Turlock residents may have made history on Tuesday, voting in the city’s first female mayor.
Election results as of 11 p.m. Tuesday show Amy Bublak leading all mayoral candidates with 36.94 percent of the vote with 63.89 percent of the vote counted. Brad Bates was trailing Bublak by 365 votes with 32.15 percent of the vote and incumbent Gary Soiseth was in third place with 27.28 percent.
While Bublak’s supporters at an Election Day party being held at Jura’s Pizza were celebratory, the candidate herself was more circumspect about the early results.
“I’m optimistic, but…I’m always going to wait for the final, final. I feel like right now that my efforts going out and walking door to door really paid off. We’ll see what happens with the final ballots today,” said Bublak, who wasn’t able to do any last-minute campaigning on Tuesday due to being sick with the flu.
After seeing the numbers in the early results, Soiseth conceded the race during a speech in front of dozens of supporters at LaMo.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Soiseth about the numbers. “I’ve been proud the past four years of being mayor; proud to have all of you behind me. I’m proud of moving the needle after 30 years of discussion on the water plant. I’m proud of moving forward Measure L, which is going to bring over $192 million of projects here, not to mention the money we’re going to leverage from Sacramento and D.C. But that’s what we did over the last four years.
“Now, we’re proud that potentially another council can take it and, hopefully, further it and better Turlock. It’s the onus for whatever council comes after us to unite this city,” he continued. “There’s been a lot of divisions and I’m proud that our campaign was not the source of those divisions. But we also need to be open and ready to be part of that solution to make sure we are united as a city. Turlock is the best city in the Central Valley.”
Along with being the first female mayor, Bublak may also be the first police officer to hold the office. Bublak is a retired City of Modesto police officer. The presumed mayor-elect said that she didn’t consider her gender when decided to run for office.
“I hope to just be that person who just reaches out and has everybody working with me…I think that’s my leadership in a nutshell,” she said.
A number of the city’s police officers were on hand Tuesday night to support Bublak in her race for mayor.
“I am here to support Amy in her venture to become mayor of Turlock. I’ve had many conversations with Amy both officially and nonofficially, and she’s always been open to hearing us out. She doesn’t always agree with us, but I appreciate that. I don’t always want someone who’s going to agree. At least she’s willing to hear us out, hear what our ideas are. She let’s us do our jobs,” said Turlock Sgt. Russell Holman, a past president of the Turlock Associated Police Officers.
Mayoral candidate Jaime Franco had 3.33 percent of the vote by 11 p.m. with 254 votes.
If Bublak secures the mayoral seat with the final numbers, it will leave her Turlock City Council District 4 seat open. The City Council will have to decide whether to hold a special election to fill the seat or take applications and then appoint someone to serve the remaining two years on the District 4 term.
Larson wins District 1; District 3 race too close to call
The make up of the 2019 Turlock City Council will be much different than in the previous two years.
In the District 1 vacancy left when incumbent Matthew Jacob decided not to seek reelection, Nicole Larson all-but secured the seat with 45.48 percent of the vote by 11 p.m. Tuesday, beating out former Council member Forrest White by 466 votes. Jon Boulos was in third place late Tuesday with 16.80 percent of the vote, followed by Autumn Salazar with 9.87.
“There’s still some votes to be cast, but we’re really happy with the lead. Glad that my district and city are behind me. Ready to put the hard work into what needs to be done,” said Larson.
There were only 42 votes separating the District 3 candidates by 11 p.m. Tuesday, with challenger Andrew Nosrati in the lead. Both Nosrati and incumbent Bill DeHart were unsure of what to think of such a close race.
“This is my first time running, so I don’t know what to make of the numbers. I’m happy that I’m ahead. I didn’t know what to expect today. The closer it got to Election Day the more excited I got, but now I’m worried I’ll be heartbroken,” said Nosrati, who spent Tuesday night hanging out with friends.
DeHart watched the early results with supporters at Mundos and was perplexed by the early results, but not surprised by the close race.
“The work is done. We had a lot of very active folks in walking and communicating. I’m very satisfied. I was pleased overall,” he said.
Check back at turlockjournal.com for final election results.