Holvik gives farewell
After nearly a quarter century of service, outgoing Willows Mayor Vince Holvik's farewell to public office is bittersweet.
Holvik, 65, left the dais quietly Tuesday, as did Councilman Jim Yoder, who opted out of the political bloodbath of the Nov. 6 election.
Councilman Gary Hansen, who was also voted out, was absent, but will finish out the year.
After soundly winning four previous elections, Holvik lost his position on the council after coming in sixth in a seven-candidate race for three open seats.
It seemed an ironic fate for someone who had to certify those results as his last order of business.
He had garnered only 460 of the 1,909 votes cast, far below the man who — in the end — became his political foe.
Willows police Chief Bill Spears, who the City Council is ousting from his job at the end of the year, picked up more votes than any other candidate.
Reflecting Wednesday on his long and mostly successful political career, Holvik admitted that his bringing about the sudden end of Spears' employment was likely his undoing.
But it was a decision Holvik does not regret.
"The City Council set certain goals and all of those goals were met," said Holvik, in a final press conference as outgoing mayor. "I may have went out with a bang, but at least I went out with the city in fairly decent financial shape."
Faced with another $200,000 budget deficit this year, Holvik said Spears' non-renewal was a sound financial decision for the city, until the economy shows some kind of recovery.
The City Council had decided in February that they had to build back — not dip into — reserves, as they had done for the past several years to cover deficit spending.
Just about everything but jobs had already been cut, he said.
Spears, however, made his non-renewal personal and fought back viciously in a negative election campaign, reaching the voters with unfounded accusations against city officials and staff.
"They drank the Kool-Aid," Holvik said, shaking his head sadly.
With the election over, Holvik said it will now be a predominately new City Council, which also includes Spears, that will have to finish what Holvik started.
That includes finding an economic way to replace Spears, whose salary and benefits cost the taxpayers $156,000 a year.
Holvik, had he been reelected, said he would likely have suggested promoting from within the department or buying time with an interim part-time police chief, either of which would satisfy state law and help the city see precious savings as tough economic times continue.
Holvik had also thought he would see — to the end — a fair performance evaluation of City Manager Steve Holsinger, whom he said was unfairly drawn into conspiracy theories surrounding Spears' non-renewal, and the hard-fought effort by Spears and his supporters to sacrifice that position instead.
Holvik had even extended the review to include members of the public and city employees, but as of Wednesday, that performance evaluation was off the table and not likely to be addressed again until after the New Year.
"When I started the evaluation process, I didn't think there would be such a big turnover on the council," Holvik said. "I just thought about being fair to Steve. It had been well over a year since his last review."
Meanwhile, Holsinger said he will be ready when and if the City Council moves forward.
Holsinger is confident in his job performance, and met the goals the City Council set for him since his last review, he said Wednesday.
"If I'm fired, I'm fired," Holsinger said. "But like Vince said, I would rather be fired from a city that is fiscally solvent than a city that is broke."
Holsinger said he is also willing to accept a buyout of his contract, if the new City Council seeks to eliminate his position as a cost savings.
In the meantime, however, Holsinger said he plans to go about trying to mend fences, and hopes to initiate better communication between him and the Tea Party and Chamber of Commerce, whose members were pulled into a bitter election campaign.
Even Holvik agreed that more effort could have been made previously to keep communication lines open, but is pleased that Holsinger seems willing to take the first step.
As for Holvik disappearing from public view quietly, the longtime councilman said that would never happen.
"I'm not going anywhere," he said. "I plan to be at every City Council meeting."
After leaving the dais Tuesday, Holvik took his place as a member of the audience, where he heard the praise of community members thanking him for his service.
He will be recognized by the City Council at a later date.
As liaison to the Citizens for Senior Housing committee, Jana Adamson said Holvik's efforts were invaluable, and hoped that he would remain involved in that particular cause.
As of Wednesday, Holvik said he had not yet decided what causes he plans to take up.
"I'm going to pick and choose carefully what I want to be involved in," he said.