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Local legislators part of Valley Voice advocacy trip to D.C.

POSTED September 5, 2017 9:08 p.m.

Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth and Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors Chair Vito Chiesa will join advocates from all eight San Joaquin Valley counties this week on a “Valley Voice” advocacy trip to Washington D.C.

The delegation is known as the San Joaquin Valley Regional Planning Agencies Policy Council and represents the boards of each metropolitan planning organizations and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. The “Valley Voice” delegation will advocate for major transportation initiatives for the San Joaquin Valley, including federal funding for major highway projects, changes to the federal Clean Air Act, legislative amendments to regional transportation plans and aviation fuel sales tax collection processes, among other advocacy positions.

"As Vice Chair of the Stanislaus Council of Governments and also as Mayor, I'm looking forward to sitting down with legislators and regulators to educate them about our region's transportation needs," said Soiseth. "While our team will be advocating on behalf of the entire Central Valley, we will also be exploring potential federal funding for key corridors that impact drivers in Stanislaus County."

Valley Voice 2017 will include meetings with the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Congressmen Jim Costa, Jeff Denham, Tom McClintock, Jerry McNerney, Devin Nunes, David Valadao, the Department of Transportation and the US Department of Agriculture.

“Our highways and interstates are vital to the economic growth and prosperity of the San Joaquin Valley. Our region has 31,000 road miles, more than the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento region combined,” said City of Woodlake Mayor and Chair of the Regional Policy Council, Rudy Mendoza. “The success of one Valley county lends to the success of another. Our ability to work together sends a strong message about our regional collaboration and the importance we place collectively on transportation, economic development and air quality.”

While in Washington, Soiseth will also get the chance to work with Congressman Denham's staff on potential solutions to commercial public safety vehicles that prove to be “lemon vehicles.”

Soiseth is advocating for a Commercial Vehicle Lemon Law, following the City of Turlock’s problems with a faulty 2008 Pierce Arrow XT fire engine, purchased for $486,000 in 2007. Immediately into service, the engine began to fail requiring repair and maintenance above what was expected of a new apparatus. This repair and maintenance resulted in 60-70 days out of service in the first year of ownership and a total of 357 days out of service from 2009 through 2016.

The manufacturer refused to take responsibility for the faulty engine and the City eventually authorized the sale of the engine for a trade in value of $125,000 which was applied towards a replacement engine.

“While not popular among fire engine manufacturers, protections should be in place to protect cities like Turlock from needlessly spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on repairs to public safety vehicles. This will be a long-term effort that I hope will prevent future issues with public safety vehicles in other cities and counties throughout the country," said Soiseth.

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