Julio Rodriguez has returned to school to earn a degree in urban planning, something he knows will serve him well should he get elected to the Hollister City Council District 4 seat.
“I’m inspired by actually getting exposed to new ideas from experts who talk about city growth, because clearly what we have in Hollister is not working,” he said. “I think it’s time for a candidate with new ideas, a candidate who isn’t afraid to go out and educate himself and try to bring new ideas to Hollister.”
Should the 25-year-old Rodriguez get elected, he’s determined to stop approving single-family style home residential growth and start an economic revival. His focus centers on the 1,500 acres of industrial land near the Hollister Airport, and his model is a city just 25 miles to the north.
“I’m going to look at cities that are successful, one being Morgan Hill,” he said. “You look at what they did and how they put together a great marketing campaign and said, ‘Hey, look at what we have.’ I’d like for Hollister to follow in Morgan Hill’s footsteps. Good marketing would allow us to capitalize on the many wonderful things for visitors to do here in Hollister and San Benito County.”
Rodriguez, who has lived in Hollister since he was 2, has seen many areas turn into single-family home developments.
“I don’t have an issue with growth, but I do have an issue when growth comes at the expense of residents,” he said. “And that’s what we’re seeing: increased commute times, less time with family, higher property taxes in the form of bonds to offset costs. I think all this goes back to many developer-approved projects from years ago, and the lack of foresight from our city leaders of the true cost development would have on our community. It really seems like people who have been elected in the past weren’t listening to their constituents.”
A special education paraprofessional at Hollister Prep School, Rodriguez remains skeptical about the Strada Verde (Measure N) project, citing increased traffic concerns. Even though proponents of the measure say the project’s job center connects directly to 101—which would minimize traffic on Highway 25—Rodriguez doesn’t quite buy it.
In addition, Rodriguez said the $18 million in private funds that would go toward transportation improvements is “chump change considering San Benito County is putting in $300 million and Santa Clara County is putting in $400 million for the overpass to improve Highway 25.”