Turlock voters made history on Tuesday, electing the city's first two District representatives to the City Council. As of 10:10 p.m. Tuesday, Gil Esquer was leading Jaime Franco substantially in the District 2 race (with 60 percent of precincts counted) and Steven Nascimento was ahead of Amy Bublak and Donald Babadalir in District 4 (with 50 percent of precincts counted).
"I've heard a lot of positive statements throughout the campaign, but at the last minute they actually have to get out and vote," said Esquer while awaiting election results Tuesday night with supporters at the Crust & Crumb bakery and pizzeria in downtown Turlock.
Franco, who checked election results with supporters at the Mariscos Guayabito restaurant in downtown Turlock, said that no matter what the final result was for District 2 it was already a win for the westside of Turlock as an unprecedented number of residents came out to vote on Tuesday.
In a rare Election Day meeting, Bublak and Nascimento joined their fellow Turlock City Council members in the Yosemite Room at City Hall on Tuesday. Just as they have for the past four years, the two Council members worked together to oversee the City of Turlock's business for the evening, while at the same time knowing voters were in the process of deciding which one (if either) would continue to serve for the next four years.
The two incumbent city council members ran aggressive campaigns — and spent significant amounts of money in an attempt to secure the District 4 seat.
As of Oct. 22, Bublak reported raising $43,251 in campaign contributions during 2016 — three times the amount she raised in her 2012 campaign. Nascimento raised $30,978 for 2016, almost double the amount from 2012.
Challenger Babadalir has not filed a campaign contributions report with the City Clerk's office. Under state law, candidates who receive or spend less than $2,000 on a campaign are not required to report contributions.
"Candidates in Turlock shouldn't have to raise this amount of money for district elections, but I knew the kind of money I'd be going up against," said Nascimento.
Along with the large amount of campaign contributions the two council candidates also promoted their respective endorsements.
Bublak received the Turlock Firefighters Local #2434 and Turlock Associated Police Officers endorsement. Mayor Gary Soiseth, along with former mayor Curt Andre, also published letters supporting Bublak for District 4.
Nascimento garnered the endorsement of former mayor John Lazar and current Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson, along with a host of elected officials and community members.
"Party politics" came into play at the end of the race, according to Nascimento, who also said it was "highly irregular" for a sitting mayor to endorse one council candidate over another.
While Nascimento spent money on yard signs and other campaign materials, he said engaging with the voters in his district on a personal level had the most impact.
"We had great support from the community and a lot of supporters walking the district," he said. "The campaign resonated with the voters and it shows in the results.
"I think what's important now is for Turlock to move forward in a positive direction," continued Nascimento.