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Bublak secures victory in Turlock race for mayor
Two new faces to join City Council
Amy pic.JPG
Mayor-elect Amy Bublak poses with one of her campaign sign, which aptly reads, Amy Bublak Turlock Mayor. - photo by ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal

Updated results from Tuesday’s midterm election show that Turlock will indeed welcome its first female mayor.

Election results as of 5 p.m. Friday show that Amy Bublak has maintained her lead over the city’s other three mayoral candidates, nabbing 37.21 percent of the vote with a total of 7,483 ballots in her favor. Brad Bates trailed Bublak by 1,585 votes with 29.33 percent of the vote and incumbent Gary Soiseth was in third place with 29.21 percent, just 23 votes behind Bates. Jaime Franco was a distant fourth with 799 votes for a total of 3.97 percent.

Bublak celebrated early results with supporters during an Election Day party at Jura’s Pizza Parlor on Tuesday night, remaining cautious of the initial lead as there were still plenty more votes to count. On Friday, however, Bublak and company gathered at the Assyrian American Civic Club to revel in the latest election report.

“I’m excited,” Bublak said as updated results were released on Friday. “I didn’t think I would turn out to do this, but I love Turlock so I feel like this is the right place for me at the right time.” 

“I didn’t think I would turn out to do this, but I love Turlock so I feel like this is the right place for me at the right time.”
Turlock Mayor-elect Amy Bublak

Bublak said that her first goals after taking office include stopping the Tuolumne River water treatment facility, as well as any other “unnecessary” expenditures within the city until the Council has a better grip on its finances.

Despite Bublak’s early reluctancy to claim victory in the race pending final results, both Bates and Soiseth conceded the election through posts to social media in the days following the Councilwoman’s seeming victory.

Through a statement on Wednesday via his campaign’s Facebook page, Soiseth said that he is proud of what was accomplished over the past four years and the “positive campaign” that he ran.

“Negative campaigning may get you elected but it leaves us with a fractured community and I’m proud that we can walk away from this campaign with our heads held high knowing we played no part in creating those divisions,” Soiseth said. “I hope you will continue to join me in encouraging the Council to move forward on the issues that are so important to our city: securing reliable drinking water, investing in our roads and infrastructure and establishing responsible growth plans.”

Soiseth was elected as mayor in 2014 when he ran against Mike Brem and received 61 percent of the nearly 14,000 votes cast in that election. This year’s mayoral race, marked by vandalized campaign signs, Facebook propaganda and even near-physical confrontations drew over 20,000 voters to the polls just four years later.

Runner-up Bates said in a Facebook post on Thursday that he ran the race he intended, bringing up issues like “the budget crisis, staff departures and the toxic work environment at City Hall that never would have seen the light of day.”

“I am gratified by the quality, intelligence and integrity of my many supporters. Your letters to the editor should be combined and published,” Bates said. “The many real and pressing challenges that were brought up during this election will take resolve and political courage to address…I wish Mayor Bublak and the new City Council the best as they write this next chapter in the history of Turlock.”

Helping to write that new chapter, along with Bublak, will be Turlock’s newest City Council members Nicole Larson, who will represent District 1, and Andrew Nosrati in District 3.

Larson jumped out to an early lead on election night and the results released on Friday secured her win in the District 1 vacancy, which was left when incumbent Matthew Jacob decided not to seek reelection. Larson had received 45.8 percent of the vote as of Friday evening, beating out former Council member Forrest White by over 1,300 votes.

Larson thanked her supporters with a Facebook post on Wednesday, stating that she was “humbled and honored” to be the District 1 Council member.

“With God’s guidance, our campaign was a product of pure hard work and integrity, and I couldn’t be more proud. I am proud because this campaign was made up of my family, friends, neighbors, fellow church members, college teammates and new friends I have made along this campaign,” she said. “Our message was positive, encouraging and ready to take on any issue that is facing out city today, and the ones we need to prepare for tomorrow in an objective and collaborative way.”

There were only 105 votes separating Nosrati from incumbent Council member Bill DeHart in the race to see who would represent District 3 as of Wednesday, but with Friday’s update the first-time politician’s lead grew by 240 votes. Nosrati had received 51.41 percent of the vote by 5 p.m. Friday, securing the victory over DeHart, who was first elected to the Council in 2010.

DeHart and Nosrati shared a phone call on Wednesday morning following the election, with the departing Council member offering his support to the city government newcomer.

“To the voters that supported me, I extend my gratitude. To the voters who supported Andrew, know that you have supported an energetic and insightful candidate,” DeHart said Wednesday in a Facebook post. “To all voters, I would encourage you to rally around him and offer your united and thoughtful support. I’m anticipating great things from him and our community as we seek the very best for Turlock.”

In a similar Facebook post on Wednesday, Nosrati thanked DeHart for his outstanding leadership and the important role he plays within the community, referring to him as a “beloved man.” He also thanked those who voted for him.

“Every vote you cast, word you spoke and action you took meant an incredible deal to me and made this possible,” he said. “Simply the ability to belong to a community like my own is a privilege, and the opportunity to be able to serve it is an honor I do not take lightly.”

In addition to new Council members Larson and Nosrati, Turlock will soon see another face join the Council. With Bublak securing the mayoral seat, the Council’s District 4 seat is left vacant. The City Council will have to decide whether to hold a special election to fill the seat, or take applications then appoint someone to serve the remaining two years on the District 4 term.

Bublak cautions against holding a special election, she said.

“If you’ve watched me for the past 10 years, I don’t spend a dollar we don’t have,” she said.

According to Turlock City Clerk Jennifer Land, the City has not yet done a cost analysis on how much a special election would cost the city. When the new mayor and Council members are sworn in on Dec. 11, one of the first orders of business for new City Council will be deciding which action to take in order to fill the Council vacancy.