Government / Politics

Three apply for SJB Planning Commission vacancies

Jackie Morris-Lopez, Priscilla Ribeiro and EJ Sabathia submit for two seats; former councilman Dan De Vries said he intends to submit an application.
Jackie Morris-Lopez. Photo courtesy of Jackie Morris-Lopez.
Jackie Morris-Lopez. Photo courtesy of Jackie Morris-Lopez.
EJ Sabathia. Photo courtesy of EJ Sabathia.
EJ Sabathia. Photo courtesy of EJ Sabathia.
Dan De Vries. Photo courtesy of Dan De Vries.
Dan De Vries. Photo courtesy of Dan De Vries.

Three San Juan Bautista residents have submitted applications to fill two vacant seats on the Planning Commission as of Jan. 7. The deadline to submit an application is Jan. 12.

San Juan Bautista Deputy City Clerk Trish Paetz told BenitoLink the three applicants are Jackie Morris-Lopez, Priscilla Ribeiro and EJ Sabathia. The two residents selected by the City Council will also serve on the Historic Resources Board, made up of the same members as the Planning Commission.

Paetz told commissioners on Jan. 5 that applications will be reviewed by the ad hoc committee made up of Councilmembers Cesar Flores and Mary Edge before applicants are considered by the full council on Jan. 15. The city began accepting applications on Nov. 25 and intends to fill the vacancies by the Planning Commission’s February meeting. The application is available here.

Morris-Lopez was a candidate for the San Juan Bautista City Council in November and lost by only 15 votes. She is also a member of the Urban Growth Boundary Committee and consistently attends San Juan government meetings.

Morris-Lopez did not respond to BenitoLink’s request for comment.

Ribeiro told BenitoLink she applied because she is passionate about leading the unique community into the future while honoring the history of San Juan Bautista.

“I want to invest in the community that my children live in and hopefully will also follow the tradition of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents of raising their families in San Juan,” Ribeiro said. “As a social worker of 17 years, my strength is in advocacy and the ability to use a holistic approach when viewing the needs of the community.”

Sabathia, a mechanical engineer, shared a copy of his application with BenitoLink which states that he moved to San Juan Bautista two years ago because he wanted to give his family the same “small and tight-knit community” he experienced in the Evergreen neighborhood of San Jose. 

Sabathia notes in his application that he and his wife have “put down roots and intend to raise a family here. I am very interested in what is going on around town and would like to lend my time/skills and efforts to enriching the lives of current and future residents.”

Former councilman Dan De Vries voiced his intent to apply for the Planning Commission in December. Though he has not submitted an application, he told BenitoLink he still intends to submit it “as soon as possible.”

De Vries served on the Planning Commission for 14 years before moving on to the San Benito County Planning Commission for 12 years. He spent his last four years on the City Council.

He said he loves planning because “it addresses issues that the community cares so much about and that I care about,” adding that it requires conversations about housing, agricultural land, preserving small town character and preserving the historical component of San Juan Bautista. 

“All those questions and discussions are fascinating to me,” he said.


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Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is BenitoLink Co-Editor and Content Manager. He joined BenitoLink as reporter intern and was soon brought on staff as a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. He is 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 was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily. He is a USC Center for Health Journalism 2020 California Fellow.