This community opinion was contributed by Hollister Vice Mayor Marty Richman. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.

Our official city seal is a rendition of the iconic clocktower at the corner of Fourth and San Benito Streets, the word “Hollister”, the year of establishment (1872) and words, “Hometown California.” We need to get back to the attitude that made Hollister “Hometown California” for so many.

It’s significant that the seal does not just say hometown; the word hometown by itself means the place you were born, where you grew up, or where you reside. To me the term “Hometown California” means more, a place where you will be welcome – where you will be invited to make it your personal hometown in every way even of you were not born or grew up here. We are inviting you to adopt Hollister as your own.

There is no question that change is stressful and some people have a very difficult time adjusting to new situations because sometimes they only see the negatives. This problem has been exacerbated because the rate of change is increasing and, simultaneously, the world is shrinking – change often comes from farther and farther away.

The reaction often results in scapegoating, blaming the elements of change, especially the new residents, for every problem. Crime is one of the primary areas of scapegoating. A recent article about the arrest of an armed suspect drew the immediate comment that it was the result of all the “new people” moving in. It turned out that the suspect was a long-time resident not to mention that Hollister has always had its fair share of crime, including violent crime.

If you’re crawling along Highway 25 there is no way to know that the other drivers are new residents. After all, as job availability and compensation grew in Santa Clara County more and more of those born and raised here took to commuting; oh, by the way, why are you on the road? “If you’re stuck in traffic you are traffic.”

The new populations in Hollister and San Benito County are our neighbors, for the most part they are just like those who have been here for decades or even generations, they are just trying to do the best they can for themselves and their families. They are no more or less responsible for crime, the state’s housing crisis or transportation ills than we are.

We need to welcome them and truly make Hollister and its surroundings Hometown California for all our residents.

-Marty Richman, Hollister City Council Member, District 4