Several local speakers at Monday’s city council meeting pleaded with officials to reconsider their decision to cancel the 2018 Hollister Independence Rally and claimed there was enough support to form a nonprofit that could organize the motorcycle event.
After the public comment section when they spoke, Hollister City Manager Bill Avera and Police Chief David Westrick agreed to meet with rally supporters at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Hollister City Hall to talk about the issue.
Resident Lisa Bond called herself a “huge supporter” of the rally and asked to let the newly organized group take it over.
“In a few short weeks, there are many in our community that are ready to volunteer their time,” she said.
Residents like Bond were encouraged to request reconsideration on the matter from Mayor Ignacio Velazquez, a longtime rally proponent on the other side of the 3-2 vote to cancel it. The mayor has supported a concept like the Hollister Independence Rally Committee, made up of local volunteers, which organized the annual event from its inception in 1997 to 2006 when the city canceled the rally for the first of two times due to rising costs.
Velazquez on Monday before the meeting said he believes a key to making the rally work financially is closing off the event area and charging for entrance. Velazquez put out a request for help on social media and said there were close to 200 people willing to volunteer.
Council members Mickie Lune, Karson Klauer and Jim Gillio voted yes on the cancellation in early March. That happened when the promoter for the past two years, Roadshows, indicated it didn’t have necessary sponsor support to put it together this July.
Local resident Mark Scheer also spoke and indicated the group had the needed sponsors lined up. He said the rally run by a nonprofit could raise “hundreds of thousands of dollars” for local nonprofits.
“Our group can make our historic Hollister rally happen again this year,” he said.
Peter Lago noted how he moved here to be owner of Johnny’s Bar & Grill, one of the most popular destinations for rally goers. He said not organizing an event is like having a salmon run without trying to catch them.
“If we’re going to have people here, we might as well do something with that in the community,” Lago said.
Regular city speaker Marty Richman, though, offered another viewpoint and said the main issue is the city lacking proper insurance to cover a catastrophe.
“But we are betting this entire city on the fact that someone doesn’t misbehave in a big crowd,” he said.
It would be up to one of the three no votes to ask for reconsideration in order to get the item back before the full council.