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Mayors Youth Conference brings together next generation of leaders
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Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth hosts the second annual Mayors Youth Conference for approximately 100 students on Thursday.

Students throughout Turlock converged at City Hall Thursday morning to find out just what it takes to be a leader from Mayor Gary Soiseth himself during the second annual Mayor’s Youth Conference.


“I’m just glad to expose all of our young people to City Hall and explain to them exactly how city government works,” said Soiseth. “I think all of our leaders are going to be in this group. I can see a future mayor, council members, firefighters and police officers here.”


The conference was attended by approximately 100 students from Turlock Junior High School, Dutcher Middle School, eCademy Charter at Crane, Pitman High School, Turlock High School, Turlock Christian High School, Roselawn Continuation High School and Sacred Heart School.


“Today is about looking at local government, it’s about looking at the things that affect your day-to-day lives,” Soiseth told students Thursday morning.


In addition to hearing from Soiseth, students heard presentations from City Manager Gary Hampton, Administrative Services Director Kellie Jacobs-Hunter, Assistant to the City Manager for Economic Development and Housing Maryn Pitt, Municipal Services Director Michael Cooke, Development Services Director Mike Pitcock, Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Department Director Allison Van Guilder and City Attorney Phaedra Norton.


“I envision one of you taking my job at some point in the future,” Norton told students. “I’ll have my career here at the City of Turlock that will come to an end and we want to see talented, successful individuals. So please — come compete and take my job.”


Turlock Fire Chief Robert Talloni and Turlock Police Acting Police Chief Nino Amirfar also spoke to students about their respective departments Thursday, and Congressman Jeff Denham made a surprise appearance to talk about what it takes to be an elected official.


“I just wanted to be here and welcome all of you to the Mayor’s Youth Conference. I think it’s a great way to get involved, but it also gives you a good platform for the future — whether you go out into business or into farming or decide to get involved in government,” said Denham, “having this base understanding of how regulations affect your daily lives, how state and federal funding affect your daily lives, how the decisions that are being made around you affect your future.”


After the morning’s department presentations, students watched a mock Turlock City Council meeting and embarked to the Public Safety Facility, where they received a tour and got an up-close look at various city vehicles. The students also visited Stanislaus State’s Art Space on Main.

Students concluded the day with lunch at the Carnegie Arts Center and a Q&A session with Soiseth and other city staff members before they departed back to their school sites.