Mayor lays out his 2019 vision

Gilroy Chamber of Commerce CEO Mark Turner, left, with Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco.

In the first week of March, Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco laid out his vision for the city in his state of the city address. He gave his speech twice, the first time on March 7 at an event sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and again on March 9 to Gilroy residents at City Hall.

Thursday’s event was held at Old City Hall, with the county’s major political and business leaders in attendance. Supervisor, Mike Wasserman cheered on his former staffer from the front row, and Chamber President Mark Turner introduced his friend to the audience.

Velasco began his speech by talking about the success Gilroy has seen during his tenure. “Our median income is up to nearly $87,000,” said Velasco. “Our unemployment rate is 3 percent as of December. Most economists will tell you this is considered full employment.”

He focused on improvements within the last few year to infrastructure, economic development and city transparency. Velasco cited the First Street sewer and repaving project, the reduction in unreinforced masonry building downtown from 40 in 2012 to five as of last month, and the city’s use of online community engagement as points of success during his last two years as mayor.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are moving up and to the right!,” Velasco said to the crowd.

The mayor called out many members of the community during his speech, including army private Gaven Doyle and Captain Kiser, commander of the Monterey Bay Recruiting Company.

The crowd cheered as Velasco announced plans for a yearlong celebration in 2020 for Gilroy’s 150th birthday.

Velasco spoke about challenges the city faces, such as lack of downtown parking, public safety funding and state-mandated housing requirements. He promised to address the future problems with new plans and the help of the council.

“As long as I am mayor, I am going to continue to do all I can to provide the leadershipthat this community needs to be successful,” said Velasco. “Our city deserves nothing less.”

See more from the speech here.