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Soiseth: Seeking a second term to complete a bold vision
State of City pic
Gary Soiseth, pictured here during the State of the City address in March, announced Friday that he will be seeking a second term as Mayor of Turlock. - photo by Journal file photo

Over the past two years and eight months, I’ve been honored to be the mayor of Turlock. We’ve continued to be a community that leads our region on many fronts and we’ve been a community with clear, bold goals: to improve our failing roadways, to find a solution for reliable drinking water, and to manage our finances with discipline. Together, we’ve accomplished these goals and, as your mayor, I’m asking for four more years to see these goals to the end.

We worked hard to pass Measure L, the half-cent sales tax that will bring millions of dollars to Turlock every year to fix our failing roads. This is just the beginning of the work, though; now it’s our challenge to bring to life these much-needed projects quickly and efficiently.

We worked hard to secure 9 billion gallons of drinking water per year for fifty years. This project, too, is just getting off the ground and we have much more planning and investing to do if we’re going to meet our goal of groundbreaking next spring.

And we worked hard to bring our final expenditures into balance—and, in some years, into surplus—each year that I’ve been elected. We even took one-time funds and paid off over $5.5 million of high interest debt that will save our city over $6 million. This is not an easy feat that happens without effort, as we must remain committed to fiscal restraint as we balance the need to bolster our very modest departments.

In addition to our past accomplishments, we’ve also set the conditions to make Turlock an even better city into the future. We’ve restored vital programs in our police and fire departments, bringing back the K9 and street crime units, replacing vehicles and engines, and adding officers and firefighters—all actions that have placed our departments on a road to meeting their full potential. 

These investments would not be possible, however, without a strong local economy to support them. Our economic indicators show that Turlock’s economy is holding strong, with higher-than-expected sales tax generation, near full-capacity in our hotels, and record low vacancy rates in our downtown core. 

In addition to looking at numbers, we can also see examples of mothers pushing strollers downtown after dark, showing their feeling of safety; you can see families from different cultures, religions, and languages side-by-side on a Sunday afternoon in Crane Park; and you can see a visible shift of more Stanislaus State students enjoying not only the campus, but also the rest of our great city. 

I know another year remains before I need to turn in my paperwork to officially become a candidate for re-election, but I want to make sure the entire Turlock community knows that I’m committed to seeing through the projects that we’ve started. I clearly presented a bold agenda to the people of Turlock when I ran for office in 2014, and I look forward to laying out an even bolder agenda in 2018. 

As I reflect on my relatively short time as mayor, I’ve come to the realization that no elected official can fully satisfy every single resident with every single decision made; I’m no different. In fact, I can spot the decisions, events, and moments that I’d like to do over and I can tell you the decisions that I wish would’ve produced better results. Regardless of these outcomes, though, I’ve tried to do what’s right, do what’s fair, and do what’s best for Turlock.

I’ve learned from my mistakes and I believe they've made me a better mayor. I also believe my fellow Councilmembers—Bill DeHart, Matthew Jacob, Gil Esquer, and Amy Bublak—have made me a better communicator, a better listener, and a better leader. We might all tackle issues from different angles, but we all firmly put Turlock first in every decision we make. I’m lucky to work with them and Turlock is lucky to have them lead our great city. 

As I embark on this lengthy campaign for another four years as mayor, I want to thank each Turlock resident for allowing me to fight their fights and to serve them each day. While my time working to rebuild a country alongside the men and women of our armed forces in Afghanistan remains the most challenging and rewarding chapter of my life, it’s this role as mayor that’s proven to be the most enjoyable, most tiring, and most humbling of experiences.

Thank you again for your trust. I look forward to next year’s campaign, where I will continue my tradition of leading with a positive message and walking door-to-door to personally ask you for your vote of confidence once again.