Election 2016: Mayor faces rival on another ballot

City Hall

Incumbent Ignacio Velazquez and challenger Keith Snow answered questions from the Free Lance before November’s vote in their race for Hollister mayor. This is the third consecutive time Snow has challenged Velazquez for the two-year term.

The following are questions and answers in interviews with the two candidates:

Velazquez
Free Lance: What should be done to bring more local jobs to the area?
Velazquez: The issue with the jobs comes down to the infrastructure and a focus on what type of industries we’re trying to bring here, because without an understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish, we’re not gonna get there. The idea is luring tech, which is not that easy because, obviously, ground zero is Silicon Valley. So there’s a lot of, what’s happened is a lot of ag tech is happening. We just need to be focused on how we’re gonna bring them, how we’re gonna be able to provide them the infrastructure they need.

Where do you stand on the Measure W sales tax extension and how would you prioritize the money?

The sales tax is, is important that we keep going the direction we’ve been going in. The last four years we’ve proven that if we invest that money wisely and pay down debt, we can start the improvements, the infrastructure improvements, and that’s where we’ve gotten over the last four years, because when I came in, we were in trouble all the way around. Now we’ve used that money. We’ve paid down some debt on some of the, what we call the side fund. That’s almost wiped out. That was a $10 million debt that we had that we’re paying 7 and 1/2 percent interest. We invested money into some of the other projects throughout the community to make it a better community, something we can all be proud of.

How do you think the city should prepare for the possibility that marijuana could be legal in the state of California come November?

That’s what we’re working on right now. I’ve actually, now I’m part of the ad hoc committee on this subject, so I’m meeting with people from both sides of this industry as far as those that are for it and those that are against it, working with people within the industry to understand what ways we can do this in a way that doesn’t have a negative effect on our community. Because you can’t just rush into these types of issues, because you’d make the same mistakes that a lot of communities have made in the past that are trying to right the wrongs that they did. The other part of that is how do you tax it correctly? Because without a vote of the people, there is no tax. A lot of people don’t understand that part of it. So what I’m doing right now is understanding from the industry, how do we make sure we can create regulations that will allow maybe a dispensary or two and some of the cultivators or manufacturers to come in, pay a fee or tax in the future the voters approve it, and accept the regulations we have to make sure we’re not compromising public safety, making sure they have the cameras or different things for law enforcement to keep on things and really shut them down if something goes wrong or if they’re not keeping up to the standards. So I’m looking at models that have been successful in San Jose and different areas.

What should be done to offer support to local homeless while the new Homelessness Services Center is being built?

Well that’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve been working, you know, another thing when I came on we had this issue right away. I started working with the county to create a partnership towards remedying it rather than ignoring it. It’s taking a while because it’s a complex issue, but by the county and city having this partnership and agreeing that we both have responsibilities for this rather than ignoring it, we made a lot of progress.

How should the city regulate residential water usage in times of drought?
This water issue, whether there’s a drought or there isn’t a drought, we addressed throughout the state. I think as some of the regulations were put in place by the state, water savings, I really do believe those should be permanent. And we shouldn’t be building new homes that have large yards and different things that consume a lot of water. We should be doing zero scape, incentivizing households to be doing the same thing that have existing lawns, because it’s an amazing thing that you see that, the new homes for example, will use half the water as the older homes.

The motorcycle rally has suffered from organizational and financial instability in the past. What can be done to improve it?

I’ve said this from the very beginning: The key to the rally is consistency. And when we start and stop and start and stop, we can’t build consistency. So that leads to problems with the groups that want to be involved. Originally we had a nonprofit group that was doing it, that was doing it very very well. When that stopped, it’s hard to create that same momentum through a nonprofit, so you have to work with promoters who are in there for profit. And for those promoters to take on the challenge, they need commitment from the community that it’s gonna be there for several years and I’d ask for us as a city to commit to 10 years to the rally, which it did, but unfortunately we’re going back and forth and it’s making it difficult for promoters to look at this rally as something as a long term rally, which is difficult for sponsors to invest in that rally.

Snow
Free Lance: What should be done to bring more local jobs to the area:
Keith Snow: Look at the ink; red ink. It’s getting bigger and bigger. We’re already $8 million in debt and we have a council that’s not on the same page, ’cause I’ve been to a lot of meetings before, right? … I’ve been to meetings in the past right? For city and county. … But the point is I don’t like what I see, and what you don’t see is how can we boost our economy when all the contracts they do?

Where do you stand on the Measure W sales tax 20-year extension and how would you prioritize the money?

Okay, sales tax right? Well for one I oppose the sales tax, Measure W. It’s another political scam again, just like Measure P. … I’m opposed to all sales tax. Measure U, I went to the meeting on the 14th, on my birthday. What went on there? But they didn’t talk the bond. … They do things that are driving our economy down the drain. Taxes are in their hand. So I oppose all taxes. I think it’s a scam.

How do you think the city should prepare for the possibility that marijuana could be legal in the state of California come November?

Well for one, read Friday’s paper, right? It talks about the marijuana thing right? There’s too much confusion. They hired consultants and LG law firm right? First they had the mayor and Councilman Ray Friend, when Ray Friend said his wife used marijuana ’cause she had cancer. … And the Measure thing, the fact is I put in the paper a while back years ago in 2012, 2014, about marijuana. It’s getting a for sale tax right? But the people handling the council, the city, was gonna open these things right? But not gonna open a marijuana thing in downtown area. You need an area that’s out of reach from the schools, from the kids. We don’t monitor nothing. They don’t monitor nothing. They’ll monitor nothing. They’ll look at nothing. It’s like a free for all.

What should be done to offer support to the local homeless while the new Homeless Services Center is being built?

Well for one, if you look at the homeless shelter, homelessness right? We have homeless right? The mayor kicked out all the homeless people from there, the park over there, you know where it’s at, right? We have to have a heart for the homeless and what they’re going through. We have a system in place right of all like I said before, to have a homeless space.
How should the city regulate residential water usage in times of drought?

The water usage, right? For example, I already have a plan of conservation of water. I have a plan, my plan, general plan, if you look on my website what you’re saying now, it’s all in place. With water right, we don’t regulate nothing. So the point is we have the highest water/sewage plan in the state of California, but all the pipes are break(ing).

The motorcycle rally has suffered from organizational and financial instability in the past. What can be done to improve it?

See our financial instability, we’re weak. … I got an idea for it to be family oriented right? So the point is look at this: They’re not gonna say, for example, they have security right for the rally, for public safety. I’m gonna make sure to go back to the table, see what they’ve been doing wrong and make it where this thing works. They waste so much money.

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