Election 2024
music in the park san jose

The San Benito County District 5 Supervisor seat is in contention for the March 5 election in a race between incumbent Bea Gonzales and her challenger Ignacio Velazquez.

Velasquez has considerable political experience in the area, having served as Mayor of Hollister for 10 years from 2012-2022. He beat out a recall campaign in 2021, but lost in the 2022 mayor’s race to Mia Casey. Now, Velazquez turns his attention to the county supervisor role. He is a local small business owner and has for years been a staunch opponent of large-scale residential development.

The Free Lance sent a list of questions to both candidates regarding pressing issues in San Benito County. Gonzales did not submit responses after being contacted multiple times.

Read Velazquez’s responses below.

Why are you running for supervisor? 

I’m running for County Supervisor, because I believe we can be so much more than just tract houses for Silicon Valley. We live in a beautiful agricultural community that feeds the nation. We also have a national park in our backyard with views that very few communities have and we need to do our best to protect them for future generations. We have so much potential to bring in positive investments that doesn’t require us to pave over thousands of acres of farmland.

Ignacio Velasquez. Photo: Contributed

 What do you think will be the most pressing needs for San Benito County over the next four years, and how would you address these needs as a supervisor?

The county roads have to be repaired immediately and should be our highest priority! Our county roads are failing and have become extremely dangerous for our residents. The answer is to focus on our roads and infrastructure instead of trying to build thousands of additional houses. As a county supervisor, I would immediately shift the focus of the supervisors to not only focus on repairing our roads, but also finding permanent funding to properly maintain them in the future.

What are your thoughts on how the county should address the increasing demand for residential and commercial growth here? Any ideas on how to keep public services adequate to accommodate all the new growth? 

Residential growth is out of control and will destroy our community if it continues at this pace. Developers have been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to fool our community into believing that we have no choice, but to build more houses. The truth is, that we do have a choice and we need to stop letting developers take advantage of our community. Developers should no longer be able to control the decision making process of the county.

What is your position on the future of Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital? Do you think there is more that the county could do to attract more healthcare services—and more sustainable healthcare services—as the community grows?

Yes, the county should be much more involved in what is happening with our local hospital. It is unbelievable that the hospital was asking for a $10 million bailout from the county, while at the same time knowing they were planning on filing bankruptcy. The hospital needs to regain the trust of the community and should never have allowed a pay raise of $450,000 for their director. If we really want to save the hospital, the first step is transparency!

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  1. Mon Ami, I think that SBC is lucky to have candidates of integrity and open-mindedness that serve taxpayers well. Of all our burdens, gas taxes diverted to fund insolvent public sector transit is one of the most oppressive, especially for seniors on fixed incomes. We ought to reform our transport funding so that motorists aren’t required to pay almost all the cost of public sector transit.
    We have the Supermassive Black Hole barreling down on us, with an estimated $1B annual operating loss. On top of a $70+B State Budget shortfall, how can taxpayers, already crucified paying for bloated, berserk government in California, be expected to pick up the tab for that monstrosity, too?
    If the Candidates’ Suggestion Box is open, I urge you to consider the double standard in transport funding that unelected SBCCOG imposes: (1) Motorists pay 102% of the cost of their transport, including highway construction and maintenance; and (2) transit systems’ riders pay only about 1% of the fully amortized cost of their transport. Gas taxes are diverted from the self-sufficient motorists to the subsidy dependent transit riders.
    Why the double standard? Is it to reward the special vested interests who feast off the taxpayers at the transit agencies, Amtrak, Caltrain, ACE Train, Metroliner, SMART Train, BART, Lite Rail, County Transit in all Counties? Supermassive Black Hole Bullet Train?
    At the very least we ought to have truth-in-transportation, and the transit agencies ought to be required to use GAAP accounting rules, which the rest of us are required to use by the IRS & FTB regs.
    The unelected COG Directors cover-up the true extent of their insolvency by using Enron-style, Bernie Madoff-style, “off-book” accounting, where capital and fixed costs are omitted from their financial reports.
    If one of my clients did that, then he’d be prosecuted for False Advertising, Unfair Business Practices Act, RICO, etc. Fares ought to cover costs, and motorists not required to pay higher gas taxes to fund bankrupt boondoggles.
    We ought to give the correct answer to the late Secretary Mineta’s “crucial question:” He said, “The crucial question in transportation today is: What should government do, and what should it leave to others?”
    May he rest in peace. He was right then, and he’s still right today. Why don’t we see candidates willing to take sides with taxpayers against the special vested interests who feast off the taxpayers at the transit agencies?
    The current transport policy in SBC is unsound, unsustainable, and unfair to motorists and taxpayers. SBCBOS should stop abdicating its mandate from the voters to unelected COG Directors.
    Caveat viator.
    Joe Thompson
    (408) 848-5506 E-Mail: [email protected]
    Charter Member, SBCCOG Citizens Transit Task Force; and SBCCOG Citizens Rail Advisory Committee; Past Chair, Legislation Committee, Transportation Lawyers Assn.

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