Government / Politics

Primary Election 2020: SBC Supervisor District 5

Two candidates talk housing, traffic and collaborating with the city of Hollister.
Jaime de la Cruz. Photo provided.
Jaime de la Cruz. Photo provided.
Bea Gonzales. Photo provided.
Bea Gonzales. Photo provided.

Two candidates will face off March 3 for the seat of San Benito County Supervisor District 5, incumbent Jaime de la Cruz and challenger Bea Gonzales.

 

Jaime De La Cruz has been District 5 supervisor since March 2004. He is also the controller and chief fiscal officer for West Coast Rubber Recycling, with over 30 years of management and accounting experience.

Why are you running?

I’m running for office because I want to make sure District 5 gets it fair share in funding to repair our roads and also complete projects that I have been working on to benefit our entire community such as a sports complex, making sure Measure G funds go toward widening

Highway 25 and local roads, and finish the salary comp study for our county employees. Too many county employees use San Benito County as a training ground for other counties.  

What issues are most important to your district? How do you intend to handle them?

Repairing our roads, bringing jobs to our community and making sure that housing that is being built is done with better planning so that it is affordable to our own community members.

I have been working with the city of Hollister to partner on road projects. For example, the county approved over $2 million to fix Buena Vista and Wright roads and soon will be working on Chappell Road. We need to have a more focused effort in bringing in new companies and also to make sure that new neighborhoods have a better mix for our local residents.

Like much of the state, San Benito County is affected by the housing crisis. What are your thoughts on how to handle housing locally, both in your district and in the county as a whole?

There are so many reasons for the housing crisis, but San Benito County should not be expected to solve the state’s problem on the backs of local taxpayers. I believe that we need to slow down residential growth and do a much better job at planning so that we have a better mix of housing so our own residents can afford them, rather than just building housing for people from out of town. 

A portion of District 5 overlaps with the city of Hollister. What is your plan to handle traffic calming on major thoroughfares like Fourth Street/San Juan Road and Buena Vista Road where there might be jurisdictional overlap?

I have been working with the city of Hollister to make sure we work as partners on many of the roads in my district to implement traffic calming measures. Again, we approved an allocation of over $2 million to work on Buena Vista Road. We have been having several meetings over the past several months with many community members participating.

How does your life outside of politics influence what you offer as a candidate?

My life outside of politics as a chief fiscal officer for a local recycling company for over 10 years grounds me and reminds me that we can be much more efficient in government. In the private sector world we cannot just ignore our customers and then charge them more for the work we do. Our focus should always be about taking care of our residents so they can have the best quality of life possible.

How will you communicate with your constituents?

As a four-term county supervisor, every year my favorite way to communicate with my constituents has always been by walking neighborhoods and meeting with them in their home and hosting small functions to discuss District 5 issues. I also use social media as a way to communicate local events to as many people as possible.

 

Bea Gonzales was born and raised in San Benito County. She was elected to serve on the Hollister School District board from 2006 to 2010. She holds a BA and a JD degree and is an instructor at Gavilan College, where she’s taught the GED program for six years, two of which were at the San Benito County Jail teaching inmates. Gonzales has also been employed by the Aromas-San Juan Unified School District for 12 years as a “super sub” who accepts daily and/or long-term assignments when emergencies arise.

Why are you running?

I am running for San Benito County District 5 supervisor because I believe that the people of San Benito County deserve much more from their supervisor than has been provided to them in the past. For years, District 5 has been neglected, and it has been underserved and underrepresented.  

I am running because the people of San Benito County need advocates who can resolve the gridlock, disruption and dysfunction that has trapped San Benito in a downward spiral of shrinking revenues for governmental services and inflating costs. We need leadership that can ensure a high quality of livability for all San Benito County residents.

I am running because we need leadership that is courageous enough to ask questions and relay that information to the public with honesty and integrity. We need to provide opportunity for residents to give input and to be informed when important decisions are being made. We need a supervisor who will serve the people without a self-serving agenda. And, we need a supervisor who will vote in a manner consistent with the will of the people.  

As an educated woman who was born and raised in this community, I feel that I offer the voters a choice as an advocate for change. I possess a law degree and ethics, and I have a vested interest in our community. With my proven ability to build bridges and foster professional relationships, I believe that I can serve my community well. As your supervisor, I promise to be open-minded and available for input, comments and critique. And, I promise to serve as a true public servant to serve with accountability, transparency, and integrity—without hidden agendas.   

What issues are most important to your district? How do you intend to handle them?

The three most critical issues facing our community are creating safe neighborhoods, fixing and improving our roads, and promoting good jobs and developing affordable housing.  

Public Safety: We must ensure that public safety is a top priority. Law enforcement and firefighters need to have adequate funding and the necessary tools to keep our community safe. We need increased police presence in our neighborhoods with random patrols, rapid responses, and reactive investigations. We also need to encourage the philosophy of community policing that builds relationships and uses partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address conditions that give rise to public safety issues.     

Roads and sidewalks: Our streets and roads are in subpar condition! Many roadways lack sidewalks or safe bike lanes. Major arteries in and out of San Benito County—such as Highway 25 and Highway 156—are unsafe and inadequate for the volume of traffic. Improvements and repairs need to be done immediately without the long delays that we are experiencing such as the eight-year delay for the proposed Highway 25 permanent improvement. Highway 25 is a shared responsibility between state and federal transportation agencies, SBC, and Santa Clara County. We must look to matching funds and creative resources to address this critical issue. As elected leaders, we must reach out and work closely with our counterparts to help make Highway 25 a priority.  

Good jobs and affordable housing: The lack of affordable housing and good-paying jobs are significant concerns in San Benito County. From 2001 to 2018, only 27% of the allocated and mandated housing units have been built. We must ensure smart growth by creating walkable communities where residents can work, play and spend locally. We also have to promote jobs and industry. We must make it possible for residents to work where they live—thereby reducing traffic congestion and ensuring a high quality of life.

Like much of the state, San Benito County is affected by the housing crisis. What are your thoughts on how to handle housing locally, both in your district and in the county as a whole?  

The issue of housing in San Benito County is extremely polarizing. There are residents who are concerned with uncontrolled growth. While there are others who understand that available housing is inadequate for the community’s present need. We must work together to construct more affordable multi-family, high density units which may require the city and county to work with developers to encourage that type of construction.  

We also need to work with the State of California to ensure that we are securing loans and grants to help develop more affordable housing in SBC. At the same time, we must work with the cities of Hollister and San Juan Bautista to create a standardized, transparent zoning and permitting process that is easy for the public to understand. The process must also flow and compare in costs and expectations to that of neighboring counties such as Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey. Presently, our county gives very little in the way of incentives to developers to develop affordable or high density housing. As a result, developers prefer market rate housing, which only adds to the inflationary cycle and does little to alleviate the affordable housing issue. It is imperative for county and city officials to work together and be proactive in our combined efforts to combat our housing problem.  

A portion of District 5 overlaps with the city of Hollister. What is your plan to handle traffic calming on major thoroughfares like Fourth Street/San Juan Road and Buena Vista Road where there might be jurisdictional overlap?

Related to our housing issues in Hollister and San Benito County is the issue of traffic congestion. Since District 5 overlaps a portion of the city of Hollister, then both city and county officials will need to work collaboratively to resolve our traffic problems. Heavily traveled roadways such as Fourth Street and Buena Vista Road will require additional and visible patrol enforcement. We will also need to be creative in our efforts to install speed tables, if permissible, to slow the pace and speed of traffic.   

Buena Vista Road, from Highway 156 to North Street, needs additional stop lights, street lamps, lighted crosswalks, and construction and installment of curbs and sidewalks. Both jurisdictions will need to allocate funds in their annual budgets to accommodate the requisite improvements. I promise to work with Hollister government to ensure that there is a coordinated effort to develop modifications to the roads to reduce the steepness of the curves, thereby creating a safer road. 

How does your life outside of politics influence what you offer as a candidate?

My life outside of politics compliments my ability to run for office and be a public servant. I am a lifelong resident, a mother and grandmother who raised her family in this community, as well as a teacher and a community advocate. My job is to advocate daily for my students’ needs.

As a teacher, one has to be friend, confidant, mentor, role model, social worker, disciplinarian, and compassionate listener. As a former Hollister School District trustee and a former Hollister Parks and Recreation commissioner, I have served in capacities where building bridges, promoting professional relationships, and acknowledging and making compromises were commonplace. Given the above, along with my law degree, experience in the legal field, common sense, hands-on approach and willingness to work with others will be a skill set that will serve me well in my role as your supervisor.   

How will you communicate with your constituents?  

As a county supervisor, I will keep regular posted office hours in an effort to maintain open lines of communications with my constituents. I will be accessible through my Facebook and social media pages. And, I will make a commitment to canvass my district, even after I am elected. It will be good exercise and a great way of hearing from everyone, even from those people who cannot or do not attend community events. I will be open to suggestions and willing to hear viewpoints that may differ from my own.  

Patty Lopez Day

Patty Lopez Day,  has been a reporter for Benitolink since August of 2019.  A journalist and writer by trade she's had work published in print and online media throughout the Bay Area most notably La Oferta, the longest running Bi-lingual, Latino owned media outlet based in San Jose California where she started her journalism career after graduating from UC Santa Barbara with degrees in English and [email protected] studies in 2005.   Lopez Day covers Education, and Local News for Benitolink and remains open to new story ideas, sources and tips on any subject matter of interest to the community at large.