Government / Politics

Local Democrats select new leader

Leslie Austin takes helm as party prepares for March 2020 primary.
Leslie mug.jpg

This article was contributed by San Benito County Democrat Party member Wayne Norton.

San Benito County Democrats have a new leader for the first time in nearly a decade as Leslie Austin has been elected as Chair of the Democratic Central Committee. Austin replaces Gregory Rivera, who served a long tenure as head of the local party.

As Chair, Aromas resident Austin is expected to direct official party operations in San Benito County and lead the county Central Committee that works to recruit and elect Democrats to national, state and local office.

“This is an exciting time for local Democrats,” said Austin. “We are preparing for a highly-competitive presidential primary in March 2020 that will provide a great opportunity for grass-roots action to further Democratic values.”

The local Central Committee installed several new members at its January 2019 meeting:

From County District 2:

  • Jackie Morris-Lopez
  • Wayne Norton

From County District 3:

  • Mickie Solorio Luna
  • Toni Notar
  • Richard Perez
  • Robert Summers

From County District 5:

  • Devon Pack

The San Benito County Democratic Central Committee meets monthly. The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. at the Barbara Room of the San Benito County Library. All Democrats are welcome.

For more information, visit the San Benito County Democrat Party website.



Wayne Norton

Recognized by the State Assembly in 2019 for protecting the environment, Wayne Norton is a two-term elected Aromas Water District director and candidate for San Benito County Supervisor in District 2. A Vietnam veteran and former political reporter, Wayne was the managing editor of the daily Hollister Free Lance. He is an active advocate for quality public education and was a founding staff member of Anzar High School, a California Distinguished School. As a former Ombudsman, Wayne protected the rights of residents in nursing homes and investigated elder abuse. He currently serves as a director on the Seniors Council of Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties, and has consistently led and volunteered for a variety of public commissions and community organizations since moving to the area in 1985. Wayne can be contacted at (831) 227-3530,, or on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.