Ignacio Velazquez

Ignacio Velazquez, who is headed toward victory in the first race for Hollister mayor, remained cautious about declaring victory Tuesday night but said if elected he would focus on getting city and county officials to work together on solutions.

Velazquez maintained a nine-point lead after the elections office released early returns that included most mail-in ballots.

Velazquez, who owns two downtown businesses, had about 37 percent of the vote to around 28.3 percent for Councilman Doug Emerson. Marty Richman had 18.9 percent, and Keith Snow had 15.6 percent, according to preliminary results.

Velazquez would be the first Hollister resident elected as mayor by the entire city. Previously, the five council members rotated in the role from year to year.

“I think people were just ready for a change,” Velazquez said Tuesday night. “People just wanted to hear some positive things. They wanted to believe in a vision. They wanted to move forward.”

Velazquez had campaigned on commitments to rid the city of wasteful spending and spur economic development efforts. If elected, he said he would stick with a plan to spend a portion of the expected $3.2 million in annual revenue from the Measure E sales tax extension on economic development and reserves.

Unlike the lacking oversight of Measure T, the precursor to Measure E, Velazquez said he would establish an oversight committee for Measure E with a say on how the money gets spent. The Measure T oversight committee met just twice in more than four years after voters approved the tax.

“I’m going to make sure that happens so people know what we’re doing,” he said.

He said he would stay with a plan of looking for ways to cut spending for a city counting on that Measure E sales tax to balance its $14 million general fund budget.

“We need to be more realistic in the way we’re spending money,” he said.

Look back for more, including additional reaction. For the latest updates on election results, go here.

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