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Hughson public forum gets elected officials, community under one roof
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In less than two weeks, Hughson residents will have a rare opportunity to address their representatives in Sacramento and Washington D.C. face-to-face.

But it won’t take a trip to a Capitol – just to the local high school.

“We need to bring government back to the local level to hear the voice of the community,” said Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa, of Hughson, who is planning the first-ever Hughson Government Night event.

From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on June 8, Hughson High School’s Reeder Hall will play host to a public forum with U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R – Atwater), State Sen. Tom Berryhill (R – Modesto), State Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R – Modesto), and Chiesa. Each will offer a few brief remarks, and then answer questions from the audience.

Chiesa said the town hall will offer elected officials an opportunity to listen to constituents’ concerns – and, hopefully, to hear some good ideas to help in tough economic times.

“All of us know we are in difficult times, and that we need to work together to find solutions. The first step in that is to establish a connection and trust with the people we represent,” said Chiesa. “It will be a good opportunity for the public to hear from all the levels of government at the same time, and for government officials to hear how their decisions and policies impact others.”

Hughson Government Night follows in the mold of Chiesa’s earlier Turlock Government Night, held in February at Turlock’s War Memorial. That event hosted Denham, Chiesa, State Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), and State Assemblyman Bill Berryhill (R-Ceres) – along with more than 300 voters – for an evening of questions, answers, and face-to-face discussion about pressing governmental issues.

The government night in Hughson could be even more important to local residents than Turlock’s, given Hughson’s recent political unrest.

In August 2010, nearly 90 percent of Hughson voters agreed to oust Councilmen Thom Crowder, Doug Humphreys and Ben Manley from office, following allegations of corruption. They were replaced by George Carr, Jeramy Young and Jill Silva, respectively.

In November 2010 Hughson appointed a new city manager, and in February the city became the most recent victim of declining tax revenues countywide. Hughson laid off five of the city’s 23 full-time staff members in an effort to balance the budget, which was worse off than most cities’ due to mismanagement by the prior city manager.

Chiesa hinted that the June 8 Government Night could help to restore Hughson residents’ trust in their elected officials, with a little personal interaction showing residents the hard work legislators are doing.

“My goal for the event is to give the residents of Hughson, and surrounding communities, a forum to interact with the representatives they voted into office” said Chiesa. “We have a strong working relationship between the branches of government here in Hughson. I want people to see that work in action and be part of the process.”

Those unable to attend can mail questions in advance to 1010 10th St., Suite 6500, Modesto, CA 95354, ATTN: Jennifer Carlson.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.