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In challenging times, voting matters

May 23, 2022
People standing at voting booths

During this month’s primaries and the November 2022 general election, voters will help determine Monterey County’s future. Choosing leaders who understand the local landscape matters more than ever, with major issues like water, affordable housing, transportation and budgets at stake.

"Here in Monterey County, the most important elections are local. The city councils, mayors and board of supervisors make significant decisions that impact parks, schools, traffic patterns, housing and other parts of your everyday life,” says Monterey Realtor Jeff Davi.

Today’s decisions can have a long-term impact, and they affect both citizens and businesses. This is especially true of Monterey County’s $2.5 billion hospitality industry. Second only to agriculture in terms of economic impact, tourism is the Monterey Peninsula’s leading industry and employed more than 21,600 individuals in 2021.

Electing candidates who understand tourism’s importance is key as businesses recover from pandemic slowdowns. For instance, a healthy hospitality industry means more local career opportunities and higher sales tax collections. Tourism also generates transient occupancy tax (TOT) revenues for local jurisdictions. TOT supports city services, infrastructure updates and neighborhood projects that directly benefit all residents.

“It’s a balancing act, and we’d like to keep that balance. Our elected officials have done a good job of having conversations about tax rates, regulations and potential legislation. Overall, you don’t want to do things that hurt this region’s economic engine,” Davi says.

Through its Government Affairs Committee, the Monterey County Hospitality Association (MCHA) advocates for the industry and takes part in conversations with elected leaders. MCHA also supports candidates who are committed to protecting and promoting tourism by participating in the Monterey County Business Political Action Committee. The committee’s board members interview candidates and endorse those who understand the issues that concern local businesses.

"During the pandemic, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors really impacted how businesses could operate. We had someone in district two, for example, who understood the challenges we faced,” says Big Sur River Inn General Manager Rick Aldinger, Chair of MCHA’s Government Affairs Committee. “With Supervisor Phillips now vacating that seat, we want to elect someone with similarly deep business and policy knowledge.”

The hospitality industry looks for leaders who will protect natural resources, prioritize responsible growth, improve infrastructure and support economic vitality.

“A strong tourism industry means that more than 21,000 Monterey County hospitality employees can pay their rent, buy their groceries and contribute to this community. Hospitality also supports a huge variety of restaurants, attractions and cultural opportunities that residents enjoy all year long,” says Aldinger. “MCHA endorses candidates who will help hospitality businesses operate efficiently and succeed. No matter how you vote this year, this is your chance to shape Monterey County’s future.”

MCHA officially endorses the following candidates in the upcoming election: Kimbley Craig, Supervisor District 2; Chris Lopez, Supervisor District 3; Joe Moses, Monterey County Sheriff; Jeannine Pacioni, District Attorney.

The Monterey County Hospitality Association (www.mcha.net) is the trade association serving the local tourism industry with advocacy, education and employee recognition programs. For information, visit www.mcha.net or contact Kristin Horton at kristin@mcha.net.

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