Velazquez on pace to return as Hollister’s mayor

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Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez, who is also the Council of San Benito County Governments chairperson, pushed hard to get the Highway 25 Expansion Project back in the hands of the public. (Juan Reyes)

Ignacio Velazquez was hanging out in front of the steps of City Hall in downtown Hollister on Tuesday evening, relishing the moment that he was once again re-elected for another mayoral term.

As of Nov. 3, the incumbent earned 58.1 percent of the vote, giving him a sizable lead of 6,878 to 4,933 votes over challenger Sal Mora. Velazquez said winning it a fifth time is just as sweet as the first when he was elected as mayor in 2012. 

“Every single time it feels great just because I love my town,” he said. “I love the people and our community. I want to get some good things done in our county.”

Velazquez, who is married with two children, has been a business owner for more than 30 years including The Vault Banquet Facilities in Downtown Hollister that he opened in 1998.  

Velazquez said the community wants to see a change in the pace of growth within the county, which was one of the focal points during his campaign. He was opposed to Measure N, also known as the Strada Verde project, that was rejected by the voters.

“I’ve been saying this and begging everybody to please listen to the community,” he said. “We’re going to fail the community if we keep on this path.”

It seems like a majority of voters in Hollister agree with Velazquez as they voted him in for a fifth term. He mentioned that the Measure N campaign spent more than a million dollars to try to convince the community it’s a good idea to build what he calls a “city along Highway 25.”

Velazquez talked about his experience during a “dirty campaign period” and still believes that his opponent, Sal Mora, purposely misled the public.

“My view has always been the same, if you want to debate, let’s debate, but let’s not make up these lies and have people attacking with smear campaigns,” he said. “That doesn’t help anybody.”

The first order of operation for him is trying to tackle the general plan, which includes having a strong budget and allocating the right dollars to the departments to work on projects such as new infrastructure.

Velazquez said 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.  

He previously mentioned that 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.  

“We need the plan to finish for our future,” he said. “We can’t just keep putting it on the shelf and say we’ll deal with it later.”

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