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Mayoral race in P.G. heats up

- Incumbent doesn't like write-in challenge from retired veterinarian


Published: October 17, 2008

PACIFIC GROVE Mayor Dan Cort this week blasted a last-minute write-in campaign by a longtime city resident to run against him in the Nov. 4 election.

Ted Hollister, who has lived in Pacific Grove for 49 years, announced himself last week as a write-in candidate for mayor, which makes him Cort’s only competition.

“I’ve been overwhelmed with the response,” Hollister told The Pine Cone. “Honestly, it’s very humbling to see all the support.”

But Cort accused Hollister, 77, of not attending a city council meeting in years and questioned the former veterinarian’s motivation for seeking the job.

“We have serious problems facing this city, and if you haven’t been at a city council meeting in four or five years, then really you have no business inserting yourself into something as important as serving on the council,” Cort said.

Because Hollister missed the Aug. 8 deadline to declare his candidacy, his name will not appear on the Nov. 4 ballot and voters will be required to write in his name to cast their vote.

Hollister said he decided to run for mayor when the P.G. and Monterey city councils approved a consolidation of their fire departments earlier this month. He said he believed the the issue should have been discussed with more “transparency” and more public input.

“That was the point where I said, ‘That does it. I’m going to stop sitting around moaning and groaning, and do something about it,’” Hollister said.

A retired veterinarian, Hollister said he’s in favor of restoring assets to the fire department, library and museum, which have all been hit by budget cuts approved by Cort and the city council.

“I don’t want to go into anything too specific,” he said, “because I want to look into anything that will work.”

Hollister was chairman of the city’s affordable housing and Crespi Pond committees, and spent three years on the city’s golf advisory board.

“I would like to see a different feeling at city hall,” he said.

Hollister said he’s also in favor of putting more emphasis on the city’s recreation department, which lost its longtime director last year because of budget cuts.

“I would like to see it revitalized,” Hollister said. “Our natural assets are the youth, and we want to do everything we can to reach out to the youth.”

‘A different approach’

Though he said he has a lot of respect for Cort, Hollister said he believes “a different approach is needed.”

“I kind of have a feeling he hasn’t tilted enough toward the business community and solving our financial problems,” he said.

Cort, while in office, voted for cuts to help reduce the city’s $2.5 million deficit while preserving its core services. He supported taking over the golf course pro shop operations, which saved the city $300,000 in the first year. He also supported the city’s farmers’ market and the consolidation of Monterey and P.G. fire departments.

“I’ve got a pretty good track record, and the community has supported me in both elections,” Cort said.

Cort was also instrumental in obtaining a grant from the Packard Foundation to look into the efficacy of using an unused reservoir in the city to collect water and use it to irrigate the city’s golf courses and parks.

Surrogate candidate?

Cort said Hollister’s bid for mayor was prompted by members of the city’s “old guard,” including former Mayor Jeanne Byrne and former councilman Ron Schenk. He called Hollister their “surrogate candidate.”

“They are running a write-in candidate,” Cort said, “not because they think he is the best candidate, but because they are angry that they don’t have the willingness to themselves run.”

Schenk said he did not encourage Hollister to run for mayor and didn’t know of his intentions until he announced it. But Schenk said he is now helping Hollister with his campaign.

Byrne, who thought about running for mayor this year, said she is also backing Hollister.

“We all pulled behind him,” she said, “because we felt he represents a portion of the community that is upset over the direction of the city.”

Meanwhile, Hollister said he’s purchased 100 campaign signs, and supporters are asking for more.

“They are all gone,” he said. “People have asked for more and we are ordering more.”

Cort, who did not put up campaign signs, said he still doesn’t intend to purchase signs or do anything extra to step up his campaign in light of Hollister’s bid.

“For me, to go out and buy signs just to compete with Ted Hollister provides credibility where there should be none,” he said. “He should stand on his record.”

Ultimately, if voters don’t choose him to be mayor, Hollister said his campaign will have sent a message.

“I think that city government will get a very strong message why [people] aren’t happy with the way things have been going for several years,” he said.