letter to the editor pajaronian

Freedom to Uncork Corralitos

On behalf of Freedom Rotary, I would like to say thank you to Alladin Nursery who was the wonderful host for the Rotary Club of Freedom’s successful sold-out inaugural Uncork Corralitos event on Oct. 22.

The afternoon was filled with hundreds of people enjoying the live festive music, which featured Jazz the Dog while our guests were able to enjoy the fruits of our Corralitos “Appalachian” vintners and the hops from our local breweries and cideries.

This event could not have been such a great success without our local wineries: El Vaquero Winery, Storrs Winery, Anatum Winery, Windy Oaks Estate, Nicholson Vineyards, Las Nietas Vineyard, Lester Estate Wines, Regan Vineyards Winery, Wargin Wines, Assiduous Wines, Ferrari Ranch Wines, La Vida Bella Winery, Buena Vista Brewing Company, Woodhouse Blending and Brewing, Fruition Brewing, Tanuki Cider and Santa Cruz Cider Company. Thank you for serving up your spectacular sips.

Our major sponsors for the event helped achieve our goal to provide proceeds to this year’s beneficiary, Pajaro Valley Shelter Services. To make this a win-win fundraiser and an all-hands-on deck event with a service project to build a play structure on one of the Shelter’s campuses with some of the proceeds.

The following contributors helped cover our costs to bring this event to our guests: Jacob Young Financial Services, Miller Mansfield, Inc., Kirk Schmidt, Lincoln Street Radiator, Strock Team, Bay Federal Credit Union, Graniterock, Reb and Pat Rebele, Home 2 By Hilton, Integrity Lending, A2I Inc., Harrison’s Color Corner, Totlcom, Henderson and Company, Corralitos Feed and Pet Supply, Maura Matera, CPA, Jacobs Engineering Group, and Tri-County Trophy.

We are a small community and it is important that we help support each other. As a service organization, this is what we do best. As the President of Freedom Rotary, we abide by our own four-way pop quiz: Is it awesome and did we have a great time? Were we inclusive to have others join in and be co-conspirators? Did we rub elbows and grease wheels to make things happen? Did we all wake up the next morning and remember what we all did to brag about?

If you want to learn more about how you can get involved in your community, there is no better time than to look us up and join us for a Tuesday meal. We are a hopping hands-on club and are always looking for community movers and shakers to join us. Come check us out. For an invitation, email us at: [email protected]. Thank you.

Trina Coffman-Gomez

President of The Rotary Club of Freedom

A wolf in sheep’s clothing

Read the language of the ballot Measures Q and S. Measure S is a wolf in sheep’s clothing that claims to maintain the existing growth restrictions but in fact opens up the Urban Limit Line and makes it meaningless with 11 words: “…with the exception of any property identified by the City Council…” That means that a single vote by the City Council could put any of our farmland fields up for annexation. Riverside Drive? The Nugent Ranch? 

However, Measure Q gives Watsonville 18 years to concentrate on infill development on existing vacant and under-utilized sites within city limits. The highest and best use of these world-class soils is to grow food, not houses or big box stores. No one wants us to turn into the urban sprawl of San Jose. 

S is for Sprawl: Annexing our farm soils is not the answer to housing issues. Vote Yes on Measure Q.

Sam Earnshaw


Why vote yes on Measure Q

Vote Yes on Measure Q because our agricultural lands are in one of the smallest and most unique climate and soils areas on the planet, and should never be built on. These soils should be classified as a World Heritage Agricultural Site with their ability to grow a vast array of crops on the coastal level ground in our mild dry summers and cool winters. Our protected lands could be linked with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, as the Pajaro Valley shines as a rare locality for land and water resources.

By extending the timeline of the existing Urban Limit Line, Watsonville can concentrate new growth on available vacant sites, without the threat from the deceptive city-based Measure S, that can go after farmland parcels with a single City Council vote.

Defend our past and our heritage by voting to protect our future with a Yes vote on Measure Q.

Jerry Thomas


Fair decision shows state’s true colors

Thank you Dennis Osmer for your very articulate and properly titled article in the Oct. 28 issue of the Pajaronian.

This purported audit is nothing but a bad railroad job to discredit a hardworking individual and two board members who supported him.

Each of these individuals have spent many years of their lives dedicated to the community and especially the fair.

Dave Kegebein gave his heart and soul to make the fair a success, donating two years of salary back to the fair.

Loretta Estrada, 45-plus years, of tireless dedication, and Jodi Belgard, 16-plus years, are to be commended for their stand in correctness of procedure for the right to vote without being persecuted for a different viewpoint.

Even an IRS auditor discusses or queries a taxpayer for justification or correction, not a termination.

The state of California is gradually usurping our individual speech rights as well as our way of life, showing the bureaucratic authoritarian regime’s true colors.

I am also an advocate of saving our farmlands.

Without farmland, there is not another industry to save the city of Watsonville.

Farming provides stability to the community, and the labor force provides food products to be shipped nationwide.

Our beautiful valley, of some of the richest soil in the world, needs to be preserved.

Vote yes on Measure Q

Teri Wempe


Keep the hospital board together

Please reward our Watsonville Hospital Board’s successes by voting Nov. 8 for the incumbents and keep our new board together within the Pajaro Valley Healthcare District. 

Together with our community and hospital, we kept open and brought our hospital under public ownership. My fellow incumbent Jasmine Nájera was instrumental in setting the tone for our success, in holding team members accountable, and doing the work that resulted in bringing together $66 million in donations to our community, while fulfilling her daytime job of serving our community as the Executive Director of the Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance (PVPSA). It has been my honor to get to know her over this past year as we served side-by-side. She has earned my absolute trust and respect that she has the right vision, is the right person, at the right time for our hospital’s future. She has been the constant voice to ensure our new District and our hospital provides the services our Monterey and Santa Cruz communities need, for our seniors who have been part of our communities many successes to our youth who will guide our future successes. 

Our community can’t financially afford nor risk delaying our recovery and expansion plans in these first few months with a change in our new leadership team. While I respect and appreciate anyone who would choose to run for any office, now is a time to keep our proven team together. But it is the time to invite those who want more engagement to support our hospital through our many new public committees that will focus on improving and expanding our services, our clinical care, and finances. 

Marcus Pimentel

Incumbent, Director, Treasurer, Pajaro Valley Healthcare District 

Save climate, save farmland

With every acre of farmland we lose around Watsonville, we lose the ability to store carbon and produce world-class, cool-season fruits and vegetables. Every acre of farmland developed puts pressure on remaining lands that grow the food we need—making it harder to use that land to help reverse climate change. Agriculture is already climate stressed because of unpredictable droughts, searing heat, severe storms and invasive pest species.

Farms that incorporate cover crops and compost build soil carbon and biodiversity, making them more resilient to climate extremes. Hedgerows and restored riparian areas help to draw carbon into their woody branches and also support beneficial insects and birds that are declining because of climate change and other factors. Farms that employ these practices also reduce their use of toxic pesticides.

Watsonville needs to strive for walkable neighborhoods within its Urban Limit Line—the kind that Felipe Hernandez speaks of, where we build housing along transit corridors, so people live where stores and other amenities are located, the need for cars is less, and easily used public transportation can be available for longer trips. Building buyable condominiums instead of apartments will help residents build generational wealth. Attached dwellings are also more energy efficient. Reducing carbon emissions from transportation and building designs are some of the biggest ways that communities like ours can reduce our carbon footprint. 

Infilling Watsonville with climate friendly housing helps to conserve farmland which we need to cool the planet. Please join me in voting yes on Measure Q!

Jo Ann Baumgartner


South County feels pressure to develop

I’m voting Yes on Measure Q and No on Measure S. Although the proponents of Measure S infer that they are only interested in developing parks and affordable housing, I think the pressure to develop large subdivisions and apartments for median income, on future Watsonville City Councils, will be tremendous.

UCSC plans on adding 10,000 more students and there is already no place to house existing students. In addition, the price of single-family homes in Santa Cruz will drive developers to the South County to develop. If we open the door to development, I can see no end to it. I’m all for affordable housing, and our local governments are doing what is expected by the State—making a good faith effort.  

We are at the same crossroads as when developers were pushing to develop the beautiful coast-line, north of Santa Cruz or Light House field, on West Cliff Drive. Thankfully, citizen activists were able to block these and preserve what we love about Santa Cruz County. 

Mark Trabing


Bilicich is a proven difference-maker

Why would anyone want to be subjected to the public eye as a community representative? There is no possible chance that any decision you make when voting on certain items and issues will please 100% of the community residents. This leaves one open to public criticism, positive and negative. Yet, there are people like Nancy Bilicich that have an inner drive that causes them to put themselves out there. Why? Because they believe that they can make a difference for the better good of the whole.

Nancy Bilicich has been around public community office for several years and has been a part of many accomplishments. She has worked for many years to be a representative on the Pajaro Flood Regional Management Agency. Finally, after many years the Agency has acquired the funding to move forward with new levees; a long battle that will now have a large impact on the community of Watsonville and Pajaro.

This is just one of the projects which she has pursued over the years, which many are no longer aware of at this time, but which others may want to take credit for in an election year.

Our community needs someone that advocates for the residents of the community that live and work within our city. Nancy represents what the everyday citizen longs for: clean streets, better infrastructure, more safety, more fire stations, more control of speeding on our streets. These are issues which confront the everyday citizen and which she has been advocating for our community for years.

Nancy is a product of Watsonville, a graduate of our local schools and has a Doctorate of Education. She is the Director of Watsonville/Aptos/Santa Cruz Adult Education. She has been a City Council member, serving for nine years and a year as the mayor. She has the experience, knowledge and inner spirit needed to accomplish the tasks needed to make our city cleaner and safer.

Vote for Nancy Bilicich for City Council, a proven and productive representative for the City of Watsonville.

Fred L. Castillo


Dutra demonstrates commitment to his community

I am writing to offer my enthusiastic support for Jimmy Dutra, candidate for Santa Cruz County’s 4th District Supervisor position.

With so many serious issues facing our community as we emerge from the pandemic, Jimmy is the right leader to advocate for the needs of South County residents. Jimmy approaches issues directly, engages diverse perspectives in developing policy, and will always collect opinions and feedback from the people he represents in the decision-making process. I have seen first-hand the hours that Jimmy spends listening to community members, following up on requests and responding to inquiries. Jimmy is the real deal and will continue to lift up this community that he loves.

A leader who can inspire others, Jimmy has drawn so many members of the community to volunteer with local organizations, engage in fundraising for nonprofits, and explore the arts. He has created opportunities to celebrate young leaders in Watsonville. As Jimmy serves as Supervisor, he will continue to create these opportunities and will keep his constituents informed and interested, creating spaces for meaningful and engaged citizenship.

When Jimmy served as mayor of Watsonville in 2021, he faithfully used social media to keep constituents informed and to solicit input about critical issues of public interest. As mayor he was intentional about uplifting local business and community organizations by issuing monthly proclamations—even stewarding the development of videos depicting local business owners in their own spaces (an effort to bring some celebration and normalcy during virtual City Council meetings). Jimmy is creative, innovative and collaborative and will continue to bring together the community.

For all of these reasons, I will be voting for Jimmy Dutra for 4th District Supervisor. I hope that you will join me in electing a leader who will continue to demonstrate a commitment to his community.

Lucy Azevedo Rojas


Dutra can accomplish even more as supervisor

Jimmy Dutra has my support and vote to become the next Supervisor to represent the Watsonville people. 

In the last couple of years, especially during the pandemic, I’ve gotten to know Jimmy as a friend, neighbor and as a community leader. I supported him as he ran for our district’s City Council seat, and I also applaud him for the great job as mayor of our city. When Jimmy represented the city as mayor, we were more informed about our city and what was happening. This shows his commitment to the people of Watsonville and his willingness to work with the community.

I drive by the Covid Butterfly Memorial every day that Jimmy helped facilitate and bring to fruition during his tenure as Mayor in remembrance of the community members who lost their lives to Covid. There are people there every day visiting the site and enjoying the sculpture and what it represents. This shows that Jimmy cares about the community.

Jimmy was also behind the creation of the group that forged a relationship with the Portuguese Sister City.

He has worked closely with State and Federal agencies to establish funding for the infrastructure projects and to revamp Ramsey Park.

As supervisor, Jimmy’s top three agenda items are homeless issues within the city, mental health issues that are increasing at an alarming rate within the community/increasing health services, and roads and infrastructure.

Being mayor for one year he did so much for the community. As County Supervisor he can accomplish much more representing the people of Watsonville for the next four years.

Jimmy has my vote!

Abbie Gordon


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  1. I voted for Felipe Hernandez because he actually has the interests of Watsonville residents in mind while Dutra doesn’t. Who in their right mind votes NO on affordable housing? Dutra did. He also has a molestation charge against him. I just don’t trust him to do what is best for our community.


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