand up for change and demand a more enlightened vision for San Benito County.