Turlock residents active on social media may characterize the 2018 mayoral race as a no-holds-barred smackdown between competing camps, but at Wednesday’s Turlock Young Professionals mixer candidates took a more low-key approach to campaigning.
Mayoral candidates Brad Bates and Gary Soiseth — who just weeks earlier were reported to almost come to blows following a debate hosted by the Modesto Bee — were meeting and greeting the young professionals in the same room with no fireworks apparent. Joining the mayoral hopefuls were City Council candidates Bill DeHart, Forrest White, Nicole Larson and Jon Boulos.
Mayoral candidates Jaime Franco and Amy Bublak and City Council candidates Andrew Nosrati and Autumn Salazar were also invited to the mixer, but were unable to attend.
TYP President Nick Antrim said the group, which is part of the Turlock Chamber of Commerce, invited the candidates to their monthly mixer meeting to “let people get to know the candidates a little bit better” in an informal setting.
“At this point, we’re all pretty used to it,” said Larson about campaigning alongside opponents. “It’s more organic than people think.”
During the mixer, candidates mingled and talked with people in small groups or one-on-one about the issues.
First-time TYP attendee Titus Briseno said that what’s good for his family is most important to him in the election.
“I have a wife and young child. As Turlock grows I want Turlock to stay a family-centered community. Ten years from now I want (my daughter) to love Turlock as much as I do,” he said.
“For me, it’s the future prosperity of Turlock and what we need to do to make it ideal,” said TYP member George Mauricio.
TYP member Tyler Flaherty listed roads and growth as his top-of-mind priorities.
The condition of Turlock’s smaller roads was also important to TYP member Victoria Morad, but the tone of this year’s election concerned her most.
“I’ve seen more propaganda on Facebook and none was very positive, which surprises me. None of the candidates tell you what they can do for Turlock,” she said.
Campaigns of the past focused on canvassing neighborhoods and meet-ups like the one held Wednesday, but while you can still find candidates going door to door soliciting votes, social media is now their biggest platform.
Bublak, Bates and Soiseth have all used social media platforms like Facebook to get their messages out through video, daily campaign updates and by reposting news stories relevant to their key issues.
Mayoral candidates are also spending big bucks on the online and social vote — with Bates spending by far the most.
According to Campaign Statements filed with the City Clerk’s Office as of Oct. 20, Bates has spent over $35,217 on his campaign website, video production and Facebook advertising. Bublak has spent over $7,876 to produce her video campaign ads and promote them online. Soiseth has spent over $4,092 on his website and social media. Franco has reported no campaign expenses.
Only three of the six candidates for City Council seats have reported spending money on websites or social media, with Nosrati spending the most at $336, followed by Boulos with $150 and Larson at $100.
Spending tens of thousands of dollars on online and social media campaigning is a new thing for Bates.
“Other campaigns I have been involved in were before social media, so there is no comparison. News cycles were days, not hours. Issues were defined by the newspaper, not Facebook and blogs. (They were) less expensive, less rancor, less partisanship,” he said.
Bates said that his final campaign push leading up to the election will be a family affair. He plans to continue walking neighborhoods 90 minutes each evening with his daughter, Augusta, while his wife Tina makes phone calls to registered voters.
Bublak said she will continue to walk precincts, meet new voters, make a few videos and answer voters’ questions in the coming days.
“This in my fourth election in Turlock and like all the
previous campaigns it has been a pleasure to walk precincts, debate my
colleagues on the issues and share my vision for Turlock’s future. The biggest
difference in my last two campaigns is the social media. It has been a learning
experience and a lot of fun to produce videos allowing me to share my vision
with Turlock residents for the future of Turlock.
I am so fortunate to be able to work with so many campaign volunteers dedicated to make Turlock the best city in California,” she said.
Soiseth said he has a strong finish planned for final days of campaigning.
“We have dozens of volunteers that will continue to knock on hundreds of doors to engage with residents about the issues important to them: safe drinking water, reliable roads, and strong public safety departments. Our team will be working hard to earn every vote right up until 8 pm. on election night,” he said.
Soiseth said this election is very different than the first time he ran for mayor.
“I'm extremely disappointed by the political games being played by my opponents this year. The politics of personal destruction needs to stop, but I'm proud my campaign is leading by example by staying above these negative tactics. We are a 100 percent positive, issues-based campaign and our team will continue to provide accurate information to voters instead of trying to confuse them with misinformation.”
Election Day is Nov. 6. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mailed ballots must be postmarked by Election Day. Hand-delivered ballots must be dropped off at a poll or the County Elections Office by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Find your polling place location at stanvote.com.