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January 23, 2021

City of Soledad swears in first female mayor

Historic shifts take place in small town leadership, as Anna Velazquez takes over mayoral position from Fred Ledesma

SOLEDAD — Seats shifted during Soledad City Council’s Dec. 2 meeting, in which outgoing Mayor Fred Ledesma called the meeting to order one last time while Anna Velazquez was sworn in as the city’s first female mayor. 

Ledesma took a moment to reflect on his many years with the city council and said he was most proud of Fiesta Days, the new Hartnell campus and the incoming Metz/Orchard Park.

“I think at the end of your life when it’s time for you to check out, you just kind of look and say, that was pretty damned good,” Ledesma said. “I would encourage the council to keep going forward.”

Congressman Jimmy Panetta called in from Washington, D.C., to say farewell to Ledesma before he left the council.

“The least I could do was pop in here, hear you say a few last swear words on the dais, and say thank you for living up to what it means to live in Soledad,” Panetta said. “You truly understand that obligation that everybody in that room has to give back to the community that has given all of us and our families so much.”

Velazquez was a city councilmember before running for the mayor’s seat, successfully winning against Ledesma in the Nov. 3 election.

“I want to say thank you for my family,” Velazquez said immediately after the swearing-in ceremony. “They had a lot of patience and flexibility with me during this time and also during the council. I want to say thank you to the community for trusting me and electing me to this position and I’m very humbled and honored to be part of it.”

Velazquez recognized her being the first female mayor of Soledad.

“I think that’s a big part of our history, but I also recognize that we have to do more to really reduce the barriers that limit women in this space, especially in politics,” Velazquez said. “I’m committed to moving that forward. I’m really looking forward also to working with the new elected councilmembers and the current councilmembers. You guys have dedicated so much of your time and energy to Soledad.”

The city also swore in Ben Jimenez Jr. as a new councilmember, taking over the seat previously held by Velazquez. Carla Strobridge was also re-elected to the council, joining current members Marisela Lara and Mayor Pro Tem Alejandro Chavez.

According to Velazquez, her goal is to lead together with the council to move the city forward in the best interest of the community.

“As Mayor Ledesma has mentioned, one of the things we all have in common is a love for Soledad, and that’s the reason why we serve in public,” Velazquez said. “I look forward to great things to come and working with everyone collectively.”

Sean Roney
Sean Roney
Sean Roney is the reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers education, government and general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.

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