RIVERBANK -- Seven people are vying for two seats on the City Council in the November election. Whoever wins will help lead a city that is working to right itself after some recent troubles.
The discord included the ouster of longtime City Manager Rich Holmer, the misbehavior of embattled Councilman Jesse James White, who is not running for re-election, and the council's decision to walk away from the more than $15 million in debt issued by its now-defunct redevelopment agency.
But the city has its strengths, including the former Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant, which it is turning into an industrial park, and new City Manager Jill Anderson, who is drawing praise after about six months on the job.
Here's a look at the seven candidates:
Darlene Barber-Martinez, 61, has owned TSW Financial Tax Service for 20 years. Before that, she was a guest service team leader for Target for almost a dozen years.
She said running for council is the natural outgrowth of being an active community volunteer through such endeavors as reading to schoolchildren and taking part in cleanup days.
"I just want to do a little bit more," she said. "I want to help the city make decisions."
Her concerns include addressing a stagnant downtown. The city's more than $9 million beautification of its central core is beautiful, she said, but it needs more businesses.
She wants to see the city continue its development of the former ammo plant. She is proposing that the city partner with Riverbank High School to create an apprenticeship program in which students work for ammo plant businesses.
Barber-Martinez said that's an excellent way for students to gain valuable job skills and experience that will help them no matter what they do in life.
Cal Campbell, 64, is a retired Oakdale schoolteacher who has lived in the Riverbank-Oakdale area for a half-century. His career in education included administrative work and teaching kindergarten through college.
Campbell was a Peace Corps volunteer in India and served in the Army.
He said he has learned the importance of listening to others and respecting their ideas in order to complete projects.
Campbell said he wants to be part of a council that finishes major projects, including redeveloping its downtown and the shuttered cannery next to it.
"I'd like to see the old downtown be more of a focal point of the community," he said.
He wants to provide more recreation and opportunities for seniors and children. He said the city has made a great start with its teen center but needs to do more.
"I don't have all the answers, but I'm willing to put in the time to find the answers," Campbell said about the approach he would take as a councilman.
Leanne Jones Cruz, 48, is a special-education teacher at Beyer High School and the school's special-ed department chairwoman.
She said she has deep roots in the community, with her mother's and father's family making Riverbank their home since the 1930s.
Jones Cruz said she is focused on bringing jobs to downtown and maintaining Riverbank's streets, parks and other public infrastructure.
"We need some businesses to attract people to the downtown," she said. "We have a beautiful downtown, and we spent all this money, but it's not being used."
Jones Cruz said her hometown roots, plus being new to politics, give her a perspective that would help the council.
Kathy Salvatore, 43, is a Comcast communications consultant and works with businesses on their telephone, fiber optics and Internet services. She is an active volunteer and serves on the board of the Stanislaus County Police Athletics League.
She said as a councilwoman, she would work to promote Riverbank to businesses, particularly those in the Bay Area that are looking for a less expensive area that offers a high quality of life.
"There are a lot of things that our community as a whole has to offer," she said.
She said she wants to build on the good work of the current council to make Riverbank even more friendly to business.
Salvatore said she wants to look for ways to get Riverbank Police Services and its officers more involved in the community. She wants public safety to remain a top priority.
Jeanine Tucker, 55, is a court operations manager for the Stanislaus County Superior Court and the only incumbent in the field. She was elected to the council in a special election in March 2011 to fill the remaining 20 months of the term of a councilman who had resigned.
"I feel like I've come in and done a lot of what I've wanted to do," she said, "but I feel like there is so much more to do."
Tucker counts among her achievements restoring trust in the city after its recent upheavals, focusing on economic development and keeping residents safe. She said she wants to continue to work on bringing in jobs and keeping enough officers on the street.
She was part of the council majority that voted to use the courts to try to remove White from office but later abandoned that after spending more than $50,000.
Tucker said she was among those on the council who pushed hard to end the litigation once the legal costs started to escalate and the matter would not end soon.
She said she has been unfairly portrayed as being part of a voting bloc with Mayor Virginia Madueño and Councilwoman Dotty Nygard. Tucker said while that's not true, she has become more of her own person.
"I think I've become a more independent voice in the last 18 months," Tucker said. "I think people are seeing me that way. I do my homework on the issues, and I take it very seriously."
Council candidates Anthony D. McKinney and Jessica Molina could not be reached for comment.
The League of Women Voters of Stanislaus County will hold a candidate forum Thursday at the Riverbank Community Center, 3600 Santa Fe St. The forum is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2316.