Government / Politics

Hollister mayoral candidates share thoughts on local needs

Challenger Keith Snow and incumbent Ignacio Velazquez respond to BenitoLink Q&A.

Editors' note: This in the first of a series of candidate questionnaires for select, local races in the upcoming November general election. In addition to the Hollister mayoral race, we will share the responses of candidates from the San Benito County Board of Supervisors District 4, San Juan Bautista City Council, and Hollister City Council District 2 and 3.

On November 4, Hollister residents will cast their votes in the race for mayor. The candidates this year include incumbent Igancio Velazquez and Keith Snow, who finished fourth behind Velazquez in the 2012 election. The two candidates answered questions for BenitoLink on top issues facing the city, emergency preparedness and economic development, among other topics.

Name: Keith Snow 

Age: 49

Political Experience: I have been involved in politics since my childhood. I met with Tom Serna, who is my mentor. He was a councilman, then became mayor of Sacramento, where I was raised. I met with a lot of other public servants in my life. I have been going to city council meetings for many years when I lived in Los Banos, where I ran for mayor, and also here in Hollister.

1.) Tell us about yourself and why you are running for office.

I am running for mayor to end political corruption and dishonesty in the city of Hollister. 

2.) What would you say are the top three issues facing Hollister in the next five years?

1. Raised water prices/assessment tax meaning they can raise taxes at anytime they want.

2. Negative budget: if elected I will make sure the budget is balanced and under budget

3. Lack of jobs. I will bring job creation to the city of Hollister. 

3.) Water is a pressing issue as drought continues in California. What measures would you support for conserving water in Hollister for municipalities, business owners and residents?

I would do a water conservation packet to all the people/business and residents. Part of my ideas and platform has a lot to do with saving water and money. 

4.) A 6.0 earthquake hit near Napa recently. What ideas do you have to support emergency preparedness in San Benito County for potential disasters?

I would start doing drills as of right now to prepare the people and I will start an emergency fund for the city and people. I would send out packets to the community to make sure they are aware and know exactly what to do if a disaster strikes. Also I would definitely prepare the schools and have a "safe house" designation for the people.

5.) Do you support the proposed River Parkway and Regional Park in San Benito County that would connect San Juan to Tres Pinos with trails? If so, how would you provide support to move the project forward during your term in office? If not, explain why?

I do agree, it would be a great thing for the community, something I am sure the people would enjoy, and also help people to get into fitness. My only concern would be how much is it going to cost and is there any way to minimize the cost while doing an excellent job and creating jobs within our city for people. 

6.) What role should the city of Hollister play in the Hollister Motorcycle Rally as it moves forward?

 I am for the Hollister Biker Run. I have been going for years, even when I did not live here. But the point is we are cheating ourselves out of revenue. We spend too much on the run. We are having all other businesses do our jobs for us. If elected I would hire local businesses and people to do a lot of the work, and have sponsors and have volunteers. That is money that will be saved and placed to the city fund. Especially have San Bentio County Chamber to promote it and the City of Hollister. 

7.) What should the mayor’s role be in bringing new business and economic opportunities to Hollister?

As mayor, job creation is one of the top priorities on my list. Waive impact fees, work with the businesses and let them know they would be secure to bring their business to our city. I would have all open and honest policies. Create special events other than the hollister bike run. I would bring in long term ideas to create long term revenue to help stabilize and boost our economy while protecting our city fund. 

 

Name: Ignacio Velazquez                  

Age: 49

Political Experience: Mayor, incumbent

1.) Tell us about yourself and why you are running for office. 

I have lived in Hollister for the past 20 years and have been active in our local community as a business owner and father. I ran for mayor in 2012 because over the years I witnessed many mistakes by local government that had created issues that affected our local economy and the quality of life for our residents. As mayor, I’ve been focused on balancing the city’s budget so that we can begin investing in our infrastructure and in quality of life projects in the near future. 

2.) What would you say are the top three issues facing Hollister in the next five years? 

The top issue that the city faces is balancing the budget. The other two top issues are investing in our infrastructure and the promotion of our community to bring in more businesses and tourism. 

3.) Water is a pressing issue as drought continues in California. What measures would you support for conserving water in Hollister for municipalities, business owners and residents? 

San Benito County and the city of Hollister have been fortunate in this area because of past investments in our local water distribution system, which has kept our community from experiencing severe drought conditions.  The collaboration of our local water districts has led to the approval of a new treatment plant and a rate structure that will discourage wasteful water usage. Soon, we will also be introducing ordinances that will allow the use of gray water for lawns.  

4.) A 6.0 earthquake hit near Napa recently. What ideas do you have to support emergency preparedness in San Benito County for potential disasters? 

Our newly consolidated fire department, which joins efforts of  the City of Hollister, San Benito County and San Juan Bautista, was in large part due to the realization of the need to be prepared county wide in case of a large natural disaster. The partnership between fire departments has been an overwhelming success and has enabled us to double the number of emergency responders. We will also be introducing a program that will establish neighborhood captains who will be trained to help their fellow neighbors in case of an emergency.

5.) Do you support the proposed River Parkway and Regional Park in San Benito County that would connect San Juan to Tres Pinos with trails? If so, how would you provide support to move the project forward during your term in office? If not, explain why?

 I believe quality of life projects, such as the River Parkway project, are very important for the enjoyment of our community, and also are a draw for tourism. I would someday like to see the River Parkway trail extend from the Pinnacles National Park to Watsonville. I believe that we can accomplish projects like these through partnerships with multiple government agencies.  

6.) What role should the city of Hollister play in the Hollister Motorcycle Rally as it moves forward? 

I believe that the City of Hollister’s role in the motorcycle rally is to provide the framework that allows local nonprofit groups to work together to organize and benefit financially from the event.  By working through local nonprofits, the community will experience a much larger financial gain, which will lead to more events throughout the year.  

7.) What should the mayor’s role be in bringing new business and economic opportunities to Hollister? 

The mayor’s role begins with working with the other council members in creating a vision and a plan that is consistent and welcoming to new businesses.  Recently, the council approved a plan that will encourage hotels to be built in the City of Hollister. The council also approved funding to promote tourism to Hollister, which shows our commitment to the tourism industry.

 

Melissa Anderson

Melissa (Flores) Anderson is the former city editor of the Weekend Pinnacle and Hollister Free Lance, where she covered education, county government and more. She currently works for the College of Applied Sciences and Arts at San Jose State University, where she manages the College blog, newsletter and website updates. She has a master's in print journalism from the University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism.