The votes have been counted and the winners announced as the 2018 election season comes to an end, but an empty seat will remain on the Turlock City Council dais come December when the new mayor and council members are sworn in.
With Amy Bublak securing the win in the mayoral race — taking 37.14 percent of the vote, 1,609 more votes than the second-place candidate, incumbent Gary Soiseth — there will be an opening at her current City Council seat representing District 4.
According to Turlock City Clerk Jennifer Land, the new City Council will have 60 days from when the new Council is seated — on Dec. 11 — to either fill the vacancy by appointment or call for a special election. The City requested a cost estimate from the Stanislaus County Registrar of Voters on holding a special election in District 4 and is awaiting the answer.
If the City Council decides they want to fill the vacancy by appointment — which seems likely as the state of the City’s finances was a key campaign issue and any special election costs thousands of dollars — they will also need to determine the process. The law does not provide details regarding how to make the appointment, other than it is the City Council’s decision, said Land.
There will be requirements that the appointee is a United States citizen, 18 years of age or older, a registered voter and a resident of Turlock who specifically lives in District 4.
The last time there was a vacancy on the Turlock City Council was in 2006, when then-Council member John Lazar was elected mayor. The new City Council decided in 2007 to appoint Lazar’s replacement — Beverly Hatcher, a former Council member.
When Hatcher was appointed in 2007, there were still citywide Council seats. Since Turlock went to by-District elections in 2016, the new City Council will have to seek candidates from District 4 — which encompasses northwest Turlock bordered generally by Fulkerth Road to the south and Geer Road, Andre Lane and Crowell Road to the east.
A potential appointee whose name has been mentioned for the opening on social media pages over the past few weeks is former Council member Steven Nascimento.
Nascimento lost his bid for reelection 2016 by 33 votes to now Mayor-elect Bublak. The 2,750 people living in District 4 who voted for Nascimento two years may be disappointed to learn that he has no desire to seek appointment for the current opening.
“I’m extremely humbled by all of the phone calls and text messages I have received from members of the community encouraging me to pursue the appointment for the vacant council seat. However, after much consideration I have decided not to pursue the open council seat,” he said. “After leaving the City Council in 2016 I decided to take a break from public life. The past two years have allowed me to focus on my family and my career, while also pursuing some important personal goals. Although I hope to seek public office again at some point in my life, I am simply not in a position to do so currently.”
Nascimento is the public affairs coordinator for the California Special Districts Association. He also serves on the Governing Board at Emanuel Medical Center and on the Board of Directors of the California Portuguese American Coalition, a non-profit organization he founded in 2016.
While he won’t be seeking another stint on the Turlock City Council, Nascimento said he encourages those looking for a way to serve the community to apply for the open seat — and not let recent Council divisiveness deter them.
“Serving on the City Council can be incredibly challenging at times, but also incredibly rewarding. If you are someone who has been involved in the community and has a passion for public service, it can be a great way to deepen your knowledge of the community and how local government functions. If you have an interest, you should definitely apply,” he said.