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Mayoral race heats up: Bublak vying to unseat Soiseth
amy bublak
Council member Amy Bublak announced that she is running for the mayoral seat in the November election. - photo by Photo Contributed

There is now a three-way race for the Turlock Mayoral seat, as Council member Amy Bublak announced Friday that she is challenging Gary Soiseth in the November election.

Bublak joins former Mayor Brad Bates in challenging Soiseth for the Mayoral seat.

Bublak said that her main reason for entering the race was her belief that Soiseth is not putting the interests of Turlock residents first.

“Our current Mayor has failed to move our city forward in a rational, transparent manner. His current micromanagement leadership style has created chaos, resulting in horrific staff turnover, a caustic work environment and a lack of public trust in city government,” said Bublak in a released statement.

“His lack of fiscal responsibility has resulted in a near collapse of many of our city departments. It is time for new leadership that will operate transparently by putting the interests of taxpayers first,” she continued.

Soiseth said that regardless of who enters the race, he will run a campaign about policy issues, not personal attacks.

“My 2014 campaign remained focused on the issues and that’s what I commit to do again. Our community is thriving, we’ve taken bold measures over the last three years and accomplished numerous historic achievements together. I look forward to sharing these achievements and laying out my clear vision for Turlock face to face to each and every voter,” said Soiseth.

Bublak has served on the Turlock City Council since 2008. She is a retired law enforcement officer.

Bublak said in her campaign statement that 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.”

She also promises to work to attract new businesses to Turlock and address the issue of homelessness.

Fellow challenger Bates announced in November 2017 that he would be once again seeking to represent the citizens of Turlock as Mayor. Bates served two terms as Mayor of Turlock, from 1982-1990. Before heading the Turlock City Council, Bates served many years on the city’s Planning Commission. He is retired from running his family’s insurance agency.

Campaign finance reform and perceived conflicts of interest on matters before the Council are two of the issues Bates said urged him to run for office.

“Over the past three years I’ve come to this City Council to speak on several significant community issues. The results were unacceptable, without exception. As a direct result, I’ve chosen to pursue an alternate path to seek the changes that I and others in the community seek. I’m announcing tonight that I will be a candidate for mayor in the next general election,” said Bates in November.

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.

Tensions between Bublak and Soiseth have been heating up during City Council meetings over the past several months. In September, Bublak accused the Mayor of discriminating against her for committee assignment nominations based on gender.

The Mayor nominated Vice Mayor Bill DeHart to serve as a representative of the City of Turlock on the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority, Council member Gil Esquer to serve as an alternate member on the West Turlock Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency and Council member Matthew Jacob to serve on the City/County Liaison Committee — all three committees Bublak had previously served on.

“It’s kind of ironic to me that we just discussed people being treated differently and you just took a female off three of the boards and there was no other female on any of the boards. I just want to make a point that we need to think about what we’re doing. If we’re going to say that we want inclusion, that we don’t want people to be treated differently, then I’m not sure where we’re going with this,” said Bublak at the Sept. 26 Council meeting.

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.

Bublak was concurrently serving on five committees and as an alternate on two other committees over the last year, while the other three council members each served on two committees, with Jacob also serving as an alternate on two others.

“The idea that gender played a role in my comments or committee assignments is incorrect and is frankly very insulting,” said Soiseth about the committee assignments to the Journal. “Excluding alternate roles, Councilmember Bublak is appointed to five committees as a member. She remains the chair of the Local Agency Formation Commission, Community Development Block Grant Selection Committee and the Economic Development Workgroup, three of the most consequential committees impacting the city and region. She also serves on various ad hoc committees that include the Turlock Tourism Evaluation Panel.

“It was appropriate to adjust the committee assignments so that each Council member has the opportunity to serve their city fully, and now each Council member serves on three committees, with the exception of Councilmember Esquer, who serves on three committees as an alternate.”

This will not be the first time that Bublak has ran against someone that she shares a dais with at City Hall. In 2016, she ran against fellow Council member Steven Nascimento to represent the newly created District 4. The close race was won by a difference of 33 votes.

In 2014, Bublak ran for the Stanislaus County Assessor seat and lost to Don Gaekle.