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San Benito County Farm Bureau hosts south county election forum

The San Benito County Farm Bureau hosted an election forum for south county residents to hear from county candidates on May 17.
Supervisor District 4 and Sheriff candidates. Photo by Blaire Strohn.
Mindy Sotelo and Dara Tobias moderated the forum. Photo by Blaire Strohn.

The San Benito County Farm Bureau hosted a south county-focused election forum May 17 at Bolado Park Event Center.

The forum gave south county residents an opportunity to hear candidates’ views ahead of the June 5 primary, and featured San Benito County Supervisor District 4 candidates Jerry Muenzer, Jim Gillio, Elia Salinas, Sandy Swint, and Rob Bernosky, as well as incumbent Sheriff Darren Thompson. Deputy Sheriff Bill Hutchison, who is running against Thompson, had a prior engagement.

Farm Bureau Executive Director Mindy Sotelo and Fair Manager Dara Tobias moderated the election forum.

“Having south county residents become informed is important to make the right decision," Farm Bureau President Pat Wirz said.

South county represents 80 percent of the landmass of San Benito County. Some questions addressed issues like roads, law enforcement presence, fire and medical response time, and cannabis.

In response to questions raised about roads in south county, candidates focused on what they called, "forgotten rural roads".

Muenzer and Bernosky said they support another sales tax aimed at road improvements, while other candidates sought alternative methods to fix these roads so residents don’t pay another sales tax.

Muenzer addressed the Highway 25 realignment project which he said is now five years out due to environmental impact reports. For background on the realignment project, read

Residents who attended the forum showed interest in public safety and law enforcement presence. Incumbent Sheriff Darren Thompson said reducing response time is the top priority for south county.

“The Panoche Valley Solar Project currently has a negotiation with the sheriff’s department to cover the cost of providing a Sheriff deputy 42 hours a week to patrol Southern San Benito County,” Thompson said. “That will soon go away when the project is completed.”

All candidates were against Measure C, the proposed cannabis tax in the unincorporated parts of the county, including Elia Salinas who is the spokesperson for a cannabis extraction company.

"We can’t have a measure in place without policy, while others address the concern for public safety in the county if cannabis is allowed," Salinas said.

The election forum was held for south county residents who couldn’t attend the BenitoLink-Farm Bureau Forum on May 3. An edited version (partially funded by sponsors Community Foundation for San Benito County, SBC Eyecare, and Benito Valley Farms, and with help from media partner CMAP-TV) of each individual race can be viewed on BenitoLink.

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bstrohn's picture
Blaire Strohn (bstrohn)

Blaire Strohn is a graduate student at Oklahoma State University focusing on International Agriculture. Blaire also graduated from California State University, Fresno with a Bachelors Degree in Agriculture Communications. Born and raised on a cow/calf operation ranch in Paicines, she is passionate about the agriculture community and western way of life.


Submitted by Steph Smith (stephsmith) on

Authors of Measure C aim to trick voters in SBC into voting to overturn the present County Ban on Commercial Marijuana Cultivation next to Rural Homes – without telling you THAT is what you are voting for!
This Deceptive measure was submitted without a CON argument, but Measure C will have Major Negative Impacts on:
- Public Safety
- Environment
- Air Quality
- Property Values
- Water Supply
- Neighborhood Safety
- Quality of Life

MEASURE C aims to pull the wool over the eyes of County residents AND has a secret punch line:
Thought you were voting for a tax? Well you actually just voted to allow commercial marijuana farms next to your home. 

Measure C claims to provide funds for public safety, BUT instead will CREATE massive THREATS to Public Safety! Don't be Fooled.

Last FALL, a BAN was passed that FINALLY shut down commercial marijuana farms across the County.
These grows were neighborhood nuisances, caused major public safety impacts and invited criminal activity.
The Supervisors are using this measure to get your buy-in to allow major marijuana grows next to our rural homes.

Do you want San Benito County to go from being a Lettuce Bowl to being a stench-filled Marijuana Bowl?

In Greenfield, people are being driven out of their homes by the overwhelming stench from marijuana cultivation structures with filtration systems just like those proposed by our Supervisors! 

- Other Counties have found Big Marijuana doesn’t live up to its promises.
- Costs have outpaced lobbyists' promises of revenue!
- The Commercial Marijuana market is already oversaturated in California. Prices have tumbled and barely cover production costs.
- How will this benefit our County? The Answer is: IT WON’T.


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