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Wanted: Community leaders

POSTED July 30, 2010 10:47 p.m.
Walt Whitman once said, “A great city is that which has the greatest men and women.” Fortunately, Turlock has had the support of great men, women and most importantly leaders who have guided and shaped the city from a railroad stop into a city of almost 70,000 citizens.Since its incorporation in 1908, 20 men have held the position of Mayor of Turlock. Those men were instrumental in positioning Turlock to be a leader in the state and home to such successes as the Turlock Irrigation District and California State University, Stanislaus.Turlockers have honored their past mayors with eponymous parks, streets and rest areas. There are turkey lovers across the country who have fond memories of  Turlock because of former mayor Enoch Christoffersen and his famous Thanksgiving gobble impression, which was annually broadcast on radio stations near and far.In short, being the mayor of Turlock is a pretty sweet gig. I know current Mayor John Lazar has had his fair share of free pies, fudge and other tasty treats as part of his official duties as the city’s top leader.With Turlock’s history of treating mayors as local celebrities, it makes me wonder why the candidate pool is almost dry, with the deadline to submit an application for the Nov. 2 election fast approaching. As of Friday, Lazar will be running unopposed. While many may say that it is a tribute to Lazar’s leadership that no one wants to run against him, I believe without choices we are shorting ourselves of the full extent of democracy. Without an electoral race, the citizens of Turlock may not get to hear the issues of the day debated.I know that with the current economic outlook and the debacle which is the state Legislature, making decisions on cutting public services and possibly laying off hard-working city employees is not a pleasant undertaking. However, someone has to do it and we owe it to our fair city to find the right person for the job, or reassure ourselves that the right person is doing the job.I know a number of local businessmen and women, leaders in education and philanthropy — and even a few lawyers — who have the passion and expertise to lead Turlock into the future. If these people got together and hashed out the city’s top issues — the budget, Redevelopment Agency funding, economic development and public safety, to name a few — the resulting debate could bring a new dimension to the discourse in future council decisions.If you are reading this and know you are one of those people who have the knowledge, passion and temperament to lead the city, then get down to City Hall before Friday and take out an application for mayor.If you are woman, all the better. It’s about time the all boys club of Turlock mayors adds an extra X chromosome to the mix.— Alex Cantatore contributed to this article.To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.
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