Government / Politics

Election 2020: Hollister City Council District 4

Tim Burns and Julio Rodriguez run for seat left vacant by the late Marty Richman.

Watch candidates for Hollister City Council District 4 answer questions from the BenitoLink 2020 Virtual Election Forum.

After the death of Councilman Marty Richman earlier this year, two candidates filed to fill his District 4 seat on the Hollister City Council. Voters will decide between Tim Burns and Julio Rodriguez on Nov. 3.

District 4 is on the southeast side of Hollister, running along Airline Highway from Enterprise Road down to Fairview Road, then north to Hillcrest Road. Resembling a jigsaw puzzle with a number of pieces missing that are stretches of county land, the district surrounds six communities. A small portion of the district crosses over Fairview Road to include the Sunnyslope Water District facility adjacent to Santana Ranch.

Tim Burns has lived in Hollister for 22 years and previously ran for the District 4 position in 2016. He has been married for the past 34 years and has two adult children. He enjoys old cars, sports and collecting items like watches and Jerry Garcia ties.

Burns is currently employed as a community compliance division manager for the city of Fresno, where he manages a staff of 30 compliance inspectors. He has previously worked for the cities of Los Gatos, Hollister, Visalia, and Spokane, Washington. He also worked in public safety, in addition to being a retired police officer and police ombudsman.

In 2017, Burns was a member of the San Benito County Civil Grand Jury. He is currently a member of the San Benito County Community Emergency Response Team and the Council of San Benito County Governments Measure G Transportation Safety and Investment Plan Oversight Committee.

Tim Burns. Photo courtesy of Tim Burns.
Tim Burns. Photo courtesy of Tim Burns.

BENITOLINK: Why are you running for the District 4 seat?

BURNS: I decided to run to bring a sense of dignity, civility, transparency and accountability back to the City Council. I intend to treat everyone with courtesy and respect. I want to help to make a positive difference. I want to represent the needs and interests of the residents in District 4, not my own personal agenda. I will do the right thing for the right reason. I will not be intimidated or bullied. I have self-funded my campaign. I am not for sale. I cannot be bought.

What issues are most important to your district?

  1. Roads and traffic congestion. Completion of the Highway 25 project
  2. Residential development
  3. Jobs
  4. Parks

Are there issues you feel are important to the city or your district that the public may not know about?

  1. Police oversight and accountability. Does Hollister Police Department use body cameras, dash cameras and taser cameras? If not, why not? What is the Hollister Police Department’s use of force policy? How is use of force taught, reviewed, tracked, and reported?
  2. Are any of the positions on the Hollister Fire Department funded through the SAFER Grant? If yes, when does the grant expire? Are funds available to keep the positions if the grant is not renewed? When does the grant need to be reapplied for?
  3. What is the financial plan to maintain staffing resources in the event tax revenues are less than what is anticipated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
  4. We need to know more about the large development project on Fairview Road north of Highway 25 on the west side of the road.
  5. We need to know more about how the annexation process works.
  6. There needs to be a community conversation about the need for a code of conduct ordinance for all city-appointed and elected officials.
  7. There needs to be a community conversation regarding term limits for City Council members.

What obstacles and challenges does the city or your district face?

  1. A potential budget shortfall as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which could lead to a reduction in services
  2. Increased disposal fees
  3. Residential overdevelopment
  4. Transportation needs; a lack of adequate roads and maintenance of roadways

How do you plan to address those issues?

Meet with community members from District 4 to understand what their needs are and then work collaboratively with the mayor, council members, city staff and other state, county and local elected and appointed officials to pursue timely, efficient and effective solutions/outcomes. 

How do you intend to communicate and stay in touch with the constituents you would represent?

Through social media (Facebook, Zoom), neighborhood park meetings, phone, email and in person.  

Three major developments are being built along Fairview Road, two of them in District 4. What will be the impact of over 2,000 new homes in Hollister, and what can the city do to prepare?

It is my understanding that these two projects in the city were approved several years ago. The impact will be felt gradually as the developments are constructed in phases, marketed and sold, which will be determined by the economy, construction loans, weather and buyer interest. District 4 will be further impacted by two additional new county residential development projects on Valley View and El Cerro.

There will be added traffic to our already congested roadways, a greater demand on city infrastructure, an increase in the demand for city services, an increase in the use of city parks and an increase in the number of children attending local schools. Conversations should already be occurring between the city manager and the various city department directors to address the various challenges that these new developments will present to the city. The city has a legal responsibility to provide essential services to the new residents such as police, fire, water, sewer and garbage services. It is the city manager’s responsibility to provide the City Council with regular updates regarding any potential challenges that will occur as a result of this new construction.

Conversations should also be occurring with school and county elected and appointed officials regarding how these new developments will impact their delivery of services.

In most instances, if challenges can be predicted they can be prevented, if we are prepared. For example, if we know that we will need additional police or fire personnel as a result of this new development, then we should begin the recruitment and hiring process recognizing that it takes several months to years to hire public safety personnel. We can also begin to conduct traffic surveys and analyses to see if additional traffic calming or controlling measures will be required along Fairview and/or any of the connecting streets. 

What are the needs of the schools and parks located in District 4?

As a lay person I cannot speak to the specific needs of the schools in District 4 beyond the obvious, which is the need for additional resources such as qualified teachers, materials, technology, facilities, parent involvement and community support. 

District 4 has four parks that I am aware of; Las Brisas Park, Frank Klauer Memorial Park, Cerra Vista School Park and Valley View Park. I view parks as the hearts of our neighborhoods. You can tell how healthy the city is based on the condition of the parks in the city. As a council member, if elected, I would defer to the current District 4 Park Commissioner for their assessment.

I would expect that the park commissioner would visit the four parks in District 4 at least once a month. Once we are beyond COVID-19, if elected, I am proposing to hold neighborhood town hall meetings at the parks.

Our most immediate need is to get all of our park playgrounds reopened once we know what the new normal will be as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is my understanding that Valley View Park (aka Whale Park) is being expanded as a result of the two new residential developments on Fairview. Once completed, I anticipate it will meet the needs of the adjoining neighborhoods and will be well-maintained by the city.

When our family moved to Hollister, we bought our home specifically because it was located directly across the street from Las Brisas Park. When our sons were young they spent plenty of time playing in the park. Over the years the park has been maintained to varying standards. At one point for several months we bought the pet waste disposal bags for the dispenser. Occasionally the park sprinklers have broken and trees have died but in the recent past the park has been well maintained.

As a community we need to take responsibility to make the city aware when things are not being maintained or require repair. Our city personnel have limited time and resources. Perhaps we should advocate to acquire an app that we can report maintenance needs throughout the city. The app could be used to report the need for repairs or maintenance to city facilities, broken water pipes, street lights out or potholes. Our city personnel need to work smarter, not harder, and existing technology can assist them.

What is the role of city government?

To provide for the essential needs of the communities it serves. To ensure that safety needs are met. To strive to improve the quality of life for its residents. To be financially responsible. To be visionaries. To be honest, open, and transparent. To be approachable. To listen. To treat everyone with courtesy, dignity and respect. To be inclusive. 

 

Julio Rodriguez has lived in Hollister his entire life. Though he is single, he said family is of utmost importance to him. He enjoys playing basketball with friends in his free time.

Rodriguez currently works with special needs children as a paraprofessional at a local K-8 charter school. He said working at a local school has helped him gain insight into what the community needs inside the classroom. He also wants to continue learning about urban planning to be able to have a better understanding of the impact of future developments within the city.

Julio Rodriguez. Photo courtesy of Julio Rodriguez.
Julio Rodriguez. Photo courtesy of Julio Rodriguez.

BENITOLINK: Why are you running for the District 4 seat?

RODRIGUEZ: I made the decision to run for City Council because Hollister residents have voiced on social media platforms that they do not feel heard. They have also voiced that the current changes to the city are not the types of changes that they feel are needed or wanted by the general public. I want to be a voice for the people. 

What issues are most important to your district?

Time and time again, people have asked for specific roads to be fixed and widened before approving new real estate development in our community. This influx has created a strain on our roads and schools. More importantly, it has created unsafe driving conditions, specifically on Highway 25. 

How do you plan to address those issues?

I plan on strengthening partnerships with not only Santa Clara, Merced and Monterey counties, but also the cities within those counties. I would like to bring high-quality jobs to our city, but not at the expense of another county. We have competed with one another for too long. It is time we work together. For example, I would love to be a part of the VTA/Caltrans/COG Partnership and become part of the California regional planning committee to create/learn new and innovative solutions.

How do you intend to communicate and stay in touch with the constituents you would represent?

I will still use postal mail, but will additionally be accessible through email, Facebook, and Instagram, since social media has recently taken over our world in a way this past decade or so. I believe utilizing a variety of communicative platforms will bridge the gap between all generations.

What is the role of city government?

The role of city government (as well as my own role if elected) is to listen to the people. It also involves knowing when to ask for help on the tough issues. I would need to defer to experts to point me in the right direction when I may not have all the answers to everything figured out on my own. What is important is how we handle the unknown. We need to involve community members in actively participating in certain levels of important decision processes that affect the whole community.

 

BenitoLink is a nonprofit news website that reports on San Benito County. Our team is working around the clock during this time when accurate information is essential. It is expensive to produce local news and community support is what keeps the news flowing. Please consider supporting BenitoLink, San Benito County’s news.

John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a BenitoLink reporter and an author. He has many years experience as a freelance photojournalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer who has worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and underwent graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John has worked as a script doctor and his own script, God's Club, was released as a motion picture in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime that are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]