Turlock residents living on the eastside of town in Districts 1 and 3 will have to decide between a host of new faces in the upcoming election as neither incumbent is running for reelection. The deadline for candidates to file to run for a City Council seat has passed, with two vying for the District 1 seat (southeast Turlock) and four hoping to win the District 3 seat (northeast Turlock).
Real estate broker Chris Nichols and physician assistant Kevin Bixel are both vying for the District 1 seat that is currently represented by Nicole Larson.
Nichols, a Turlock High and Stanislaus State alumnus, is also very involved in the community, coaching basketball at Turlock Christian Junior High for eight years and playing piano at Cornerstone Covenant Church. He has also served on multiple boards for the City of Turlock in the last decade, something that prompted his desire to run for the Council seat.
“The City of Turlock has been very good to me…I feel that I have created jobs, industry and I live the pursuit of happiness every day in our amazing city. I have been fortunate to have amazing success in the city of Turlock and it is time to inspire, motivate and create opportunities for the citizens of Turlock,” Nichols said.
Nichols’ priorities are economic development, homelessness, roads and water.
“To be a successful real estate broker, it is necessary for me to spend a great deal of time listening to people talk about the challenges facing Turlock. Most people agree that fixing our roads, supporting the fire and police departments, solving the homeless problem, fiscal stability and protecting our water supply are the key issues facing Turlock today.
“As a member of the City Council not only will I work on the issue with the Mayor and Council colleagues, I will also use my business expertise and experience to attract new businesses to Turlock, creating much needed new jobs for our residents,” Nichols said.
Turlock has been a home for Bixel and his family for more than 55 years.
“My parents moved here for my father to start his own business in the ‘60s as one of the local dentists in town. I grew up in a Turlock that was abundant of opportunity, clean, and kind to our neighbors — new and old,” said Bixel.
Bixel also pursued a career in the medical field, initially as a paramedic responding to emergencies in Stanislaus County for the nearly a decade and now as a physician assistant.
“My passion for helping those in their most critical state propelled my career in our community for the past 20 years specializing in surgery, emergency room, and urgent care. All while my wife and I raised our family in Turlock. My instinct to help those in need doesn’t stop at patients; now I believe, Turlock itself is in need,” he said.
Bixel’s priorities is bringing civility to the Council, homelessness, roads and public safety.
“I look forward to help restore the character of Turlock within these ever-changing and politically charged times in which we are living. I will collaborate with leaders across the political aisle with respect, not animosity. Raising two intelligent young women along the side of my equally strong-minded wife of whom all have differing political perspectives, I recognize that finding common ground produces better solutions for everyone. Working together is necessary to address issues like truly reducing homelessness in Turlock, realistically upgrading our road network, improving the quality of our public safety for citizens and public safety employees alike. I will steer Turlock to a brighter future through a multi-faceted policy approach,” said Bixel.
Those living in northeast Turlock will have four candidates for the District 3 seat to choose from come November, as incumbent Andrew Nosrati will not be running.
Lifelong Turlocker and Realtor Kelly Higgins said she wants to make a difference in her community.
“I want to be your voice. One which exhibits common sense thought. I am a Realtor, mother, business owner and productive member of society. These are just some of the reasons I want to be the council person elected to this seat. I will bring these qualities to District 3 which needs a fresh new voice that will not say no to issues important to you, like fixing our roads,” she said.
Higgins’ priorities are “continuing the efforts of fixing the city’s roads, sustaining our law enforcement and fire departments, prioritizing our water quality and supply for both city residents and ag based properties and supporting the current council in addressing the homelessness, transients and related criminal activities that are inevitable with this situation.”
Consultant Ramin Odisho is a past president of the Assyrian American Civic Club of Turlock and the Assyrian United Organizations of California. The Turlock High alumnus has degrees in criminal justice and experience in a variety of management and consultant positions.
Odisho said he was prompted to run for the District 3 seat because the Council “must represent all the residents of Turlock and not just special interest groups.”
“Turlock residents deserve to have their voices heard and be represented by leaders who are seasoned in their community, as well as sensitive to their issues,” said Odisho.
Safety and security are his top priorities.
“I believe that by improving our community we can provide a safe and secure environment for our children and families to enjoy a quality of life that is no longer available in the big overgrown metropolis to the west of us,” he said.
Dr. Cassandra Abram grew up in Turlock and returned home after college to join a local optometry practice. For the past two years she has put her career on hold while she raises her two young children.
“My career is all about serving people and solving their problems. I have this drive to want to do that on a bigger scale, to help Turlock prepare for its future,” said Abram.
A top priority for Abram is public safety.
“Public safety means safe streets and sidewalks, first responders who work in our community. It means public spaces and safe parks,” she said.
Abram is also focused on helping prepare Turlock for a “future with less water available” by “transitioning to more sustainable environmental projects.”
When it comes to homelessness, Abram said she has a unique perspective, as she worked on a community health project in Los Angeles’ Skid Row during college.
“I feel like I have the dedication and work ethic to help our city and solve problems,” she said.
Ryan Taylor, a 2021 graduate of Pitman High School, is also running for the District 3 seat. The current Modesto Junior College student has volunteered with local events and said he is looking forward to sharing his thoughts on how to make a positive difference in Turlock.
“I would like to see Turlock continue to grow economically and as a wholesome place to raise a family. My ideas will come from a fresh, young perspective. I plan to encourage all community members to get involved in local government and keeping our city strong. I also want to see Turlock stay connected with its past while moving towards the future,” said Taylor.
Taylor said his priorities, if elected, include roads, access to public restrooms and homelessness.
“My priorities are to be the voice for District 3 by listening to residents and representing their concerns at City Council meetings, develop a strategic plan for road improvements, increase access to public restrooms, and find a feasible action plan to address homelessness within Turlock. I want to continue to support City departments as they work to make our community better,” he said.
All Turlock residents will also be voting on who to represent them as Mayor in the next election. Former City Council member Gil Esquer is challenging incumbent Mayor Amy Bublak. The election will be held Nov. 8. For information on how to register to vote or how and where to receive a ballot, visit stanvote.com.