When I walked into the newsroom of the Register-Pajaronian for the first time in 2007, I felt an incredible weight of responsibility. Watsonville, after all, is a community that began even before John Watson established it in the 1850s.
The land was originally inhabited by the Ohlone people, colonized by the Spanish and in the intervening years populated by people and cultures too numerous to list here.
All of these have left their mark on the community, for good or ill. These are stories of tragedy and triumph. And it is these stories that we are tasked with telling.
That is a responsibility I have always taken seriously, and as the paper’s new editor, that weight rests more squarely on my shoulders than ever before.
We thank Erik Chalhoub for his work over more than a decade with the paper. He is a world-class editor, and his new company is lucky to have him.
It has been my honor to work in Watsonville for its newspaper—now called The Pajaronian—a publication as old as the city. And while the paper has gone through several transformations over the years, the mission remains the same: fairly and accurately reporting the news.
During my 17 years as a reporter I have witnessed some truly remarkable things. The city of Watsonville, at the behest of its voters, reinvented the way the mayor is chosen.
Voters in 2012 approved Measure L, a $150 million bond that allowed Pajaro Valley Unified School District to complete maintenance, renovation and construction projects districtwide. This included the 2021 completion of the sports field at Pajaro Valley High School, 20 years after the school was built.
I watched during the economic recession of 2008 as the school district’s leaders tearfully cut programs, services and jobs, and then slowly build the district back up.
It is with a measure of pride that I tell friends in other states that the Martinelli’s & Co. cider they’re drinking comes from Watsonville, a company I have written about, and whose leader I have interviewed.
I have walked through South County’s verdant wetlands, whose silence contrasts with the bustling city nearby.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of Watsonville is the community.
One doesn’t have to look far to find someone who attended Watsonville High School, and whose kids and grandchildren went there, too.
Watsonville residents are invested and care deeply about what happens to their community, and that shows during city council meetings and other public arenas, and in the letters we receive.
As I begin my new chapter with The Pajaronian, I want the community to know that we cannot do it without you. We rely on input and tips from the public, and indeed, some of our best stories have come when someone reached out to us.
I also appreciate hearing when we make mistakes. When that happens, our readers help us become better reporters and The Pajaronian become a better newspaper.
So reach out. We want to hear from you.