Holvik would bring with him years of experience
By Susan Meeker
Willows Mayor Vince Holvik learned along time ago that government works best when it is engaged in the way the country's founding fathers intended.
They warned against the problem of faction, and felt the cure for special interest influences was a government based on checks and balances — and one that separates itself from the demands of the few.
"Sometimes you have to make tough decisions — and those decision won't please everyone," said Holvik, one of seven candidates for Willows City Council.
Holvik, 65, served three elected terms on the City Council from 1988 to 2000.
After a brief hiatus, he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Suhail Khan in 2005, and was reelected in 2008.
If disenchanted with the position of late, Holvik tries hard not to show it.
"At this point, I could say I don't care if I win or lose," said Holvik, less than two weeks away from election day. "But that is not true — I do care."
Holvik acknowledged recent protests by an well organized group at City Council in recent weeks for proposing the non-renewal of Police Chief Bills Spears as a cost savings measure.
Spears is also running for City Council on Nov. 6.
But as unpopular as the decision has been to Spears' intimate group of supporters, Holvik maintains it is a decision the entire City Council stands behind.
"The city has a jobs budget," he said. "We have already cut to the bones so we have nothing left to cut but bodies."
Holvik said the City Council agreed early in the year to seek a balanced budget — but without dipping into reserves as it has done the past few years.
Expending reserves would ultimately end with the city in bankruptcy, unless the state's economy suddenly turns around, which Holvik doesn't expect in the next few years.
"Who do you cut?" he asked. "We have a one-person Recreation Department. If you cut that one person, then we have no recreation at all. Do we close the library? If we did that, we would have an entirely different group of people showing up at meetings to protest."
No decision, he said, could possibly satisfy everyone.
"I had to do what I thought was best for the city as a whole," he said.
But that is not to say Holvik took his decision to not renew Spears' contract lightly, because he said he knows exactly how it feels to be pushed from a job for financial reasons.
Holvik was a manager at Johns Manville, until the economy forced the manufacturing company to downsize its workforce.
Holvik retired from the business after 33 years.
"I get it," said Holvik, about Spears' reaction. "The man is losing his job. I've been there."
Holvik believes the overall troubled economy has not only impacted how governments operate, but has and will impact how people vote.
"I call it the law of diminishing votes," he said. "When things are good, people are happy. When the economy is bad, everyone is upset and looking for someone to blame. They blame the City Council and hate the city manager. What else is new? People suddenly want change because they just want someone to make things better."
Although Holvik doesn't agree change is the answer, he said he understands the emotions behind it.
What he doesn't see as productive is the negative campaign strategy or "mudslinging," which has somehow become the norm in almost all political venues.
"It shouldn't happen here," he said, frustrated at recent attacks on incumbents running for reelection, as well as city staff and seated council members. "Not in Willows."
But instead of taking similar tactics, Holvik said he's going to stand on his own merits, as he has done in the past, and maintains that tough decisions in tough economic times are financial — not personal.
And while he doesn't see an upswing in the economy for several more years, Holvik does see Willows being able to prepare for a future when upswing occurs.
The City Council has received a grant that will allow the addition of another police officer, more recreation opportunities — not less — have been made available for children and a 49-unit housing project for senior citizens has a good chance of being under construction within the next few years, he said.
Even outside local government control, Willows has opportunities that will do well for its citizens in the future, he said.
Holvik wants Willows to become the home to a Rice Festival, similar to Stockton's Asparagus Festival, and hopes a local organization will take on the project.
He also thinks Glenn Medical Center and the county's effort to move forward to build a new hospital will be a tremendous benefit to the city.
Finally, he said, voters this year have a wonderful opportunity to invest in their schools through Measure P, which he supports.
"There are certain things a city has to have in place before businesses will consider coming here," Holvik said. "They look at schools and whether the town has a good hospital. These things may cost people a little more money, but they are good investments for the future."