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Former Councilman speaks out against mayoral candidate
Brad Bates for Mayor
Turlock mayoral candidate Brad Bates said that public safety endorsements are a conflict of interest. - photo by Journal file photo

While election day is still 11 months away for Turlock’s mayoral race, the campaign rhetoric is already heating up.

Former Turlock City Council member Ted Howze has vowed to launch a negative ad campaign if former mayor Brad Bates doesn’t withdraw from the race.

“I hope Brad reconsiders! I’d take no personal pleasure in sending a glossy 8X10 opposition mailer using his DUI mugshots to expose the former ‘Puppet’ mayor of Turlock again, but will if necessary. Brad has only served the interests of his ego and his donors!” wrote Howze on a Facebook post sharing a Journal story about Bates’ decision to run for mayor in the November 2018 election.

Bates released a statement in response to Howze’s comments, in which he admits to being arrested in Southern California in 2009 and plead guilty to a charge of reckless driving with alcohol involved. This charge, commonly called “wet reckless,” refers to a reduced plea arrangement made by a driver arrested for driving while intoxicated.

“My blood alcohol level was .08. The legal limit in California to operate a vehicle is .08. I was arrested and spent the worst night of my life in a Southern California county jail…I surrendered my drivers license for six months and learned I can get to the DoubleTree office complex in Modesto where my office was, quite easily using the #10 Express bus from Turlock. My servicing assistant drove me to most appointments. I attended a mandatory weekly class for 10 weeks and ultimately paid about $10,000 in legal costs, fines and increased insurance in the first year,” said Bates.

“I am embarrassed by this event, not the least of which was having the entire ordeal played out in front of my daughter.”

Bates said that he knew this arrest would eventually be brought out during his mayoral campaign and he’d like to use the experience as a cautionary tale to others who may think they can have a couple of drinks with dinner and still be able to legally operate a vehicle.

“When you hear the radio or TV ads, or the highway signs that say ‘Buzzed driving is drunk driving,’ they mean exactly what they say. If you feel a little ‘buzzed,’ you are likely to be over the legal .08 limit…I would tell students that in my 40 plus year career in the insurance industry, I have seen many, many situations where an individual has been denied employment, or terminated from employment, for non-work-related DUI violations. For many employers and other career opportunities, a DUI or the reduced ‘wet reckless’ conviction can alter the course of your life,” he said.

This is not the first time that Howze and Bates have been political adversaries.

The former members of the Turlock City Council — Bates as mayor from 1982-1990 and Howze serving as a Councilman from 2006-2010 — both ran for the Stanislaus County Supervisors District 2 seat in November 2004. During that campaign, Howze mailed out flyers depicting Bates as a marionette-style puppet that claimed the former mayor had a financial relationship with the developer of the first Turlock Wal-Mart project. Bates eventually dropped out of the 2004 supervisor race, leaving Howze and Tom Mayfield to duke it out in the voting booths. Mayfield won with 54 percent of the vote to Howze’s 45 percent.

While Howze is not running against Bates in the upcoming mayoral race — the veterinarian moved to Stockton a few years ago, but still works in the Turlock area — he is determined to campaign against a third mayoral term for Bates.

“Turlock is an evolving city and I think it’s time for leadership that’s not rooted in the past. I think Turlock needs to go forward, not backwards and I don’t think Brad represents that,” said Howze.

As of Friday, only two Candidate Intention Statement forms had been filed with the Turlock City Clerk for the November 2018 mayoral race — current Mayor Gary Soiseth and Bates. However, the official filing period won’t open until July 2018, leaving plenty of time of mayoral hopefuls to throw their metaphoric hats into the ring.

Soiseth, who signed a pledge to comply with the City’s Voluntary Code of Fair Campaign Practices in June 2016, said this about Howze’s comments regarding Bates: “Turlock deserves campaigns about policy issues, not personal attacks. My 2014 campaign remained focused on the issues important to Turlock and that’s what I commit to do again.”