When asked about his best bowling score, Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh (who also owns McHenry Bowl) didn't offer one number. He noted a dozen 300 games and said his high series of three consecutive games is 826.
That was Marsh's competitive fire showing. That zeal was on display throughout his State of the City speech, delivered to roughly 450 Chamber of Commerce members and lunch guests at Modesto's DoubleTree Hotel on Wednesday.
Marsh doesn't think small. He has big goals and big plans and even bigger ideas on how to accomplish them. For those who might challenge him well, there's that competitive nature.
In his speech and the question-and-answer session that followed, Marsh detailed those large ideas and how he intends to accomplish them:
He wants to bring more jobs to Modesto even if that also means Salida and he wants the city to spend $500,000 to do it.
He wants people who live in Salida to recognize that their best hope for controlling the shape of their community is by joining Modesto.
He wants more opportunities for young people through education and involvement of community groups.
He believes it is of "paramount" importance "to protect and secure" our bread-and-butter, agriculture. He wants a law that will require protection of farmland whenever land in Modesto is developed.
He wants to grow the city "up, not out."
He loves his hometown no matter what the Forbes' listmakers think.
Finally, and most emphatically, he's far past fed up with gang violence in Modesto.
The mayor somberly described attending the candlelight vigil for Tylor Crippen, who was shot to death in Creekside Park last month. He noted that he had attended a similar vigil two years ago and another two years before that. The murders "were all committed by gang members," he said. "We can no longer do business as usual."
Saying Washington and Sacramento "are not going to rescue us," Marsh repeated his call for a public safety sales tax to pay for more "first responders" an idea he's been pushing for several months. "We must take it upon ourselves to help ourselves."
Marsh linked public safety to jobs, saying employers will not locate in a city that's not safe. And to education, saying we must provide truancy intervention and more after-school programs for kids. "The truant, the failing student, the neglected, the dropouts are also sweet targets for gangs," said Marsh. "It's not just policing, but also preventing that we should be addressing."
Ensuring the safety of the public is one of the most important jobs of city government. And Marsh is clearly making that his top priority.