I’m glad I attended the Benito Link and California Farm Bureau sponsored ‘Use Your Voice Forum’ on Thursday night. I’ll be honest and say that I’d already made up my mind about voting to re-elect Mayor Velasquez because I believe he is much more qualified to do the job than his opponent. I was however very interested to hear what he had to say about Hollister’s growth explosion and how he thought it should be handled. I was very happy to hear him say that he thinks we need to slow the growth because our infrastructure can’t keep up. I was also thrilled to know that the possibility of widening Highway 25 looked good. I think with two more years in the position of mayor, Ignacio Velasquez, can bring about more positive change to our fair city.
The race for District 4, which I happen to live in, was the most important reason for attending Thursday night’s forum. I hadn’t heard much about the candidates or their views and wanted to be an informed voter. An October 12th article in the Freelance touched on how the candidates weighed in on our motorcycle rally, something very important to me. I’d hoped that subject would be broached during the forum but was not aware that the candidates would answer only three pre-arranged questions. They were very significant questions and my determination to vote for Roy Simms who sees the value of our rally was solidified.
Both Burns and Simms are running for the District 4 position because they want to make a positive difference for the city of Hollister. The major difference that I see in the two is that one is a seasoned bureaucrat and one is not. I don’t know about everyone else but I’ve had it with bureaucrats. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Tim Burns is a great guy with good intentions but I think the status quo has got to go.
Mr. Burns comments about the rally in the October 12th Freelance article as well as his closing statement at the forum attest to a bureaucratic outlook that I have come to loath. He said that he wanted the rally to pay for itself, and to that I can agree. But, like many council members before him, he wants to reinvent the wheel. He believes that instead of embracing Hollister’s place in history as the Birthplace of the American Biker and capitalizing on the tourism that brings to our fair city, we should concentrate our efforts on a more family friendly event. I’m not using his exact words, he spun them pretty nicely in his closing statement, but it is what he meant. He mentioned the Garlic Festival just as others before him have done. It absolutely blows my mind that anyone could begin to imagine that the city of Hollister will ever grow an event, (maybe an Apricot Festival) to rival the Garlic Festival or the already internationally known motorcycle rally. It’s pure lunacy.
We have some other great events that are growing in popularity that can’t be called family friendly. The Hollister Downtown Associations Beer and Wine Stroll and the Beer and Bacon Crawl have been a huge boom to downtown businesses. The Beer and Wine Stroll sold out 750 tickets this year and the new Beer and Bacon Crawl ran out of their 300 tickets a full five days before the event. I assure you that they will have a lot more tickets for that one next year. It was their first time and they didn’t know what to expect. Should I, as a business owner assume that Mr. Burns will frown on those events because they aren’t family friendly?
When asked about the rally in the same article, Roy Simms said that city leaders should capitalize on tourist’s events. He said we should continue to make the rally better and stop having discussions about whether to have it or not. Now that I can get behind.
Would I choose a candidate simply because he was pro-rally? Please give me more credit than that, folks. Roy Simms is a family man who wants to make Hollister a safe and thriving city to bring his children up in. He wants to bring big business to the area so that our entire community doesn’t have to drive to another county for work. A couple of his comments really struck me. First of all, he said he believes that although our country is in the middle of terrible turmoil we need to start at the community level to bring about change and make a place for our children to have a future. Secondly, he stated that he doesn’t want Hollister to be the bedroom of another community. He wants our community to thrive on it’s own, and he wants to collaborate with others to see into our future with a master plan. Once again, not his exact words but my interpretation of them.
So for me the choice is clear. Roy Simms for city council district 4 means less bureaucracy, a new vision from a family man who wants a good future for his children in Hollister, and yes, a successful motorcycle rally for years to come.