Almond grower Gary Soiseth enters Turlock mayor race

03/25/2014 1:02 PM

03/25/2014 7:33 PM

Gary Soiseth, an almond grower with experience in public policy and advising Afghan farmers, announced Tuesday that he is running for mayor.

Soiseth, 29, will face Mayor John Lazar, who said last week that he would seek a third term in the Nov. 4 election.

“My campaign is not about John,” Soiseth said. “It’s about what I can offer the city of Turlock.”

Soiseth is an adviser on water and energy policy for the Modesto Irrigation District and grows almonds in the Turlock and Ballico areas. He worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Army on improving farming in war-torn Afghanistan, which he said gave him experience in managing programs worth tens of millions of dollars.

Soiseth said he would address Turlock’s uncertain groundwater supply and improve Highway 99 interchanges and local roads. He called for keeping homes from encroaching on farms and other businesses.

Curt Andre, who served as mayor from 1990 to 2006, has endorsed Soiseth.

“My generation has had its chance to fix the challenges that Turlock faces,” Andre said in a written statement from the campaign. “It is time to let the next generation step forward and lead, and Gary is the right man for the job.”

Soiseth has taught international relations at California State University, Stanislaus, and said he would create a public policy scholarship there for local students.

He has worked as a White House legislative affairs intern; a field representative for former Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa; and in federal relations for the Association of California Water Agencies.

Soiseth attended Turlock High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Berkeley and a master’s in public policy with emphasis in water resources and agriculture policy from Georgetown University. He also studied agribusiness management at the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.

Soiseth is single. His father, Scott Soiseth, is director of child nutrition for Turlock Unified School District.

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