This is an open letter to residents on Hollister’s westside who are now represented in District 2 on the San Benito County Board of Supervisors. The district includes the western portion of the county ‒ including the Aromas area, San Juan Bautista area, Highway 156 corridor, Union corridor and now Hollister’s westside all the way to Westside Boulevard.
My name is Kollin Kosmicki. With redistricting in San Benito County this year, I am now enthusiastically serving as your District 2 representative on the San Benito County Board of Supervisors. I would like to introduce myself, let you know about important local issues affecting you, and provide ample ways to communicate going forward.
First off, it’s important to emphasize that I strongly believe interacting with constituents is the cornerstone of my role. I will always remain accessible to you and encourage feedback. This introduction is part of that approach, but there are many other ways to reach me.
I hope you received the postcard I mailed earlier this year, at no cost to taxpayers, to let you know I’m your new representative while providing my contact information. Here are other ways I stay in touch with constituents:
- Open office hours each Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Old Courthouse, 440 Fifth St., next to the entrance of the old courtrooms. I believe I am the first supervisor in the county to do this, at least in modern times.
- Video town halls before each county board meeting posted to Facebook and Twitter. You can find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/supervisorkosmicki and Twitter at https://twitter.com/kollinkosmicki
- Detailed written previews before all regular board meetings describing agenda items and then summaries of board actions after each regular meeting.
- Monthly emailed newsletters summarizing my activities and board actions, which provide residents opportunities to email or call about specific issues. Please sign up to receive the newsletters here: https://gmail.us3.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=b213877034c5f88c4819ae9fc&id=aab43956a8
- Updates on Facebook and Twitter and regular attendance at local events.
- I am always available to schedule in-person meetings. You can reach me by email at [email protected] or on my cell phone at (831) 207-0077.
- I also hope to see you in person when I am out in the district doing outreach with local residents to get their input on issues.
As for my personal life, my wife Cecilia and I have two boys, ages 14 and 1. My older son recently finished attending the Accelerated Achievement Academy on the Calaveras School campus and cherished his time there. We love this community and feel grateful to raise our children here.
Going back in my personal history, I grew up in the Milwaukee area and moved here in the early 2000s after graduating from the University of Wisconsin. Before my election to the county board in November 2020, I was a career journalist with close to 20 years in the industry. That included 10 years as Editor of the Hollister Free Lance, starting when it was still a daily newspaper, and also several years running the former Pinnacle newspaper. I built a reputation as a trusted watchdog and someone who always put residents’ interests first. I also started a local multimedia business, San Benito Live, which focused on positive community content and video storytelling. That business was growing and successful before the opportunity arose as a supervisor, and I made the decision to close it once elected to avoid any conflicts.
As a supervisor, I have hit the ground running in just a year and a half on the board with a bold, candid demeanor and I have successfully advocated for the following, among other areas of progress:
- Bold response to the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in significant improvements to our county’s vaccination rates and convenient access to testing.
- Historic investments in our businesses and nonprofits with the use of federal pandemic funds to help through economic turmoil.
- Tens of millions of dollars approved for new road improvements that are coming in the next several years.
- Monumental tax-sharing agreement between Hollister and the county that will set the stage for hundreds of new jobs in the coming years.
- Development of an economic incentive program to offer a partial sales tax reimbursement for new or expanding businesses for a limited time in order to promote job growth. This program is expected to come to the board for approval in the next couple months.
- Development of a program to allow micro-enterprise home commercial kitchens throughout the county as a way to help locals start food-based businesses without having to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in typical startup costs.
- Historic agreement with the San Benito High School District to develop the county’s new Riverview Regional Park, which will be a signature asset for generations to come.
- Ongoing overhaul of the county’s affordable housing ordinance to provide more housing opportunities for lower-income residents, while I have been a staunch supporter of slowing the growth of market-rate, single-family houses.
- Ongoing, aggressive pursuit to acquire properties to expand the homeless shelter and offer more transitional housing for homeless residents in order to help get them off the streets.
- Progress on plans and a financial commitment to expand the San Benito County Free Library
- Successful pursuit of a grant to fund the county’s first Broadband Master Plan, while we are looking to potentially invest significant federal pandemic funds toward increased broadband access and low-cost Internet service for lower-income residents.
- Legalization of cannabis cultivation and dispensaries in the unincorporated county.
- Increased funding to the S.N.I.P. organization in order to help address the problematic feral cat population in the county.
- Board approval to send a question to the November ballot asking voters whether county supervisors should have term limits.
- Approval of contracts with county unions that include fair and just pay increases for our hardworking employees.
- Various appointments from District 2 to county commissions and boards. There is a District 2 opening on the Community Action Board, which makes decisions on a variety of important social services. If anyone is interested or knows someone who would be a good fit, please let me know.
Lastly, I want to correct misinformation recently distributed to west-side homes on a flier about plans for a county property off Buena Vista Road. I want to be clear there are no plans to use this property for any sort of homeless encampment or what is referred to as a sanctioned safe camping or safe parking zone.
Supervisors at the June 28 meeting had consensus to continue pursuing a property next to the existing homeless shelter off San Felipe Road for a shelter expansion and possible use of adjacent land at that location for safe parking/camping. As for the Buena Vista property: The county is trying to hire a tow company to remove RVs and other illegally parked vehicles from streets and non-sanctioned encampments. Since no tow companies will take such vehicles, the county is considering use of the Buena Vista property as a temporary site where those vehicles could be towed and subsequently picked up by owners. But at this point, there are still no towing companies interested. In the long term, there have been preliminary discussions about options at the county property for some sort of affordable housing.
That is all for now. I appreciate your time and look forward to serving you on the county board. Please don’t hesitate to reach out anytime.