Recently, I watched both the Turlock Journal debate and Modesto Bee editorial board interview of the mayoral candidates. What was noticeable is that Mayor Soiseth continually made attempts to deflect all blame for the current problems facing our city. Anytime a problem was mentioned, it was dismissed as “alarmist rhetoric.” This was said as if there is no real concern and that by saying there are problems is somehow demeaning this city. Let me state this: as a lifelong Turlock resident, former council candidate, former PARC Commissioner, third generation graduate of THS and two-time graduate of CSU Stanislaus with a Master’s in Public Administration, I believe this to be a great city and by pointing out the difficulties that we have does not diminish such a notion.
The main issue in this election, as it ties into all the other issues, is the city’s finances. The Mayor stated that spending the reserves is “investing in the community.” What happens when the investment begins costing more money than we have? What happens if it causes bankruptcy? What happens when the individuals that are hired must be laid off? These are legitimate questions, not “alarmist rhetoric.” The Mayor keeps stating that revenue will be looked at in the future. Shouldn’t that have been first? What about the declining sales tax revenue?
Investing in the community can go beyond just simply spending resources. True leadership also has investment value. Perhaps, the entire council should examine Turlock’s organizational structure or recruitment issues. How can resources be better positioned? What partnerships can be formed to help in the effort toward public safety? How can the citizens get involved? It helps to be inclusive and not divisive or defensive when trying to find solutions. Someone once said, it does not matter who gets credit just get the problem solved.
Mayor Soiseth, you were given the chance, by a wide margin, to lead. A chance that a small fraction of the population gets, to serve the public in an elected position. I will not seek to impugn your motivations; however, I do believe your understandings are ill-informed. Further, where your opponents are not being truthful is negative campaigning. Though, when the facts support statements they and others make it is not being negative or alarmist, it is being realistic. Also, you said your campaign is about the issues. Like it or not, your mayoral seat is an issue. The decisions that you and the council made are an issue.
Lastly, Mayor Soiseth you promised to be bold in the last election. Your slogan now is “clear vision, bold leadership.” Recently, a flyer of yours stated that you have a “Track record of increasing reserves, investing in public safety, and paying down debt.” In fairness, you did advocate the paying off PERS. Yet, to no avail, you and council simply spent the savings. Deficit spending is not bold, is not increasing reserves and is not investing in public safety when there is no “clear vision” on how to continue to pay for the investment. Further, if any of the claims of your lack of civility are true than that is of major concern and an issue and would not be something I consider to be “bold” leadership or having a “clear” vision.
So, to the voters of Turlock, what is the state of this election? We have the Mayor, a former mayor, a current council member and a former council candidate. I appreciate Mr. Franco stepping forward, I just wish I could have heard more from him in terms of his plans to approach issues facing Turlock. Councilwoman Bublak, having relocated within the city to get reelected to council, continually voted for the Mayor’s position on issues that she is now campaigning against. She says she is not for taxes, however, on prior occasions she advocated for looking into a public safety tax. As for Former Mayor Bates, there are conflict of interest concerns when he was mayor. What has changed? What lessons did he learn from his tenure as mayor?
One person did not create this situation alone. The voters in each council district must decide if their member should share in the responsibility. In particular, I hope District 3 considers the role that Councilman DeHart played. This election becomes about narrowing down choices. One candidate means well, two candidates are virtually the same, and one candidate says they will be a different direction. It is arguable that Turlock needs a different direction. With all things considered, Mr. Bates is the best option among our choices. Maybe, one day, hopefully soon, issues can actually get meaningfully addressed.
— Jeremy Rocha