Former Hughson Mayor Matt Beekman, removed from the Stanislaus Local Agency Formation Commission in 2015 for defying pro-development marching orders of other mayors, wants back on the growth-guiding panel. But this time, instead of representing cities, Beekman – no longer a politician – would represent the public.
His competition is Pat Gillum, a former longtime member of the Modesto Planning Commission who ran unsuccessfully for Modesto City Council two years ago.
The decision will be made Wednesday by LAFCO members, including the one who replaced Beekman after he was booted for political reasons.
It was a complete failure of leadership.
Matt Beekman, speaking of his fellow mayors upon his removal from LAFCO in 2015
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Beekman’s controversial dismissal from LAFCO, and events leading up to it, were well documented in 2015. A 5-4 majority of mayors in the county removed him when he favored a formula for valuing fees paid to preserve farmland elsewhere when a city sacrifices farmland for growth. Among other duties, LAFCOs rule on requests for city annexations.
Beekman strongly defended his position, as did almost all audience members in two hearings. Some established a Facebook page in his support, and a few weeks after his removal, he was given a standing ovation while receiving the award for outstanding commissioner of the year at a statewide conference of the California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions.
My education and experience afford myself the opportunity to be a productive, constructive public representative.
Matt Beekman in recent LAFCO application
Beekman, a beekeeper, did not run last year for re-election in Hughson after serving six years on its City Council and five on its Planning Commission. He was not reached for comment Friday; his application for the public member position says, “I believe LAFCOs serve an essential part in local governance that can have a positive impact on a county’s business climate, municipal fiscal health and overall quality of life.”
Gillum, a certified public accountant, mounted a respectable campaign but lost to Modesto Councilwoman Kristi Ah You. She had served eight years on the Modesto Planning Commission and two on the city’s Board of Zoning Adjustment, is a longtime Lions Club member and has served on several nonprofit boards.
The regional perspective that LAFCO affords would allow me, using my past experience, to help make sound decisions representing all Stanislaus County citizens.
Pat Gillum in LAFCO application
“I have witnessed the loss of farmland and sometimes unbridled residential growth,” she said in her application.
The idea of someone with policy experience representing the public at large is not new to LAFCO. Its current public representative is Brad Hawn, a former Modesto councilman who lost a bid for mayor in 2012. Before him, Ron Freitas, the county’s former planning director, served as LAFCO’s nonvoting public alternate, a position now held by Annabel Gammon, a former county planning commissioner.
I enjoy having a position that is important to the future of our county.
Brad Hawn in LAFCO application
Rules are forcing Hawn and Gammon to rotate out, but Hawn has applied to take the alternate public seat, voting only in the absence of the regular public member. Commissioners could appoint Gillum or Beekman to either regular or alternate public member, but Hawn’s only option is the alternate spot.
Voting Wednesday will be two county representatives: Supervisors Terry Withrow and Jim DeMartini (Kristin Olsen is their alternate), and two city representatives: Turlock Councilwoman Amy Bublak and Oakdale Councilman Tom Dunlop, who had filled Beekman’s vacancy (Waterford Mayor Mike Van Winkle is their alternate).
Upon Beekman’s dismissal from LAFCO in 2015, speculation bubbled that the new panel composition, with Dunlop, might reverse the farmland preservation ordinance, but that never happened.
Wednesday’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the basement chamber at Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St., Modesto.
Garth Stapley: 209-578-2390