Local Politics

San Juan Bautista’s new city manager looks to leave a legacy

Don Reynolds says getting the City Council “on the same page” will help re-establish priorities.

New San Juan Bautista City Manager Don Reynolds has got a to-do list as he familiarizes himself with city issues. 

Reynolds, in his welcome event at the Community Hall on July 9, gave attendees a brief update of what his first week involved. About 20 people gathered to welcome him, including Hollister City Manager Bill Avera, Hollister Fire Chief Bob Martin De Campo and four San Juan Bautista City Council members.

Reynolds told BenitoLink on June 20 that he plans to conduct a risk assessment to better understand the vulnerabilities in the city’s infrastructure, including the wastewater treatment plant and water wells. With that information, he can then update the City Council, “so they are all on the same page,” he said. 

Reynolds wants all issues on the table in order to create a priority list with the council. 

While looking at all the challenges he faces in his new role, Reynolds aims to hire a deputy city manager to complement his experience in public works, finance and community development.

He has a fraction of the staffing he had when he was the Salinas public works director, which is among the reasons why prioritizing plays an important role. Still, he said there were positives to having a modest staff of 13.

“A smaller staff can be much more efficient and you can address issues more quickly,” he said.

Reynolds said it’s harder to get buy-in for a new concept from a larger staff, as some remain skeptical because of past failures. 

“I’ve had a lot of success in Salinas changing some old minds,” Reynolds said, referring to the new library and police station that some people thought were never going to be built.

Reynolds said leaving a positive legacy like he did in Salinas is what prompted him to stay in local government. He said being able to tell his two sons he was part of building the library and police station was very rewarding. 

Reynolds knew San Juan Bautista primarily as a tourist before taking the city manager position. He said the city needs to continue preserving its historical features to attract visitors. Part of that is the city’s growth plan, which was a topic of discussion with the community panel during Reynolds’ interview process. Members of the community panel included former City Council candidates Harold Gomes and Jackie Morris, as well as residents Rachel Ponce and Robert Quaid. 

“We need to be pretty savvy about our development agreements, our development conversations and our general plan,” Reynolds said. 

Trying new things doesn’t seem to faze Reynolds. Rather than pushing his two sons into the baseball and football he grew up with, he is letting them to take their own course.

Dennis, a 16-year-old at Salinas High School, is a member of the mountain bike riding team as well as cross country. Christian, his 13-year-old, turned out to be a pretty good gymnast, he said.

“The one thing about the nontraditional sports is you have the intergeneration mix that you don’t have in formal sports,” Reynolds. “There is a lot of mentorship and growth. It’s really terrific to see.” 

Reynolds credits sports for teaching youth about the ethics of work. He continues to turn to sports in the course of doing his job. To organize all of his responsibilities in his mind, Reynolds takes the Forrest Gump approach: he runs. 

“That’s how I process all the business of the day.” 

 

Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus 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.