Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez likes to plan his annual road trip across the country each year to visit national parks and historic sites, perhaps similar to those such as Hollister.
“I believe we have an incredibly beautiful city and county and I want to make sure we do as much as we can to protect it in a positive way,” he said.
Velazquez, who is running for his fourth term in the Nov. 3 election, said one way to “protect” the city is slow growth, which means approving thousands of new homes is not the answer for the future.
Instead, he wants to make sure that the “General Plan Update” reflects a better vision for the community rather than just representing more profits for developers.
Velazquez said the focus in local planning means having a better balance that includes more tourism, along with commercial projects. He believes this will help residents live and work in their own community rather than having to commute out of town for work.
“It’s time we celebrate and promote all the beautiful things that we have in our community such as Pinnacles National Park, wineries, Hollister Hills and many other places for tourists to visit,” he said.
Velazquez has a Master’s Degree in Business from Cal State Hayward and a Bachelor’s Degree in Global Studies from Cal State Monterey Bay. He’s been involved with many different local organizations in Hollister over the past 20 years, which includes president of the Hollister Downtown Association, the Center for the Arts and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Velazquez is married with two children, who both attend local schools. He’s been a business owner for more than 30 years including The Vault Banquet Facilities in Downtown Hollister, which he opened in 1998.
“Unfortunately, with the Covid-19 pandemic I have had to close the business until things get better and safer for our staff and customers,” he said.
Velazquez said traffic and infrastructure in the city have been the biggest issues that the community has been facing over the last several years because of rapid growth.
Velazquez, who is the Chair for the San Benito County Council of Governments, said they approved $241 million for the widening of Highway 25. He said that traffic on Highway 25 has been a major concern for residents.
“This is one of the largest projects in the history of San Benito County and it took several years to get the support needed by both elected officials and the public,” he said.
As for growth within the city, he believes that they need to be developing at a much slower pace that allows for the proper infrastructure to be built before any more expansion.
Velazquez said that with the support of the public they have a chance to finally change things and focus on infrastructure, implementing what he calls “Slower Smarter Growth” strategies.
“The answers for many of our issues are there but we need a vote by the majority of the council to start implementing them,” he said.