The 2020 mayoral field in Hollister already has two candidates: current Mayor Ignacio Velazquez and first-term District 3 council member Honor Spencer.
Spencer announced at the Aug. 5 city council meeting that she would be running for mayor in March 2020, and Velazquez confirmed that he would be running for a fifth term.
She told the Free Lance she came to her decision gradually, after beginning her term on the council in January 2019. Spencer and Velazquez have frequently voted differently on matters that have come before the council. The two disagree most on issues surrounding growth.
Velazquez, 54, has been a fierce opponent of the commercial development of the 400 block of San Benito Street by the Community Foundation of San Benito County and the Del Curto Brothers development firm. Spencer has voted in favor of moving the project forward.
Now she is set to make increasing the number of multi-family residences in Hollister a cornerstone of her campaign.
“We do need to start developing, and not single-family homes,” Spencer told the Free Lance this week. “When something like that does come in front of us, the mayor votes it down.”
When asked if he would be running for mayor again, Velazquez told the Free Lance, “I’m not going to let the developers take over, I can tell you that.”
Spencer said there is no place for younger members of the Hollister community to begin their lives in the city. Spencer is 59 years old and has worked as a campus supervisor, assisting with campus security at San Benito High School for over 20 years. She said the students she has worked with should be able to live in their hometown after graduation.
Spencer was quick to say she has no problem with Velazquez, but believes it’s time for a change in leadership. She said she wanted to announce her candidacy early so that voters “know there’s somebody else running for mayor that they can stand behind.”
Her campaign will focus on growing the city in a “smart way,” she said, adding that she believes growth and improving infrastructure could go hand in hand. Velazquez has repeatedly said he believes the city should cut back on growth until its infrastructure needs are met.
“We can maintain our small town values, but we can still grow,” Spencer said.
Velazquez and Spencer have clashed on a council that has become known for having a 3-2 vote, with the mayor and council member Rolan Resendiz on one side and council members Carol Lenoir, Marty Richman and Spencer on the other.
Velazquez won his first mayoral race in 2012, he’s serving his fourth term. He was the first city-wide elected mayor. In the 2018 election, Velazquez won his seat with 53 percent of the vote against two opponents.
Richman announced at the same meeting on Aug. 9 that he would not be seeking re-election. His term will be up in 2020, while Spencer’s term is set to end in 2022.
A version of this article that appears in the Aug. 16 edition of the Free Lance incorrectly listed the percentage of votes Mayor Ignacio a Velazquez won by in 2018. The correct number appears here.