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Former councilmember Esquer to challenge Bublak in Turlock mayoral race
Larson will not seek second term for District 1
Esquer Bublak duo
Former city councilman Gil Esquer is challenging incumbent Amy Bublak for the mayor’s seat.

Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak will not run unopposed for re-election this fall as former city councilman Gil Esquer has filed papers declaring his candidacy for a mayoral run.

Esquer filed papers on Aug. 12, the last official day to file for the mayoral race, and said he plans to formally announce his candidacy in the coming days.

“We’re working on a kickoff,” said Esquer, 72, who is semi-retired, working with his wife in an income tax and payroll business. “I’m just waiting to get an (Fair Political Practices Commission) ID number, and then we’re planning on doing something later this month, if everything works out well.”

Esquer was elected to the Turlock City Council in 2016 when he defeated Jaime Franco for the District 2 seat. Four years later, Esquer’s re-election bid was derailed when he fell to current seat holder Rebecka Monez.

Bublak, 57, served on the Turlock City Council for 10 years before she was elected mayor in 2018. She said she welcomes the challenge.

“It’s always better for an office holder to face competition,” she said.

Giving voters a choice is what spurred Esquer to enter the race.

“I do believe the choice is important,” he said. “I also think city government should be impartial and I don’t think it’s impartial any longer. We need to step in and redo the city administration. We’ve had an exodus of people in the last few years. An incredible number of people have been lost. There’s got to be a reason.”

Over the last five years, six individuals have served as Turlock’s city manager. Administration is not the only City department to see a loss at the top position. Recently longtime Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Director Allison Van Guilder left the City of Turlock for a position with the City of Modesto. Turlock has also lost the directors of Municipal Services, Development Services and Economic Development and Housing departments, who all sought positions elsewhere.

Bublak, meanwhile, stands by her record, stating that she’s “proud of what we have accomplished at the city in the past 20 months.” She added that she “look(s) forward to walking and talking with the community” during the coming campaign.

In races for two open city council seats, it appears that real estate agent Chris Nichols will run unopposed as District 1 incumbent Nicole Larson officially announced in a Turlock Journal op-ed (see page A6) that she will not seek reelection.

“Although there is so much more I want to tackle for our community,” Larson wrote, “I will not be seeking reelection for this cycle.”

Any candidate interested in running against Nichols for Larson’s seat has until 5 p.m. today to file papers.

District 3 incumbent Andrew Nosrati already had announced that he would not seek reelection. Ryan Taylor and Kelly Higgins previously made their candidacies public and will be joined in the District 3 race by Cassandra Abram, who filed on Aug. 11. Another potential District 3 candidate, Ramin Odisho, has pulled papers, according to City Clerk Julie Christel, but has yet to file. He has until 5 p.m. today to do so.

The filing deadline was Aug. 12, but when no incumbent chooses to run for a particular seat, the filing period for that race is extended by five days.

Election Day this year is Nov. 8.