Turlock has a reputation – several, actually. Business friendly. Good water supplies. A city government that responds to residents and businesses while carrying out its duties. Good schools. A university that is aggressive in recruiting then helping students from throughout the region.
As a community, Turlock works. So why make changes?
There are two seats open on what could be the last at-large City Council election. The incumbents – who aren’t perfect, but they’re pretty good – are both standing for re-election. We think voters should re-elect Forrest White and Bill DeHart Jr.
Running to unseat them are three young candidates, and they should be encouraged to not only continue their clear interest in city government, but to get specifically involved on commissions such as planning, parks and arts.
White, in particular, has an excellent grasp of the city’s issues. Like all but one of the five candidates, he is an enthusiastic supporter of Measures A and B. A will create four city districts from which council members will be elected, along with an at-large mayor. Measure B will add half a percent to the sales tax and dedicate it to fixing Turlock’s many potholes.
White also sits on the board that is trying to negotiate a water-treatment plant to be built by Turlock, Ceres, Modesto and Turlock Irrigation District. For 30 years this project has been talked about, yet White remains optimistic. He’s far more excited about a deal to move Turlock wastewater to growers on the west side of Stanislaus County who can put it to good use. It’s a worthy project. He’s concerned with the movement of trains carrying volatile crude oil through the valley to Bakersfield, and he has high hopes for the year-round shelter being opened by the Turlock Gospel Mission to help the homeless.
White is retired and he is already devoting virtually full-time hours to tending to city and regional issues, sitting on the StanCOG board.
DeHart also supports Measure B and is eloquent in explaining why Measure A should pass: “We all know the cost of everything but the value of nothing,” he began. “The value of Measure A is that it represents a core American value. … Representative government is foundational to who we are as a people.” He firmly believes the city will be better served by having a more diverse – even if only geographically – city government. We agree.
DeHart also knows city issues extremely well and has an in-depth understanding of the homeless situation and the efforts to help. While he’s not certain council members deserve larger stipends – an issue that will return to the council in November – he is convinced the mayor should be paid more. At the same time, he does not support the Tin Cup measure that Councilman Steve Nascimento brought forward last year, saying there are already enough layers of government and safeguards – a position we do not endorse.
Matthew Jacob and Donald Babadalir both added substantially to the debate. Jacob is well versed on water issues and, as a businessman, has specific thoughts on making it easier and less costly to do business in Turlock. Babadalir is sharp and analytical, and is suggesting that Turlock and Patterson should partner in smoothing transportation between the cities. He also discussed “intellectual leakage” to keep smart people working for valley companies. But, like DeHart, he has no use for additional campaign limits represented by the Tin Cup movement, preferring “gentleman’s agreements.”
Sergio Alvarado is running for a second time, but his grasp of some issues was tenuous and he does not support Measure B.
Turlock is a city headed in the right direction. The best way to keep it on track is to return Bill DeHart Jr. and Forrest White to the City Council.