Modesto Councilwoman Stephanie Burnside will have to win a second election in two years to capture a full term in District 5.
The Nov. 5 election is a rematch between Burnside and Jenny Kenoyer, a retired nurse.
Burnside, known as a fiscal hawk at City Hall, said her institutional knowledge is an asset as Modesto deals with crucial issues.
“I want to make sure we are fiscally sound,” said the small-business owner. “We need to make the right decisions moving forward. I was not happy this year with the budget we passed when expenses were not in line with declining revenue.”
Kenoyer counters that she’s the person who can help the city find solutions to revenue shortfalls and homelessness.
“I would like to see Modesto be the All-American City I remember when I was growing up,” Kenoyer said. “I feel confident that I can add a lot to the City Council.”
Burnside was a 12-month appointee before defeating Kenoyer and Joshua Esteves in 2011 to capture a two-year term. She worked on transportation during the past two years, traveling the state to meetings to urge Caltrans to release funds for improving the interchange at Pelandale Avenue and Highway 99. Burnside was instrumental in bringing the California Transportation Commission meeting to Modesto this month, where funding for the Pelandale project was handed over.
She serves on the Stanislaus Council of Governments’ executive panel and the Modesto Regional Fire Authority board.
If she is re-elected, the incumbent vowed to protect taxpayers’ money, promote fiscal responsibility and work to attract jobs.
Kenoyer’s priorities are providing an efficient city government, protecting farmland and ensuring public safety. She also wants to establish a day center for the homeless through a nonprofit group.
Burnside said she’s raised about $17,000 for her re-election drive, while Kenoyer campaigns on a lower budget, going door to door in District 5. The council district encompasses an area north of Briggsmore Avenue roughly between Tully Road and Rose Avenue.
Kenoyer claims she is more committed to farmland preservation than the incumbent, after Burnside’s vote in July to support the 500-home Woodglen development at Pelandale Avenue and Tully Road. The challenger said the city already has 900 acres zoned for residential projects inside its borders.
Burnside explained that Woodglen had been planned for a decade and was “inked and done,” so there was no reason to oppose it. “If I am pro-business, it doesn’t mean I believe we should pave over everything. I value farmland and the economic impact agriculture has on the Valley,” she said.
Kenoyer said she supports the Measure X sales tax on the November ballot, although the city needs to make sure it doesn’t overspend if the six-year tax is approved. She charges that Burnside is hedging on the 1 cent tax proposal, which would generate an estimated $26 million a year for public safety, road repairs and other city needs.
Burnside has complained that council members were kept in the dark as Mayor Garrad Marsh and City Manager Greg Nyhoff developed the tax measure this year. She favored taking a harder look at spending.
But the council’s Sept. 10 resolution setting priorities for Measure X spending “helped address a lot of public concerns,” Burnside said. The resolution called for applying 50 percent to public safety, 25 percent to road repairs, 15 percent to parks upkeep and economic development, and 10 percent to general fund reserves.
“If the public wants to pass this tax, it’s my job to be fiscally responsible and make sure it is spent on what was shared with the public,” Burnside said.
Kenoyer is pushing for a drop-in center for the homeless so they have a place during the daytime when shelters are closed. The day center would link them with services and result in less panhandling in front of downtown businesses and in parking lots on McHenry Avenue, she said.
“The center in Turlock is working really well,” Kenoyer said. “The homeless problem in Modesto needs to be addressed before we can start improving the downtown.”
The senior advocate also is urging the city to put a yellow blinking light at a Downey Avenue crosswalk often used by retirees living at Ralston Tower.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2321.