Candidates in both the Turlock Mayoral and the District 10 Congressional races have already been taking swings at each other through social media, but come the third week of September, voters will have the chance to watch them face off on the issues.
The Turlock Journal is hosting a Turlock Mayoral candidate forum on Sept. 20, followed by a District 10 Congressional debate on Sept. 22.
There are four candidates seeking to be Turlock’s mayor for the next four years: incumbent Gary Soiseth, City Council member Amy Bublak, former mayor Brad Bates and challenger Jaime Franco. Three of the four candidates haven’t wasted any time in letting voters know what their visions are for the future of Turlock — and, in some cases, how they are different than their opponents’.
Soiseth announced in August 2017 that he would be seeking a second term as Mayor of Turlock. In announcing his candidacy, Sosieth touted his work on getting the surface water treatment plant project off the drawing board and into reality and getting Measure L passed, the countywide transportation tax that will bring much-needed roadwork funding.
Bates announced his candidacy in November 2017, saying he wanted to give the voters a choice and to “bring some things back to City Hall that this community was built on, ethics integrity, civility, fairness.”
Bublak announced her candidacy for mayor in March, saying if elected, she would “create an open, positive work environment” and “operate in a transparent manner so that the citizens of Turlock understand our council decisions and how they affect the future of Turlock.”
Franco was the last enter the race, filing his papers on Aug. 1. Franco, who unsuccessfully ran for the Turlock City Council District 2 seat in the 2016 election, said he entered the mayoral race as a way to serve the community.
Over the past several months, the mayoral race has become increasingly contentious.
When Bates entered the race at the end of 2017, he said that he was unhappy with the way Soiseth has been running the City, “and the thought of another potentially five years under the current leadership is just not something that is acceptable to me.”
Since then, Bates has posted a number of campaign videos on social media criticizing Soiseth for the “farmers market debacle,” the size of his campaign signs and for calling an emergency City Council meeting on homelessness.
Even before she announced her candidacy for mayor, Bublak had been in opposition of Soiseth. In September, she accused the Mayor of discriminating against her for committee assignment nominations based on gender. The Mayor responded by saying that her exclusion to the nominations for the committees had nothing to do with her gender, but rather it was a way to have more equitable assignments for the other Council members.
In recent months, Bublak has posted campaign videos attacking the Mayor’s policies on roads, homelessness, public safety and water.
Soiseth has posted his own campaign videos, focused on his work with water projects and new ordinances to address homeless issues. He did post a rebuttal to a comment posted by Bublak about fiscal responsibility, stating: “My opponent acts like I’m the only person to vote on our budgets. In fact, out of the recent $3.29 million in investments spent, Councilmember Bublak voted for $2.96 million of it along with all three other Councilmembers. Facts matter, integrity matters.”
Franco has posted thank you notes to his supporters on Facebook, but hasn’t released any campaign videos.
Issues that will be covered during the Turlock Mayoral candidate forum will include water, roads, the City’s budget and economic future, public safety staffing and funding, homelessness and the City’s ban on cannabis sales.
The Turlock Mayoral candidate forum will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Carnegie Arts Center in downtown Turlock. It is a free event, however, all attendees must have a ticket. A lottery will be held for the limited number of tickets available. The public can enter the lottery for a ticket by filling out the form attached to the event’s advertisement in today’s newspaper and mail it or return in person to: Turlock Journal, 138 S. Center St., Turlock, CA 95380. Free entries are also available at the Journal office during regular business hours. Entries must be received by 5 p.m. Sept. 14. Names will be drawn at 5:01 p.m. Sept. 14 and each winner will receive two tickets. The candidate forum can also be viewed live at youtube.com/turlockjournal.
While the race to be Turlock’s next mayor has been heated, it doesn’t hold a flame to the pitched battle between incumbent Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) and his Democratic challenger Josh Harder, also from Turlock.
The high-profile race was targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as part of their campaign to flip Republican-controlled districts over to Democrats, and following Harder’s victory in the primary, Denham will defend his incumbency against the blue wave for the fourth straight election.
Harder came out of the primaries swinging at Denham, saying: “I think what we saw on Tuesday was a wholesale rejection of Jeff Denham…I mean, when 62 percent of voters vote for somebody else, that’s a terrifying sign if you’re him.”
Harder has also attacked Denham for his party loyalty.
“A consistent theme came up I’d like to underscore: Denham has been a career politician for decades now, and yet he continues to say one thing while he goes back to Washington and does another. We haven’t seen progress on water, on immigration, or on creating new job opportunities for our community because Denham has been unwilling, time and time again, to stand up to his party leaders,” said Harder in early August.
Denham is no stranger to warding off Democrat attacks, firing right back at Harder since winning the primary in June. The Congressman started a #BayAreaHarder campaign on Twitter saying that his challenger “doesn’t represent our district’s values. Our district wants Immigration Reform that includes Border Security. @joshua_harder wants open borders. It's because he is with the Progressive Left & Silicon Valley over the Central Valley & #CA10. Actions > Rhetoric.”
Denham has also called Harder “an outsourcing profiteer” and no friend to farmers for failing to attend a water rally at the California State Capitol.
“Josh Harder’s failure to attend and fight the state water grab or meet with local ag leaders shows he’s not fit to represent the Central Valley,” said Denham in an Aug. 21 statement.
The two have also fought over debating. After not being able to agree on details of a debate format for months, the two District 10 candidates finally came to terms on a video livestreamed debate hosted by the Modesto Bee and a ticketed event hosted by the Turlock Journal.
Issues that will be covered during the Journal’s debate include water, immigration, healthcare, transportation and party leadership.
The Turlock Journal’s District 10 Congressional candidate debate will be held from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sept. 22 at the Carnegie Arts Center. The event is free, however, all attendees must have a ticket. A lottery will be held for the limited number of tickets available. The public can enter the lottery for a ticket by filling out the form attached to the event’s advertisement in today’s newspaper and mail it or return it in person to: Turlock Journal, 138 S. Center St., Turlock, CA 95380. Free entries are also available at the Turlock Journal/Ceres Courier, Manteca Bulletin and Oakdale Leader offices during regular business hours. Entries must be received by 5 p.m. Sept. 14. Names will be drawn at 6 p.m. Sept. 14 and each winner will receive one ticket. The debate can also be viewed live at youtube.com/turlockjournal.
Local candidate profiles and information on other races will be featured in the 2018 Election special section, which will be inserted in the Sept. 19 issue of the Turlock Journal.