More News

Election 2018: Hollister City Council District 2

Incumbent Mickie Luna set to face Rolan Resendiz in November.
Incumbent Mickie Luna. File photo.
Rolan Resendiz. Photo provided.

The Hollister City Council will fill three open seats in the Nov. 6 election. Only one incumbent, Michelle Luna of District 2, is seeking re-election. Her challenger is educator and community volunteer Rolan Resendiz.

 

Michelle “Mickie” Luna was born on a ranch on Fallon Road and moved with her family from labor camp to labor camp before returning to Hollister where she began school at San Justo School on San Juan-Hollister Road.

Luna worked as a telegraph office manager and office manager for a finance company before joining Hollister’s finance department for 30 years. When her brother ran for office, Luna helped with his campaign. She later worked for other elected officials on campaigns. Luna said she became familiar with city proceedings as she attended council meetings as a city employee.

Luna said serving the nonprofit League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) on various positions has enabled her to make connections that serve as counselors, legal advisors and friends on whom she can rely for knowledge to make decisions as a councilwoman.

BENITOLINK: Why are you running for City Council? 

LUNA: First and foremost, I would like to extend my appreciation to the residents of the City of Hollister for the opportunity to serve them as the current councilmember and I am excited to once again humbly request their support. I am seeking re-election as District 2 Councilmember because city residents deserve an advocate with experience, integrity, commitment, and passion for the community. As a current councilmember, I am able to give back to the community that has provided so many residents, including my family, a wonderful place to live.

I have a proven record of cultivating positive relationships in the community, which have gained me the support and endorsement of various partners, including: Hollister Police Officers Association, Hollister Fire Fighters Association, eight former mayors, four former city department heads, and numerous local and statewide community leaders.

Ultimately, my role as councilmember is to be the steward of the community’s vision now and into the future. In my tenure as a councilmember, I have accomplished a great deal, which could not have been possible without the participation and support of our local residents. Some of those accomplishments are: 

  • Provided City staff with support to obtain grant funding for the construction of the West Gateway Project in District 2.
  • Assisted Planning Department with input on park Improvements, assuring all housing developments include recreational areas for our citizens and their families.
  • Supported our public safety agencies to have the adequate staffing at all times for our residents.
  • Supported funding to repair our streets and alleys where many of residents own their homes.
  • Encouraged business development by participating in discussions with corporations to locate in Hollister.
  • Assured safety for our schools by painting yellow crosswalks near all schools for student and parents to walk their children to and from schools.
  • Represented our senior citizen community in various funding allocations through the area Agency on Aging.

Over the next four years, I will continue to serve the residents with honesty and foresight of the challenges facing the city. In the upcoming four years, my focus will be to:

  • Continue to improve community engagement and participation in the decision making process. 
  • Continue to carefully consider development projects to minimize   significant adverse impacts to the community and ensure that adequate infrastructure is included. 

What issues are most important to the district? 

District 2 is located in the western portion of the city. It is rich in cultural traditions and according to the census its income levels are lower when compared to the other districts in the city of Hollister and in the county. As a lifelong resident and community advocate of District 2, I have in-depth knowledge of the key issues that are important to the residents and families of the district, some which include:

Affordable housing and sustainable growth. For six years, Hollister was in a building moratorium where growth came to a stop. With that halt came the need to provide adequate and affordable housing to meet the state-mandated regional housing need allocations. As a current councilmember, I am proud to have collaborated to bring eight new affordable housing projects to District 2. One specific project will bring in much-needed housing for our seniors. Our seniors make up 12.6 percent of the county’s population, and as the vice chair of the two-county Area Agency on Aging for San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties (Seniors Council) I am invested in their well-being, fair treatment and representation in District 2 and beyond.   

Education and employment. Accessibility to educational and employment institutions is key to establishing a strong workforce within District 2 and beyond. This includes, partnering with new businesses to encourage establishment in the city of Hollister so that we can expand our tax base. These institutions will in turn provide our residents the opportunity to both live and work in the city. Currently, approximately half (48 percent) of San Benito County residents commute outside the county or city for employment. This leads to a housing and employment imbalance that as a city we need to continue to address. By increasing employment opportunities for our residents, we will be able to create a more sustainable city. 

Infrastructure. Like most districts in the city, District 2 residents are concerned with the deterioration of our roads. The funding need currently surpasses the available funds to address most of these issues. However, the city has made significant progress in quickly allocating new state funding to local road projects to resurface the most deteriorated roads. As councilmember, I will continue to ensure that District 2 receives its equitable share of improvements and funds. 

Equity. As a priority, I have worked to ensure that the distribution of funds, programs and services are equitable across all city districts, while also recognizing those areas of the community that may require additional funds due to past infrastructure or service inequalities.

Quality of life. The residents of District 2 share some of the same visions as other districts, including: improving public safety, creating a vibrant district with commercial and mixed-use development, recreational opportunities to address public health issues and positive activities for the youth. Continuing to invest in the safety and education of our youth is of importance, which is demonstrated through my volunteer service to the community. I have been instrumental in developing local youth mentorship programs, scholarships and reading programs in collaboration with several local schools. I continue to be committed to serve as an advocate for quality education and access to higher education institutions for the youth of our community as almost one-third of our residents are under the age of 18.

The above-mentioned issues are not all isolated to District 2. Ultimately what affects one segment of the community affects the overall functionality of the city.

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

District 2 has two Hollister School District schools with the largest number of children that are eligible for free or reduced lunch programs. As an advocate for youth, it is critical to continue our work by ensuring collaboration between the school districts to guarantee that our children receive the resources needed to succeed. Through my community interactions, I have seen the crucial role that positive relationships between parents, school administrators and city officials have on children.

What obstacles and challenges does the district face? 

Some District 2 residents have expressed concerns with the future of the city as it relates to growth. Each housing and commercial development that comes before the city for approval will have a positive and an adverse impact. It is the role of the city to determine the level of impact that will be acceptable compared to the benefits that the project will bring. All developments are required to pay into the impact fee program, which helps mitigate the project’s impact to the community. Projects are carefully evaluated through several levels of review, including by planning and engineering staff, planning commission, other partner agencies (state and local), local residents, and ultimately by the City Council. Each city/county is required to meet their state-mandated regional housing needs allocations, which requires a certain amount of housing units to be build.

How do you plan to address them?

My role in addressing these issues is to be well-informed and to perform a thorough review of all development projects, regardless of size, that are proposed within the city. Ultimately, my goal is to ensure that there is a balance between commercial/industrial development and housing. In this process, it is extremely important that all development contributes its fair share of impacts to the local community. Over the last several years, the city has welcomed several commercial and industrial projects that will help generate revenue and jobs. Since District 2 is traditionally disadvantaged, I will continue to support and advocate for mixed-use development in the district in order to help create more employment opportunities for the residents. A step in accomplishing this goal is to construct the West Gateway Project, which will lay the foundation for encouraging mixed-use development in District 2. The project will improve bicycle and pedestrian safety in the area, along with recreational trails to help create a more livable community that all residents can enjoy.

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

Over the past several years I have held several well-attended interactive bilingual community forums and meetings to discuss updates on the various projects impacting District 2. There is always an opportunity to improve community engagement, especially from traditionally disadvantaged populations in our city.

Would you consider writing opinion articles for BenitoLink from your position as an elected representative? 

Absolutely, I would welcome the opportunity to inform the public about city-related topics of interest to the community.

What is the role of local government?

The role of local government is to serve the interests of the community in order for them to live a healthy and prosperous life. This is accomplished through ensuring that adequate services are provided and the community is an active participant in the process. As a city we must constantly evaluate the services that are provided and make policy decisions that are in the best interest of current and future residents. The city also has the obligation to be fiscally responsible with federal, state and funds generated locally.

 

Rolan Resendiz moved from East San Jose to Hollister in 1997. He is the father of a seven-year-old girl, a teacher-in-training at Hollister Prep School, and has been involved in helping his partner with his community-based art studio ArtiCulture.

He said he has also volunteered with different boards and nonprofit organizations.

While this is his first time running for office, Resendiz said he has always been part of politics on a grass-root level. Recently he has been involved in issues such as the 400 block and development through organizing community groups to voice their opinions. At an early age, he got involved by volunteering and poll walking for different causes including the United Farm Workers.

He received the California Peace Award in 2016 for the community work he performed in Hollister. Resendiz said the award mainly had to do with the project to paint utility boxes.

Resendiz said he did not value education at an early age, but after his daughter was born, he obtained an associates degree from Gavilan College, a bachelor’s degree in political science from CSU Stanislaus, and a masters in liberal studies with a concentration in public administration from Fort Hays State University in Kansas.

BENITOLINK: Why are you running for Hollister City Council?

RESENDIZ: I felt, like a lot of people, that my interests and my needs were not being met. If there is a person in office that you feel is not meeting your needs then they needed to be voted out. Either you hold them accountable and vote them out or just do it yourself if you think you can do a better job.

I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I feel like I’m better qualified and that I would really look out for the people’s interest better than my own.

What are some of the issues most important to your district?

First and foremost, I think the city is really concerned about the way we are growing. The City Council that’s been there has grown irresponsibly and they voted yes on all issues of development without really investing in our community and infrastructure. Second, there are some issues of ethics because of special lobbyists that are giving candidates money that are being backed by people who have interests in our city policy, and I think that clouds people’s decision-making. We need to limit the contributions that special interest groups give candidates so that we can help keep our system fair, transparent and honest.

I’m highly passionate about the community and our youth. We need to invest in them early on. We need to be more proactive rather than reactive so we can flourish into a thriving community in which our children can come back and would want to invest back into it.

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

Just representation. For so many years nothing has been done on my side of town that I’m going to be representing. There is a huge disconnect between what the people need, what they are asking for, and what actually has been done. We need better streets, parks, programs for the youth, art, and we need to develop in a progressive, innovative way.

It will take someone like me who is younger that is just starting a career in politics, who comes from a different generation and has different vibrant, progressive and innovative ideas.

Also I can connect to people on a cultural level. I don’t want to say just one culture. I’m very relatable to all people. We need to collaborate with everybody, not just one specific group, which I feel has not been happening. Everybody needs to be represented.

What obstacles and challenges does the district face?

The most important thing is that if we are not careful about the way we have been growing the last couple of years, we are going to essentially turn into a parking garage for Silicon Valley. We are at a turning point where it is very critical to take control of that. I feel like we are repeating history. This has happened before. If we keep re-electing the same people into office that have been there before, that got us into this mess, then you’re going to have the same exact result. We need to change that. I really feel like the public is going to make that happen this time around. I think people are frustrated with the local government.

How do you plan to address that?

We need to partner and collaborate with similar cities that are facing the unique challenges that we face. We are not the only ones that are facing this issue. There is a lot of land here, there is a lot of people interested in building here because the housing is more affordable and we have an overflow from the Silicon Valley. We need to collaborate closely with some of the partners that have navigated through these challenges successfully and we need to find out how they did it and how we can implement that to meet Hollister’s needs.

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

I think social media is a very valuable tool because it puts out a very convenient way to communicate with them. For those that are not used to using social media we can do it the old school way; have meetings and get to know each other, really bond and go to the park and barbeque and just talk to people about the issues. Really proactively stay involved. I’m young and I’m out there and I really feel like that is huge to be accessible and to be responsive. I don’t feel like the person that is in City Council right now is very responsive or accessible because she hasn’t been to me during the time she was my representative.

Would you consider writing opinion articles for BenitoLink from your position as an elected representative?

I would consider it, but I don’t know if I would do it for sure. I’m definitely willing to sit down and talk about it, but I don’t want to commit to it without really thinking it through and having a good discussion about it.

What is the goal of local government?

To advocate for the needs of the community. It’s the first line of government that is most accessible. You can create the most impact if you really get involved. But there has to be that engagement piece, there has to be the convenience, there has to be the transparency and most of all there has to be trust. I feel like we don’t have that right now.

 

 

BenitoLink Logo

Become a Member Today

Support your local independent news.

We work hard to give you the news and information you need. By becoming a member, you will be part of something bigger; BenitoLink, your community-supported news source.

Donate

About:
Noe Magaña (Noe Magaña)

Noe Magaña is a freelance writer for BenitoLink. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School graduate with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.

Add new comment

Add Facebook comment

Comment using your Facebook account. Facebook comments will be published on this page, and on Facebook. It will not be posted to the "Recent Comments" list on the BenitoLink front page.