Government / Politics

Primary Election 2022: San Benito County Board of Supervisors District 4

Three candidates are vying for the South County seat.

This article was written by BenitoLink intern Leila Sadeghian


Three candidates are running in the June 7 primary election for the San Benito County Board of Supervisors District 4 seat. Incumbent Supervisor Bob Tiffany is not running for re-election. 

Tiffany was elected in November 2020 to complete the term of Jim Gillio, who resigned in July 2020.

The two candidates who receive the most votes on June 7 will face a runoff election in November. However, a candidate can win the seat outright in June if they receive more than 50% of the vote. 

District 4 includes South County, San Juan Oaks, Ridgemark and Cerra Vista Elementary School.


Tony Avilla, 74, was born in San Jose and raised by his parents on a walnut ranch near San Jose and Milpitas. He moved to San Benito County three years ago. Avilla is a construction manager, retail manager and small business owner. He completed a year and a half of general studies at San Jose City College and has never held an elected position.

BenitoLink: Why are you running? 

Avilla: I am concerned about the condition of our roads, the rising crime level, rising taxes, and poorly managed growth. I believe I can make a difference in these areas. 

What are the three most important issues to your district and how would you address them?

The three most important issues are: Highway 25 improvements, water management, and smart county growth.

Are there issues, besides those mentioned above, that you feel are important to your district that the public may not know about?

Strong law enforcement, fiscal responsibility, parental involvement in schools, and personal rights.    

What’s more important for our county right now, building commercial space for revenue or preserving rural, agricultural land—and why?

Both commercial space and rural, agricultural land are important to the future of the county. Both will bring revenue and good jobs to our county.

What is the role of local government?

Local government is the closest to the people and therefore can be the most responsive to residents’ needs. Local government has the first responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of our residents. Local government is the first place for the people’s voices to be heard. Local government also provides business licenses and building permits, and implements the education of our children and our ability to vote. 


Angela Curro, 52, was born and raised in Clackamas County, Oregon. When she was 14, her family moved to San Jose, where she attended Santa Teresa High School, then De Anza College in Cupertino where she studied public administration. Curro’s primary profession has been as an election administrator in California including as the assistant county clerk-recorder for San Benito County. She is currently serving on the Board of the Ashford Highlands Mutual Water Company, which is a landowner-elected position. Curro has never held a voter-elected office.  

BenitoLink: Why are you running? 

Curro: San Benito County is growing. We can’t stop it, but we need to be smart about it. I am running for supervisor to ensure growth is smart, hold local government accountable and support the health, education and safety of our residents. I will work to connect and unite our community by ensuring continuous communication that is factual and transparent. We must strengthen our economy without burdening our residents. Together we can keep San Benito County moving forward.

What are the three most important issues to your district and how would you address them?

The top issues in District 4 are: 1) failing infrastructure, including roads, traffic, and essential services (water, sewer broadband, etc.); 2) affordable housing; and 3) public safety.

If elected, I will work with community leaders and experts to address these issues by supporting economic recovery and development. We must attract the types of commercial and industrial development that improves our tax base and still maintains our rural heritage. This includes supporting local and new businesses that provide livable wages and support local careers.

Residential development must make sense and affordable housing is a higher priority. Any new residential development can’t be just financially good for today, it must be financially sustainable for years to come. As a community, if we can’t support and maintain new development, then we shouldn’t build it!

We need to build trust between the community and law enforcement through strong partnerships and communication. I will support public outreach and law enforcement training.  Together we can bridge our differences and unite our community.  

Are there issues, besides those mentioned above, that you feel are important to your district that the public may not know about? 

Specifically, to District 4, I would help bring funding sources to rural communities. This would include connecting water district representatives to potential grant funding for infrastructure improvements. Also, I could help identify federally funded programs to help other important projects move ahead, such as bridge replacements and broadband internet availability.

In addition, the Board of Supervisors has very little authority or responsibility when it comes to our education and schools. However, that does not mean that it isn’t important. Due to the pandemic, parents have been more connected to the schools. If elected, I would be available to help parents and schools build relationships that help support our youth academically and emotionally.

Lastly, homelessness and mental health issues are a concern across the country, and this is another area where I would work to improve services and safety.

What’s more important for our county right now, building commercial space for revenue or preserving rural, agricultural land—and why?

The revenue challenges of the county are substantial. The ag industry is our largest and must be protected. However, stopping new industrial and commercial development will cripple the county. This would have a negative impact on the services to our community. Without growth we will not be able to fix our infrastructure problems. To ensure growth is controlled, we need to review and update our General Plan to ensure that zoned areas for commercial development are clearly identified, without any loopholes for developers. At the same time, we need to preserve areas zoned for rural and agricultural uses.

Building commercial development in authorized zoned areas is essential to solving our current revenue shortages. The increased revenue from new developments will allow us to address the problems facing our community: older infrastructure, upkeep of roads, lack of affordable housing, and public safety concerns. Our current property and sales tax revenue is not enough to meet the needs of our community. We need to have a step-by-step approach to development that maintains the rural beauty of our county, and also allows us to successfully serve our residents.

Preserving rural and agricultural land must always be one of our primary focuses. Smart growth that maintains our rural heritage is essential to the welfare of San Benito County. If we work together as a community, we can have both.  

What is the role of local government?

The role of local government is to bring the greatest good to our residents, so that everyone benefits. I believe local government should work hard to serve our people in the most efficient, and cost-effective manner, with customer service being our highest priority.

Also, as a local government, we can advocate at the state and federal levels to ensure we receive our fair share of funding for maintaining and improving our infrastructure and public services including roads, affordable housing, health, safety, and social services.  


Elia Salinas, was born in Texas to migrant farmworker parents. She lived in San Benito County and eventually moved to Gilroy, where she attended local schools, including Gavilan College. She also attended Barclay College in Kansas and USC School of Law. She has not held an elected office position. Salinas works as a paralegal and cannabis consultant.

BenitoLink: Why are you running? 

Salinas: As an active member of the community I have been aware of the local issues as far back as 27 years ago. I have a historical understanding of the issues affecting SBC. Having attended the County Board of Supervisors meeting consistently for the last seven years, my foundation of knowledge and participation in these meetings is an asset to moving forward with my vision of SBC as a supervisor for the next 50 to 100 years, and not placing band-aids to temporarily solve issues.

What are the three most important issues to your district and how would you address them?

Roads, roads and roads. With 450 miles of roads in SBC, District 4 is the largest geographically in miles. To repair roads it costs $1 million per mile, therefore we need to be creative in attracting commercial economic development to SBC in place of deterring. 

Are there issues, besides what is mentioned above, that you feel are important to your district that the public may not know about?

Broadband has become an essential utility that is lacking in South County. SBC must strategize prior to negotiating with providers to assure SBC receives the best, cost-effective quality service. SBC must apply for the state and federal broadband grants available.               

What’s more important for our county right now, building commercial space for revenue or preserving rural, agricultural land—and why?

Both are equally important. With San Benito County having grown at 1.1% in the last 10 years, we should continue looking toward the future with measured growth while protecting our rural and agricultural lands and continuing collaboration with the San Benito County Agricultural Land Trust. Emphasis should be made on affordable housing. The General Plan has designated appropriate zoned properties where commercial development will bring much-needed economic development. These properties, called “nodes,” specifically on the Hwy 101 corridor with millions of vehicles that pass by San Benito County on a weekly basis, would bring greatly needed tax revenue.

What is the role of local government?

Local government runs our county utilities, libraries, public safety (fire department, sheriff’s department and ambulance service) county parks, landfill, and many other areas of our everyday lives including but not limited to county roads, county bridges, approval or denial of housing and commercial development projects, and legislation of ordinances for the protection and betterment of life and property in SBC.



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Leila Sadeghian