Congratulations, Turlock – you’ve made an excellent choice for your next mayor.
Sound a little premature, considering the election isn’t until Nov. 4? Not really.
In voting for either Mike Brem, 59, or Gary Soiseth, 30, the citizens of Turlock will be making a good choice for mayor. Rarely have we seen a race with two such qualified candidates. Even more rarely have we seen such a polite, even friendly, race. During The Bee’s editorial board meeting, each spent more time agreeing with his opponent than pushing his own position.
Making a choice is difficult. But voters must choose, and so will we.
Voters should choose Mike Brem, the former president of SupHerb Farms, to be mayor. Two things weighed distinctly in his favor:
• Knowledge of the community. He has run a business but also spent 14 years on the Planning Commission and held leadership roles on the Turlock Economic Task Force, Stanislaus Partners in Education and Society for Handicapped Children.
• Support for Measure B. Both candidates want to see Turlock’s roads fixed. But Brem wants to get started more quickly by passing the half-cent sales tax measure to improve roads in every area of the city.
Brem’s support is unequivocal. Soiseth waffles, worrying the provision that terminates Measure B if Stanislaus County ever passes a similar sales tax (and that’s a big “if”) would strand some city road projects, leaving voters angry. We disagree. The council and City Manager Roy Wasden wouldn’t let that happen. Setting aside today’s clear needs in fear of tomorrow’s “maybes” isn’t good planning.
If you agree with his position, Soiseth will make a wonderful choice. His preparation to lead Turlock is far different from Brem’s, but his credentials aren’t exactly shabby. He has worked in Rep. George Radanovich’s office and spent time in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as part of an agricultural mission. His duties included helping manage the city. If he can deal with military red tape and Third World bureaucracy, he can likely lead Turlock.
In so many areas, the candidates had similar thoughts, and both were remarkably well informed.
• On water, both recognize that relations between the city and Turlock Irrigation District need to improve and that a surface-water plant is a necessity, especially in light of the city shutting down wells due to arsenic and other types of contamination. Brem has a slightly more nuanced view of the wastewater debate, recognizing TID’s disinterest until the drought deepened. Soiseth wants to “keep every molecule” in the basin, which isn’t a bad position, either.
• Both want a South County Corridor on the county’s front burner. Proud of the Turlock Regional Industrial Park, they feel a connection to I-5 is crucial. As Soiseth put it, “it’s clear the economic driver of the county is in the south.”
• Both are concerned over an anticipated increase in rail cars carrying volatile crude oil through the town.
• Both feel Turlock should grow to the south, being mindful that the best soils for groundwater recharge are not covered.
We like both candidates, but only one can win. If the losing candidate walks away from public service after Nov. 4, it will be Turlock’s loss. Vote for Brem, but keep Soiseth in mind.