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March 29, 2020

Leaders gather in Gonzales to discuss county issues

City, county, state and federal figures attend special meeting

GONZALES — Monterey County Board of Supervisors scheduled a special meeting at Gonzales City Hall to host county leaders all the way up to the federal level in a discussion of area issues.

Chair Supervisor Chris Lopez oversees District 3, which includes a majority of South Monterey County, and said he wanted to showcase a part of his district for the Feb. 21 meeting.

“This is an opportunity for us to have a conversation about the issues that impact us here locally, at the state level and the federal level,” Lopez said. “This isn’t an opportunity that arises often, being able to sit at a table like this and have a conversation with those people who drive policies important for all the residents of Monterey County.”

Also present in addition to the full board of county supervisors were: Congressman Jimmy Panetta, Sen. Bill Monning, Sen. Anna Caballero, Assembly Member Mark Stone, Assembly Member Robert Rivas, Gonzales Mayor Maria Orozco and representatives from the offices of Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

“We like each other, we get along, we actually trust each other, and that helps our professional relationship in order to get things done for the people,” said Panetta of the community leadership.

“I think it’s important for them to listen to what we’re doing locally and how we’re impacted by some of the decisions they make,” Orozco said. She noted the importance of grant money to small cities because of not being funded under entitlements. 

“There are some serious infrastructure projects that we understand need to be attended to, not just politically but financially, in the Salinas Valley,” Panetta said. “I believe the federal government needs to step up and play its part when it comes to infrastructure investment.”

Orozco added, “It’s great for them to hear what our challenges are and our efforts to get things done.”

In the spirit of collaboration, Orozco used her presentation time about Gonzales to show a video about the Culture of Health award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The city earned the national award by forming partnerships with local stakeholder groups and agencies.

“That highlights all the different things we’ve been working on and the end results of some of our projects and collaborations with our partners in the school district,” Orozco said.

Anastacia Wyatt, the county’s housing program coordinator, spoke about housing in the county. Among the highlighted projects, she mentioned an upcoming 225-unit development in Greenfield, which required not just the costs for construction, but also a commitment for 20 years of support services for low-income homeowners.

During a discussion about homelessness in the county by Lori Medina, the county’s social services director, she noted funding for homeless support is given to cities with social services departments. In Monterey County, however, the county has that department, not the individual cities. This makes the funding of needed programs more difficult to obtain.

The gathered leaders also heard information about and discussed the issues of preserving the Old Monterey County Jail, updating the San Antonio and Nacimiento dam and spillway, fire insurance and the 2020 Census.

Sean Roney
Sean Roney
Sean Roney is the reporter for King City Rustler, Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers education, government and general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.

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