As an effort to recall a Turlock City Council member continues, one member of the community has also called for an official censure of the elected official.
In July, a group of community members calling themselves SAVE Turlock started the process to recall Turlock City Council member Andrew Nosrati, who has served only a year and half of his four-year term representing the residents of District 3 in northeast Turlock. The group said they were seeking Nosrati’s recall from office because he “failed to represent the primary interests of his constituents on multiple key issues.”
One member of SAVE Turlock, Ron Bridegroom, is not only supporting the recall of Nosrati but also requested the City Council censure him for his recent conduct.
“His words and actions are dividing our community and fanning the flames of racial hatred,” Bridegroom told the City Council during their regular meeting on Oct. 13, alluding to recent comments made by Nosrati through his social media accounts.
In one Twitter post, Nosrati wrote: “Lol at Ron acting like he is an unbiased citizen looking out for the best interest of Turlock folks. He tries to play the role of sweet old man when convenient, but schemes just as hard as ‘Mayor’ Bublak and Retired Amirfar.” This post was followed up with a photo of Bridegroom and the comment: “Time to update the resolution on your picture so we can see the red in your eyes.”
Retired Turlock Police Chief Nino Amirfar has joined the SAVE Turlock petition effort and has been vocal about ousting Nosrati from office.
“He has no understanding of what it means to be a public servant. He has no right to ridicule or threaten his community members regardless of their beliefs. He was elected to represent his district and he should be the example and take the high road but he has never been able to do that,” Amirfar posted on the SAVE Turlock Facebook page.
Bridegroom also called out other City Council members during the Oct. 13 meeting for not acting on his request for censure.
“If this Council continues to do nothing, then you are condoning and enabling Nosrati’s destructive behavior of both of himself and our community along with demonstrating you have no real commitment to the Say No to Hate campaign and your word is worthless,” said Bridegroom.
While other members of the public also called into the City Council meeting to speak out against Nosrati, the Council member was not without supporters.
“I want to thank Councilmember Nosrati, who is my district representative, for his service to the community and resilience in the face of lies and aggression. I am grateful for your work and I am deeply saddened to see so many members of our community choosing to waste so much time and energy on this divisive, hateful rhetoric,” said Lisette Sims.
Nosrati also defended his actions.
“At the end of the day there is a very personally motivated attack against my character and a campaign that I’m not trying to create hate, but really defend my character, the actions I’ve done and put the truth out there so people can see it. If there are people who are aggressively involved in political activity, they are putting themselves in a position to be spoken directly to,” he said.
Turlock City Attorney Doug White said that the censure process is very rarely used because it’s essentially a judicial procedure and expensive.
Censure is a formal resolution to reprimand a Council member for misconduct. A request for censure has to come from a City Council member. The accused has the opportunity to respond to accusations through a findings process. There is an investigation and a public hearing.
Censure is the most severe recourse the City Council could use to address the actions of a colleague. Other actions the Council could take include admonishment and reprimand.
Admonishment serves as a formal reminder of the rules and is not disciplinary in nature. A Council member submits a request for admonishment and then it goes before the full Council for vote.
A reprimand is similar to censure but is used when the misconduct does not rise to the level of requiring censure. With a reprimand, the accused has the opportunity to respond to accusations and there is a public hearing.
White said in the past several weeks, the City of Turlock has received a number of complaints against Council member Nosrati for his comments, but also complaints against SAVE Turlock for their actions.
On Oct. 14, Nosrati posted a video on his Twitter account saying “goodbye” to the SAVE Turlock group.
“I, over the last couple weeks, have made light of this group of heavily engaged citizens. In recent days, there has been some people in the public who have been upset in the nature of how I’ve interacted with them. I have made light of, made jokes at their expense and I think at this point I just want to say a proper goodbye. I think I’m giving you just a little more attention than you deserve. You have every right to try and do a recall. You’ve got until Dec. 24 to collect signatures. Honestly, I just want to move on from this; there are so many more important things to be doing in this town…I’ve made jokes at your expense because I’ve been endlessly the target of attacks from individuals in your group...” Nosrati said in his video post.
Despite his video farewell to the recall group, Nosrati was seen that same day talking to people who were coming towards a recall informational booth at the Raley’s grocery store on Geer Road.
SAVE Turlock has until Dec. 24 to obtain the required number of signatures — 20 percent of registered voters in District 3 — and file it with the elections office. If the required number of signatures are obtained, a recall election will be held no less than 88 or more than 125 days after the petition has been examined and a certificate of sufficiency made.