The individuals who applied to fill the District 4 seat on the Turlock City Council — left open when Amy Bublak was elected Mayor in November — make up a diverse field of candidates.
Of the eight applicants, five are women. There is a real estate developer, attorney, engineer, probation officer and graphic designer. While none of the applicants have been elected to serve in a public office previously, they all are involved in the community through industry associations or volunteer organizations. It’s now the Turlock City Council’s job to weigh the qualifications of each candidate to find the best person to represent the residents of District 4 for the next two years.
At their Dec. 11 meeting, the Turlock City Council voted to fill the District 4 seat vacancy by appointment rather than a special election. Interested citizens who reside in the District had until Monday to submit an application.
On Tuesday, the City Council voted to hold a public interview of each candidate starting at 8 a.m. Jan. 28 at City Hall. Each candidate will be given three minutes for an opening statement, followed by 27 minutes to answer questions by the Mayor and Council members.
The Council will set another special meeting date — before the Feb. 9 deadline the City has to fill the position by law — to discuss the interviews and choose a candidate to fill the open seat.
All of the candidate applications are available for public review at www.cityofturlock.org.
The candidates are:
— Stephanie “Joy” Biddle
Biddle is the executive director of Creative Alternatives, a nonprofit organization based in Turlock that operates residential care homes for children, foster care services and private schools. Biddle has a Master’s in Public Administration with Honors from American Public University and a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education from Stanislaus State. Her current and previous community involvement includes being a board member for the Turlock Chamber of Commerce and a Chamber Ambassador.
Biddle said the most important issues facing Turlock today are: “Homeless, roads, water storage. Affordable housing for low income families, vocational training opportunity, mental health services. Lack of primary care physicians and public safety concerns.”
Biddle submitted a list of 13 names on a petition for her bid for the District 4 seat.
— Myrna Wachs
Wachs is a program coordinator for the Homemaker Program at Catholic Charities in Modesto. Wachs has an Associates Degree in Physical Education/Recreation from Los Angeles City College and has attended the University of Southern California and CSU Northridge. Her current and previous public service and community involvement includes being a board member on the Senior Advocacy/Law Project, being an ombudsman in Stanislaus County, advocating for residents in nursing homes; board member of Congregation Beth Shalom in Modesto; driving seniors to appointments and visiting the homebound; serving meals at the We Care shelter; and working as a trained advocate for battered and homeless women in Los Angeles.
Wachs said the most important issues facing Turlock today are: “The increase in homeless men, women and families coupled with the lack of adequate affordable housing…I have concerns about the City of Turlock’s budget and making sure we can pay our bills.” Wachs also mentioned the many potholes across town and the lack of affordable senior housing units.
Wachs submitted letters of support from Joyce Gandelman, the executive director of the Senior Law Project, Rabbi Shalom Bochner of Congregation Beth Shalom, and District 4 resident Manuel Jimenez, Jr. She also submitted a list of 21 names on a petition for her bid for the District 4 seat.
— Donald Babadalir
Babadalir is a product protection engineer at Lockheed Martin Space. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Stanislaus State and a graduate degree in Nutrition and Packaging Engineering from San Jose State University. His community involvement includes volunteering with a number of organizations including USF, DRAIL, F&AM, AACCOT, Bet Nahrain Cultural Organization of Ceres and ACERO, to name a few.
Babadalir said the most important issues facing Turlock today are: “…water, public safety, crime and homelessness (all affected by policies and poor budgeting), and lack of advocacy/marketing. To be specific, Turlock is suffering from a lack of advocacy on the county and state levels. Policies on those levels have detrimentally affected our crime levels and increased homelessness. Also, state water policies have fabricated what could have been a preventable water crisis.” He also mentioned that he would “hold the city accountable for transparency.”
Babadalir submitted a link to a change.org online petition to appoint him to the District 4 seat. There were 86 signatures when he submitted a copy to the City Clerk.
— Pamela Franco
Franco is a real estate broker, builder and developer. She is co-owner of Turlock building company, California Heirlooms. She attended Modest Junior College, Stanislaus State and Bryer State University online. Her current and previous public service and community involvement includes serving two terms on the City of Turlock Development Collaborative Committee and on the Turlock City Homeless Committee. She was the first woman president of the Building Industry Association of Central California. She is head coach of the Turlock Christian High volleyball and track teams and helped found the Turlock Crush volleyball club. She recently helped found the Tri County Blue Line Alliance, a nonprofit that serves at officer funerals and other special needs that arise due to in-the-line-of and off duty police incidents.
Franco said the most important issues facing Turlock today are: Business and tourism bringing jobs and revenue into the City and promoting Turlock as a valley destination…road repair…fire protection…homelessness…and stewardship, making sure we spend the City funds in the best and most prudent way possible.”
Franco submitted letters of support from former mayor John Lazar, former city council member Kurt Spycher, Turlock business owner Grant Davis, Tri County Blue Line Alliance secretary Shelly Koch, and newly elected sheriff Jeff Dirkse and his wife Sandi. She also submitted 37 names on a petition for her bid for the District 4 seat.
— Samuel Elias Sharpe
Sharpe is a supervising probation officer with Stanislaus County. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management from Menlo College and a Master’s of Science in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership from the University of San Diego. His current public service includes being assigned to the multi-agency Community Assessment and Response Engagement team as a manager, being a trustee for the Stanislaus County Employee Retirement Association and serving in the United States Marine Corps. His previous public service includes being a member of the Stanislaus County Veterans Advisory Commission and being a member of the Stanislaus County Peace Officers Association.
Sharpe said the most important issues facing Turlock today are the homeless crisis and ensuring that “taxpayer money is spent carefully, impartially and ethically.”
Sharpe submitted a list of five names on a petition for his bid for the District 4 seat.
— Harleen Wahid
Wahid is an attorney at Dail Slentz, P.C. Attorneys at Law office in Modesto. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from UC Davis and a Juris Doctor degree from the McGeorge School of Law at UOP. Her current and previous community involvement includes being president of the Turlock Nursery School, member of the California State Bar, member of the Walnut Elementary PTO, member of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association and member of the Turlock Sikh Temple.
Wahid said the most important issues facing Turlock today are: “Lack of cohesion and transparency within our prior council.” She also cited rapid growth and the need for information on new employment, housing and schools, water and road repair as important issues.
Wahid did not submit a petition for her bid for the District 4 seat.
— Frederick Isaac
Isaac owns Artistic Printing, Inc. He has an Associates degree in Graphic Arts from Modesto Junior College. Isaac’s community involvement includes being a member of the Modesto Metro Rotary Club, Modesto East Rotary Club and former board member of the Assyrian Aid Society of America and Assyrian American Civic Club.
Isaac said the most important issues facing Turlock today are financial, balancing the budget and cutting wasteful spending, and fixing the roads.
Isaac did not submit a petition for his bid for the District 4 seat.
— Rebecca Arellano
Arellano is a partner in Arellano Management Services, a grape, walnut and almond brokering firm, and Arellano Communications Group, which handles government relations, marketing, political fundraising and public relations. She has an Associate’s degree from Modesto Junior College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science from Stanislaus State. Arellano’s current and previous public service and community involvement includes being a precinct director and fundraising coordinator for political events, member of Turlock Leadership Class, member of California Women for Agriculture and Turlock Eagles 4-H leader.
Arellano said the most important issues facing Turlock today are transportation, water, business development and retention and community relations. She also cited budgetary and staffing as key issues and said homelessness is a national crisis, as well as a problem in Turlock.
Arellano submitted a list of 13 names on a petition for her bid for the District 4 seat.