With 10 days remaining in the nomination period for the November election, three candidates have filed papers so far to run for the open Turlock City Council seats.
Two of Turlock’s four Council seats will be on the November ballot — District 2 (encompassing the southwest area of town) and District 4 (northwest area of town).
Incumbent Council member Gil Esquer is eager to continue representing Turlock’s District 2 residents.
“The bottom line was that there’s a few projects we’re in the middle of I’d hate to walk away from,” said Esquer when asked why he decided to seek a second term on the Council.
Those projects include the surface water project that Turlock is involved in building with the City of Ceres as the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority, repurposing the National Guard Armory facility on Flower Street as a community center and pushing the downtown rehabilitation further into the westside.
Esquer is proud of the work he’s done as one of the Turlock representatives on the SRWA board.
“We need to keep the water project moving. We realized there would be a price tag on it, but water is going to be more of a problem. We all need water. We figured out we can’t sustain the groundwater. Fifty years now, my daughter and her children — if she decides to have any — can say ‘my grandfather worked on that,’” said he said.
He’s also still committed to bringing better streets, lighting and sidewalks to the District 2 area.
Esquer said he knows the City’s budget shortfalls will continue to be the biggest challenge in coming years.
“If we don’t see another revenue stream coming in, we’re really going to be hurting. We need to find that revenue and then use it appropriately, where it’s needed. I know everybody always wants more, but sometimes we need to look at what we actually need,” he said.
With the coronavirus pandemic prompting social distancing, this campaign will be vastly different than his last one in 2016.
“The tough part is trying to raise money virtually or by phone. That’s going to be a challenge. I’m trying to do a lot of stuff by email. It’s a challenge; I can’t host any fundraisers or meet and greets,” said Esquer.
Esquer retired from Tri Valley Growers after 33 years and for the past several years has worked as a notary public out of his wife's business, Taxes Plus. Over the years, he's also been very active as a volunteer with the Turlock Jaycees, Knights of Columbus and Sacred Heart Church. Esquer is a Turlock High and Modesto Junior College graduate.
To find out more about Esquer, visit his Facebook page at Gil4Turlock or email him at Gil4Turlock@gmail.com.
Running against Esquer for the District 2 seat will be Rebecka Monez.
Monez, owner of downtown shop and nonprofit Charity Thrift Store, was unable to provide information about her campaign by press time.
For more information about Monez’ campaign, follow her on Instagram @rebecka_monez_for_turlock.
There is one candidate so far seeking the District 4 seat — Pam Franco.
“As a local business owner, I understand the importance of solid planning, budgeting and follow through. With more than 30 years’ experience in the business and accounting fields, I can bring sound ideas to solve our concerns,” said Franco.
Franco said if elected, her priorities would be:
- Fulling funding and supporting Turlock’s police and fire departments;
- Fixing roads;
- Bringing transparency of government to the citizens;
- Working with the Mayor, other Council members, City staff and citizens to make Turlock more business friendly;
- Using tax dollars wisely.
“We need City Council members that understand our community, are fiscally responsible and have the experience necessary to make hard decisions on how to spend our $42 million General Fund budget. As a lifelong resident, I raised my family in Turlock, built a successful business in the Central Valley and I have the experience to make the tough decisions necessary to help govern Turlock,” said Franco.
For more information about Franco, follow her on Instagram @pamfranco2020.
District 4 incumbent Council member Becky Arellano said she is still considering whether she’ll seek to retain her seat come November.
Arellano was appointed in January 2019 to fill the District 4 seat left open when Amy Bublak was elected Mayor. While the Councilwoman said she enjoys representing Turlock’s interests, she has to consider the impact to her husband and three children with school closures due to the pandemic.
Arellano and other candidates will have until Aug. 7 to file papers to seek one of the open City Council seats. As the incumbent, if Arellano decides not to run, the nomination period for that seat will be extended to Aug. 12.