Mickie Solorio Luna’s first official act as a city councilmember took place Dec. 9, when she was sworn in at a special Hollister City Council meeting, along with fellow council newcomer Karson Klauer. But the newly elected representative of District 2 has a long history with the city.
Luna worked for the finance department for the city for 30 years, before retiring seven years ago.
“When I started working for the city, the city was a lot smaller,” she said, noting that all the city departments were in one location. “I worked under five finance directors and they all had different styles of work…I think the historical knowledge of the city really helps.”
According to the official election results, Luna won the seat against opponent Victoria Montoya with 51.5 percent of the vote.
Luna said she opted to run for the District 2 city council seat because she wants to be a voice for the residents of not only her district but the city.
“When I take that oath of office, that is exactly what I intend to do,” she said prior to this week's swearing-in ceremony.
During her campaign, Solorio Luna kept a log of the concerns raised by residents in her district. She said the main concern that came up in her district was safety, noting that residents asked questions about installing security cameras outside the downtown area and how to create neighborhood watch programs. The district residents were also concerned about sidewalk safety and about the lack of resources at parks, such as restroom facilities and lighting.
“We have a couple of parks on the west side – beautiful parks, but there are no restrooms and no lighting,” she said. “That is an improvement that should be made to accommodate the families and people using the parks.”
On election night, Luna she spent the evening with her family and friends at home. Since she had run for a national office with the League of United Latin American Citizens against people from much larger cities, she said waiting for election results wasn’t new to her.
“I went to bed really late,” she said, of waiting up to see if the election would be decided in her favor. “If it is to be, it will be.”
Having worked as a volunteer on election days for 23 years at precincts in her district, she said she knew the numbers of provisional ballots is usually low.
“When the vote by mail came in, I was a little bit more relaxed, but I thought I would just wait and see,” she said.
Luna has been an active community volunteer for many years, including a serving on the national board for the the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), a national organization that advocates for advancing the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of the Hispanic population of the United States. During her time with LULAC, she researched 33 years of city council minutes to help support moving Hollister to district elections to allow for more diverse representation on the city council. The city is currently divided into four districts with an at-large mayor.
Luna said her involvement with LULAC taught her about what other communities are doing and that corporate sponsors are often willing to help if they are informed about a community’s needs.
“I was able to share some of my knowledge regarding the city and the county,” she said. “There is no difference between Latino issues and other issues. Everyone is concerned about health, the economy and water.”
Even before her involvement with LULAC, she said she was an active volunteer at the schools her children attended and with local community nonprofits. She was a den mother for a Cub Scout troop, Baler Band Booster Club treasurer, an officer for the Mexican American Committee of Education, a chairperson for the grand jury and served in many more roles.
Luna served on the Latino Advisory Committee for Gavilan Community College, the Mental Health Advisory Board and the Community Action Board, which helps to decide which programs to fund with Community Development Block grants from the federal government.
“When you serve on the Community Action Board, the funding comes in from grants and you get to distribute it,” she said. “It trickles down to agencies and it doesn’t matter if you are living in the city or the county – what matters is the fact that you are helping someone.”
During her first term, Luna said her top priority will be overseeing the financial spending of the city, its reserves and its investments.
“I want to make sure we have plenty of reserves,” she said. “We live in an earthquake community that has been devastated in the past.”
She said she wants to make sure the council is accountable to the community and said transparency is important.
“If I believe something is important, I will bring it up,” she said. “I may be the only vote, but someone will know how I feel. I’ve done that throughout my life and that’s going to change…I’m hoping I will bring ideas to the city and the city council. As a team, we can work together because I’m really not about being divisive. This is really part of a team and that’s what I want to be.”