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Election 2018: Hollister Mayoral Race

Two-time incumbent Mayor Ignacio Velazquez, former mayor Gordon Machado and consistent challenger Keith Snow vie for mayoral seat in November.
Ignacio Velazquez wants to continue to be the mayor in order to keep focusing on finances and planning. Photo provided.
Ignacio Velazquez wants to continue to be the mayor in order to keep focusing on finances and planning. Photo provided.

Three candidates are running for Hollister Mayor on Nov. 6: Ignacio Velazquez (incumbent), Gordon Machado and Keith Snow. BenitoLink asked each candidate the same questions by email. Snow and Velazquez responded to the questions and Machado responded with a written statement.


Ignacio Velazquez has lived in Hollister since 1993 and has served as mayor for the past six years. He is married and has two children. He is the owner of The Vault, which he rents out for private parties, weddings and special events. He has also been a private electrical contractor for 30 years. His favorite activity is being with his kids and taking summer road trips across the country.

BENITOLINK: Why are you running for mayor?

VELAZQUEZ: I’m running for mayor again because I feel it is very important that we don’t return to the old ways of running our city. Before I became mayor the city was in deep financial trouble and had a very poor understanding of customer service. Today, we are in a much better financial situation, but it is very important to me that we stay focused as a city on our finances, planning for the future and providing a better quality of life for our residents.

What issues are most important for the city?

The No. 1 issue for me, which I have been very vocal about, is getting control of our growth, traffic and repairing our infrastructure. I refuse to make the same mistakes that were made in the past. We need to listen to the community rather than just believing what developers and those with special interest tell us.

Are there issues you feel are important to the city that the public may not know about?

Yes, continuing to pay down old debt and putting policies in place that will keep the same financial mistakes from happening again in the future. There is a limited amount of dollars available and we need to make sure we spend every dollar wisely.

What obstacles and challenges does the city face?

The biggest obstacle our community faces is aggressive dumb growth. History has shown us that by not implementing smart planning strategies along with the right fee structures we will end up carrying the financial burden of poorly planned neighborhoods for years into the future.

How do you plan to address them?

I believe that the council needs to step back and stop approving projects until we have a clear understanding of what we want to become as a community. I will continue to push an agenda that makes sure that projects will pay for themselves from the first day and into the future. With a supportive council, I would also limit the number of residential units being built and focus on infrastructure along with quality of life projects for our community.

How do you intend to communicate and stay in touch with the constituents you represent?

I've been communicating with the public through social media with my monthly Mayor Town Hall meetings on Facebook and also answering questions as they arise on social media.

What is the role of local government?

The most important role for local government is to provide a community that functions properly. Residents should feel proud and also feel secure in their community. Government should never be a burden to the public.

Keith Snow has lived in Hollister for seven years. He owned his own construction company when he was 18 and is now a retired civil engineer. He collects books ranging from novels to biographies. He said he is experienced in network marketing, connecting with people, being a mentor to the younger generation, working as a team player and solving issues effectively and immediately.

BENITOLINK: Why are you running for mayor?

SNOW: I want to make a difference for the good of the city and county.

What issues are most important for the city?

I am in district 4 and we have a big issue with our sidewalks, public safety, lots of crime in our area, and speeding down Sunnyslope.

Are there issues you feel are important to the city that the public may not know about?

San Benito County Water District owns Sunnyslope County Water District and the West Hills Water Treatment Plant. We are paying for it and we do not own it.

What obstacles and challenges does the city face?

Too many unfinished projects.

How do you plan to address them?

By being a self-sufficient city and community. Getting organized. Prioritize the projects and not start new ones until the existing ones are completed.

How do you intend to communicate and stay in touch with the constituents you represent?

Communication, honesty and loyalty is key. I would make sure everyone is on the same page, sending out newsletters, emails, providing knowledgeable workshops and providing tools, info, keeping everyone up to date. Not leaving anything in the dark. All issues would be addressed, and the community would always have a say and opinion in everything we do.

What is the role of local government?

To maintain a properly well-functioning city, county, a community with proper well being for all. Affordable for all, public safety, providing a safe and orderly place for all people to live.

Gordon Machado’s written statement:

We are back to where we were 20 to 30 years. The need for new roads and road improvements. Growth balanced with the services (water, sewer, roads, etc.). Also the need for local industry for employment (wage improvement and reduce the commute). The City of Hollister is incorporated to provide its citizens with all the amenities to create a Community—Streets, Water, Sewer, Parks, Police, Fire, Planning etc. and in cooperation with other agencies providing Schools, Libraries, Healthcare etc. The Mayor and City Council person is the legislative and policy making body and determines City budget, appointments and general oversight. They are elected by the people and responsive to the people.   


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John Chadwell (John Chadwell)

John Chadwell is an investigative reporter for BenitoLink. He has many years experience as a freelance photojournalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer who has worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and underwent graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John has worked as a script doctor and his own script, God's Club, was released as a motion picture in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime that are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to:


"I believe that the council needs to step back and stop approving projects until we have a clear understanding of what we want to become as a community."  The City of Hollister General Plan. It's already been decided. That's what Hollister wants to become.  The plan is in effect now, guiding all Hollister's public decisions.

The mayor knows this. If he has given serious thought to how Hollister needs to change, he should point out ways that the General Plan should change. And he should take action, maybe through a ballot measure. Obviously he has experience in this -- he can present his ideas, if he has any, in a package of General Plan changes for the voters to consider (yes, the Attorney General will allow this). So far I don't see him interested in doing such a thing, instead focusing his political capital on property neighboring his very own with a non-starting referendum rather than using the ballot process for broader community concerns and public good.

If the mayor were serious on "smart planning strategies" that are more thoughtful than "stop approving projects" -- no planning needed, how easy -- he'd hurry up and put his desired General Plan changes in front of the public. For now, no sign of that coming.

P.S. I speak for myself alone as a community resident.

Michael, with my recent appointment to District 1, I will strive to educate our residents on the structure of our General Plan; what I frequently refer to as the “City’s Mother Document”.   Having been on the front lines of local planning for many years I cannot tell you how many times I have encouraged people to get involved in the general plan process as well as zoning ordinance amendments AND to pay attention to prezonings.  I know there are many educated people in our community and I am counting on them to get involved; unselfishly.  It’s really all in their hands. IMO planning can be done responsibly with a good balance in all aspects of development; private and public. This city has been practicing smart growth for some time now and has come along way since the old days of R-1/6000 sq.ft. lots. The overlay and mixed use zoning are gaining ground and producing a better product. Thank you Michael for your experienced comments.  Please get involved in our next GP update. 

Thank you, Council Member Lenior. I look forward to seeing more actual "smart growth" practices along the lines of the long-standing definition by the American Planning Association rather than some random person's individual preferences passed off as "smart growth" just because the appropriated term sounded good.

Your ideas of actually planning our future make perfect sense.  Let's hope tha once the "silly season" is over they come to fruition.  The danger is that once the seeds of radical simplistic ideas get planted, they often kill any other option.

Marty Richman 

Submitted by Ken Dunn (kenneth) on

I support Ignacio Velasquez, he makes the most sense.

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