The race for the Turlock City Council District 2 seat heated up this week as one more candidate threw his hat into the ring, while the filing period for District 4 was extended as incumbent Council member Becky Arellano decided not to run.
Arellano, who was appointed to the District 4 seat in January 2019 to fill the vacancy left open when Amy Bublak was elected Mayor, told the Journal last week that she was still debating whether to run to keep her seat in November. On Friday, Arellano announced she would not be filing papers to run in the election so she can devote more time to helping her children through this difficult time in education.
“My term on the Turlock City Council ends this November, and while I have enjoyed the opportunity to serve all of you in this capacity, I now have to do another pivot. My children (as is true for most of you moms as well) will be entering into distance learning. My three boys need me to be there for support and help to ensure a successful school year. My full-time job now, as is true for many of you, is being a teacher, mom, coach, support system, business owner and wife to my wonderful husband,” said Arellano.
The Council member said she is proud of what she helped to accomplish during her two years representing District 4 including:
— Hiring a permanent and qualified City Manager who also happens to be a resident of Turlock;
— Establishing a balanced budget;
— Taking historical steps towards the Water Treatment Plant that has been waiting for 15 plus years;
— Voting to change the health care plan for city employees and now working towards a share/cost agreement;
— Securing and redirecting Measure L funds to include residential streets;
— Securing Federal C.O.P.S. grants for four additional police officers for Turlock;
— Ensuring fire stations remained open and functioning; among other projects.
“I am proud of these accomplishments, but make no mistake, Turlock remains in a very challenging budget situation, and due to the growth in population we have experienced, we will need new revenue sources to both maintain and increase the level of service that Turlock residents expect and deserve,” said Arellano.
She went on to thank her family, constituents and city staff in supporting her for the past two years.
“As I leave this role serving District 4 here in Turlock, I do want you all to know that I will continue to work as a member of the business community. I will remain involved in economic development and redevelopment projects throughout our community. I will always be in service to my city that we all love,” said Arellano.
The regular candidate filing deadline ended on Friday, but as Arellano is an incumbent who decided not to run for election, the filing period for the District 4 seat on the City Council has been extended to Aug. 12.
As of Friday, there is only one candidate for the District 4 seat — Pam Franco.
Franco said if elected, her priorities would be:
- Fulling funding and supporting Turlock’s police and fire departments;
- Fixing roads;
- Bringing transparency of government to the citizens;
- Working with the Mayor, other Council members, City staff and citizens to make Turlock more business friendly;
- Using tax dollars wisely.
“As a local business owner, I understand the importance of solid planning, budgeting and follow through. With more than 30 years’ experience in the business and accounting fields, I can bring sound ideas to solve our concerns,” said Franco.
For more information about Franco, follow her on Instagram @pamfranco2020.
Incumbent Council member Gil Esquer will be seeking a second term representing the residents of District 2 come November.
“The bottom line was that there’s a few projects we’re in the middle of I’d hate to walk away from,” said Esquer when asked why he decided to seek a second term on the Council.
Those projects include the surface water project that Turlock is involved in building with the City of Ceres as the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority, repurposing the National Guard Armory facility on Flower Street as a community center and pushing the downtown rehabilitation further into the westside.
He’s also still committed to bringing better streets, lighting and sidewalks to the District 2 area.
Esquer said he knows the City’s budget shortfalls will continue to be the biggest challenge in coming years.
Joining Esquer on the ballot will be challengers Rebecka Monez and Ruben Wegner.
Monez is the owner of downtown shop and nonprofit Charity Thrift Store. She has not responded to requests from the Journal on her priorities for District 2.
On her campaign Instagram page, Monez says she is “NOT a politician. I’m a problem solver.” She also released a video stating that because of the hardships with COVID-19, she will be holding only one campaign fundraiser, a drive-thru dinner on Sept. 2.
“Thank you to everyone who has expressed their support already. I am beyond excited and honored for the opportunity to help solve problems for the people of Turlock, District 2,” Monez wrote on Instagram.
For more information about Monez’ campaign, follow her on Instagram @rebecka_monez_for_turlock.
The second challenger to the District 2 seat, Wegner, is no stranger to public service.
He served six years with the California National Guard and has been a volunteer firefighter with the Turlock Rural Fire Department since 2008. A former code enforcement officer for the City of Turlock, he currently works in fire prevention and emergency management with Stanislaus County.
Wegner said safety and security prompted his decision to run for the City Council seat.
“I would like to live in a town that is safe and secure, both physically and financially,” he said.
His priorities include fixing the lights down Lander Avenue and helping the city staff to restore revenue to the City of Turlock.
“I want to make it that you can see down Lander and in the neighborhoods; make sure it’s safe for all the residents and citizens of Turlock to walk around and feel safe,” he said.
Wegner said he is against the city’s half cent sales tax measure that is set to be on the November ballot.’
“I would like to be a part of the conversation on how to restore the revenue in other ways. I don’t think the residents need to take the burden in fixing the city’s finances,” he said.
Wegner would also like to figure out where all the money is with regards to road funding and “see a little transparency in the funds for road maintenance.”
Wegner is currently putting together a campaign Facebook page to release more information. To contact the candidate, email: Wegner4District2@gmail.com.