This column was contributed by Valerie Egland, who is running for San Benito County Supervisor District 2. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.
San Benito County is a business by and for the people, and like any sustainable business, there is a business plan which drives all decision making. SBC has a General Plan, and not unlike the goals of a private or a nonprofit business, there are periodic reviews to assess if goals are being met and income is sufficient to achieve the goals. A major difference is that few businesses need to incorporate in their plans multiple layers of federal and state requirements and/or mandates. These are controlling elements that can be obscure to the general public until there is a big “Why?” resounding in the community.
Here’s my reflection on the Strategic Plan 2019-2024, that states, “The value of a Strategic Plan is in creating a framework to guide San Benito County; commitment of strategies and objectives; and communicate a common message: 1. Set a clear direction with targeted priorities; 2. Budget alignment; and 3. Departments alignment.”
In November, the Board of Supervisors, San Juan City Council, and Hollister City Council gathered in a retreat for a Strategic Plan Workshop. The mission statement reflects the vision of “San Benito County as a community that provides collaborative and affordable public services through diversity, innovation, and transparency.”
Mission: To adopt policies that reflect the goals and priorities of the community, design a network of services that prioritizes public safety, equality, and economic vibrancy while balancing commitments to the region’s rich history and prosperous future.
Stated values are: Community, Collaboration, Equality, Transparency, Respect, Innovation, Integrity, Serve & Protect, and Accountability.
Focus: 1. Operational Development & Excellence; 2. Planning for Sustainable Growth; 3. Technology; 4. Community Engagement; 5. Healthy and Safe Communities.
Outcome: 1. Implement a Strategic Plan in budget cycle and in the agenda; 2. Develop actionable steps to achieve focused objectives.
This Strategic Plan sets in place a way forward to get programs done, and facilitate the General Plan by 2035, for a successful county that is prosperous and vibrant. The hired and contracted professional staff, appointed commissioners and elected officials of the county are tasked to wade through and coordinate all of the needs in the community in addition to the existing priorities of: infrastructure, roads, water, and job creation.
The five supervisors are on a schedule of 24 wide-ranging committees to spread the workload and bring information back to the board for decision-making. This is a demanding year-round endeavor that is the supervisors’ job.
The commissions and committees appointed by the supervisors, alongside professional staff members, work on the GP implementation programs. They take on issues and projects that are finally decided by the BOS through their recommendation. This broad distribution of the work of the county makes governance possible.
As issues arise, the General Plan is the go-to guide on decision making, but circumstances change; therefore the GP is amendable, up to four times a year.
All five districts have particular needs from, and “gifts” to, the County as a whole. Gifts include a rich, developing tourist industry with parks, wine, history, and agriculture corridors. Others offer mineral development, ranching, airport facilities, industrial accommodation, schools and so on. All districts contribute to each other’s general welfare; therefore, cooperative development and support of the Strategic Plan will get us over the bumps.
Looking at all that the county has going for it, and how well it is being guided through the obstacles and challenges ahead, San Benito County and its diverse communities have a bright, vibrant future, filled with economic vitality.
Wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year!
Valerie Egland, San Benito County District 2 Supervisor candidate.