Candidates for the District 4 seat of departing Hollister City Councilman Victor Gomez —Tim Burns and Roy Sims — will give their views on various topics during the second "Use Your Voice" election forum at 6:30 p.m. at Hollister City Hall, 375 Fifth St., Thursday. The forum is presented by the San Benito County Farm Bureau and BenitoLink, and is produced in conjunction with BenitoLink’s media partner, CMAP-TV, which will broadcast the forum live.
Questions for the debate were solicited from the general public and neither candidate will have seen them prior to the debate.
Sims is technology director for the San Benito County Office of Education. Burns works at the County of Monterey Resource Management Agency. Each candidate’s answers to BenitoLink were sent by email for this pre-debate article.
BenitoLink: Please give a brief background on your professional experience.
Sims: Presently, I am the San Benito County Office of Education technology director. I support all school districts in the county directly and indirectly in capacities related to technology and data systems. I have led in securing state and federal funding, grant opportunities and have supported key bond measures. Through these funding modalities, I have been able to design and implement advanced networks and systems throughout the county.
Burns: I am currently employed by the County of Monterey Resource Management Agency. The agency consists of the Building, Planning, Public Works, Environmental Services and Code Compliance Divisions and the Parks Department.
I manage the Code Compliance Division. I have a dedicated staff of five with an operational budget of $991,000. In the past year my unit has increased our case closure rate from 60 percent to 75 percent. Our cost recovery rate has increased by 1,200 percent. It was anticipated that we would collect 30K. We have actually collected $400,000. Our unit was responsible for 10 percent of all building and planning permits issued. The assessed value of the permits was $600,000. We also have allowed property owners to invest $250,000 back into their properties to cure violations instead of paying significant fines.
Prior to returning to California, I was employed by the city of Spokane, Washington. Spokane is the second largest city in the state. I was hired as their first police ombudsman. I was selected through an extensive national recruitment. The position was created to increase confidence in the police department through transparency and accountability after a high-profile, officer-involved death. I worked with the city administration, the elected and appointed officials and the community. I issued monthly, mid-year and annual reports. I made public recommendations to improve the police department. I participated in all internal affairs investigations. I reviewed all internal affairs investigations. I was on call 24/7 and responded to officer-involved deaths. All are available on line at SPD Ombudsman.
Prior to Spokane, I was employed by the city of Visalia and created their Neighborhood Preservation Division. I managed the substandard housing, affordable housing, and code enforcement programs. The division thrived while I was there and continues to thrive.
I was also an appointed hearing officer for Tulare County. I issued findings on land use, building and zoning violations the county was pursuing.
Prior to working for the city of Visalia, I was employed for the city of Hollister as their first full-time code enforcement officer. I was laid off after two-and-a-half years when the building moratorium occurred. I worked with the City Attorney Elaine Cass to develop the tenant relocation ordinance.
Prior to that, I worked for the town of Los Gatos as a police officer for several years. I worked patrol, traffic, detective and as a field training officer.
I also have a lifetime, part-time junior college teaching credential. In the past, I have taught at the local police academy. I will be teaching a course at the state code enforcement conference next week and a week course to new code enforcement officers in December in Fremont.
BenitoLink: Why are you a better choice than your opponent?
Burns: Because of my variety and depth of experience working in public service and with appointed and elected officials. I have a verifiable, achieved reputation as a no-nonsense problem solver.
I have met with the planning and parks commissioner to discuss their concerns and visions. I have also met with the city manager twice to better understand the city from the inside out.
I have walked the neighborhoods of District 4. I have left information with or at 2,000 front doors. I have spoken with many of the residents to hear their concerns.
There are several important decisions that will need to be addressed in the near future. I have been on the County of Monterey ad hoc cannabis committee for the past year, so I understand the challenges that await regardless of the decisions made. I will also be tasked with its regulation through my division.
While in Visalia, I was on the General Plan update review committee.
I have also served on national, state and local organization boards. I am currently on the California Association of Code Enforcement Officers. I represent six coastal counties' members interests.
Sims: I have consistently demonstrated the ability to bring resources and agencies together to cross coordinate efforts. With this initiative, we can eliminate unneeded redundancy and combine those efforts to implement solutions on larger scales. Therefore, contributing to additional shared use facilities and community focused advancements.
BenitoLink: What are some specific tasks or goals you want to accomplish?
Sims: Responsible growth is a major goal of mine; I will continue to push towards the implementation of a city development master plan that assists with the fortification of a well-rounded municipality. Through continued collaboration, I will work with business owners, local organizations and city departments to ensure we approach every decision with a holistic strategy to capitalize on spending, efficiency and efficacy. Master plan initiatives such as transportation options, technology improvements and education facilities have to be at the forefront and addressed throughout the plan.
Burns: My priorities are public safety, the parks and community development.
I would like to see the creation of an ethics commission. This was actually a question asked at the LULAC candidate forum (their idea). I would like to see an annual council retreat in the chambers on a weekend to map out the next year’s goals. I would like to see a semi-annual meeting between the council and different commissions. I would like to see a state-of-the-city delivered by the mayor every year. I would like to implement the requirement for each city department to complete and publish an annual report.
If Measure W is approved, I want to see a strong oversight committee established that clearly demonstrates where the money received is specifically spent and an annual report presented. I also want an independent audit conducted annually with the results published, presented publicly to council and put on the city website.
I would like to see a branding or rebranding of the city. I would like to see the city continue to work with the county on the issues of homelessness and road congestion.
I would like to see performance measures implemented city wide to assess performance.
BenitoLink: How would you describe your ethical compass?
Burns: Predictable. Firm, fair and consistent. Trust, but verify. Transparent and accountable. I will do the right thing regardless of consequence. My campaign is self- funded intentionally so I am not indebted to anyone. My intent is to represent the majority who reside in the neighborhoods in District 4.
Sims: My intentions are to promote community solutions that give pride and direction to its citizens. As a community, it is imperative we continue to collaborate and invest locally to offer and promote sustainable jobs, community activities and shared-use resources. My ethical compass is guided by the perspective that as we invest in people through education, resources and opportunity we ensure that we can sustain as a fully operational community and not the bedroom of another.