This community opinion was contributed by resident Mark Jeffers. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.
I’ve been watching as local politics unfold. Some campaigns are boring. Take the Mayor of Hollister. Every two years he whines about developers ruining the town, people attacking him and how they all work for developers. He makes all kinds of vague accusations. How many more terms (he’s had four so far) before the people in our sleepy town wake up? He puts on a smiling public face, but you want to see his true colors, man just watch a council meeting online and see how he behaves. He tramples city rules, divides council members and treats the general public really rude. He likes you, unless you disagree with him. Then you are either lying or work for a developer.
What has been really interesting is watching some strange alliances develop between slow growth candidates and the groups against ballot Measure N, the Strada Verde tech park for autonomous and electric cars. Measure N sounds really great, a project that would bring tons of jobs and dollars to the community. But it has faced attacks from all sides. I understand supervisor candidates weighing in since it’s a big project in the county. But what’s with Mayor Ignacio attacking it repeatedly? It’s weird, since it’s not even in his town. Don’t you wonder why?
Last week Mayor Ignacio revealed the real reason why he wants Measure N to fail. In one of his videos, he promotes some new project at the business park in Hollister with property owner Bill Christopher. What’s fascinating is the project turns out to be an autonomous car project. Wait, you mean a competing project to the Measure N Strada Verde project? Yes, but not exactly, since it is a small test track and not much more. No research park, no thousands of jobs. So is this why he continues claiming they are building a city and homes?
Even more bizarre is the Mayor made up with his arch enemy Victor Gomez, a former councilman-now lobbyist and campaign consultant who just happens to be the consultant handling this competing project. Just a few months ago, the Mayor and Councilmember Resendiz were accusing him of a hate crime. Last Monday night at the council meeting Victor’s project gets the green light and they are patting each other on the back. Strange alliance. But this is a pretty big conflict for the Mayor don’t you think? Is he really trying to tank a great project that would bring millions for the county, just so this small city project can move forward? It boggles the mind.
It has also been hard to figure out what’s going on with local resident Frank Barragan and all the opposition campaigns he’s launched against Measure N. First, he starts a group called Strada Verde Hazard on Facebook using scare tactics to get people to vote no. Claims he is Chair of Concerned Citizens of San Benito, but so far he seems to be the only member. He sent out a bunch of postcards. Hires an attorney and sues the county claiming the ballot wording is biased. Then he finds himself in hot water with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) because his postcards did not state who is funding them.
Then Frank creates another committee called No on N – no more growth and unsafe developments. He copies the design of those big yellow signs from that other No on N group that PORC is doing. Suddenly, yellow signs everywhere. And then he does another postcard. He has spent probably more than $50,000. His own money? No one knows since he hasn’t filed any campaign donation information. Do we really believe he is paying for all this himself because he is a concerned citizen? We don’t know who the big money is behind his campaign. Maybe someone should ask the Mayor or Victor if they know?
Then there is that other strange alliance. The slow growth candidates around town and PORC joining forces with Frank. Yeah the same guys who scream about big donations and developer money. What is their reaction to Frank, a guy who has spent over $50,000, is under investigation and appears to be not disclosing big money donors or even possibly competing developer money? Well, it seems they have welcomed him. They have worked together against Measure N and smear anybody that supports it. Ignacio Velasqez, Kollin Kosmicki, Jacki Morris, Julio Rodriguez and PORC. In fact, Jacki Morris, a member of PORC running for city council in San Juan, mentions both Frank and Kollin several times on her candidate page. And Frank’s No on N page has Mayor Ignacio videos all over it. And the Mayor has even done an ad with the four of them on as the slow growth candidates saying that is who you should all vote for. But ask any of these candidates if they concerned about where Frank’s campaign money is coming from? Crickets…
Strange alliances, dirty politics and hypocrites. It is hard to trust candidates that sling mud so easy, and then attach themselves to someone of questionable character just to achieve their own goal. I’d rather vote for the other guys who run clean campaigns. That shows real character. I think we’re all gonna be glad when this election is over. We can hose down all the mud until next time.