LIVINGSTON -- The November election for mayor will probably be a heated one, but the race for the open council seat is also shaping up for sparks to fly.
Mohani Thiara, who was a co-chair of the "No! On the Recall" campaign, filed her paperwork to run for the open council seat, as did former mayor Gurpal Samra, an outspoken advocate of the recall, and Planning Commissioner and former Councilman Roy Soria.
Thiara, a teacher in Los Banos and a resident of Livingston since 1976, said she chose to run to heal the split on the council and because of encouragement from the community.
"I want to bring the community together, but first of all bring the council together," she said. "Obviously, with the divide, we really can't be better for the community."
There are issues with the City Council that need to be addressed, Thiara said.
"When I go to City Council meetings, what I see is basically grudges between each other, not thinking about what's best for the community," she said.
Thiara isn't fazed by the experience of her opponents.
"Samra -- I don't think he's done anything good for the community, personally," Thiara said.
If elected, by staying objective and not siding with anyone, Thiara hopes to bring some stability to the council, she said.
There are already plans to start a committee to support her election.
Though she was against the recall, Thiara said she's not associated with any political group in Livingston.
"I'm hoping that we can all come and be sensible enough to put our personal and past grudges behind us," Thiara said. "It's going to be tough."
Soria, who's also running for council, couldn't be reached for comment.
Samra, who's spent four years on the council and four years as mayor, thinks Thiara's history with the "No" on the recall push shows where she's positioned politically.
"She called every person I know to support the 'No' on the recall," Samra said. "That tells me where she stands on policy."
Samra will be putting his political experience to use during the campaign, which he expects to heat up during October.
His platform includes addressing issues with the water, sewer and garbage rates, cutting back on unnecessary capital projects and reducing fees to residents and businesses to generate more tax revenue for the city in the long run.
Samra would also like to see downtown improved by filling empty lots along Main Street, he said. That could be accomplished by taking advantage of grants.
A strong focus on recreation and police is also part of Samra's platform. "My voting record shows that I've been a strong supporter of recreation and the police department over the years," Samra said. "I will not waiver on that."
Though there will be a lot of emotion during the upcoming election, Samra asked one request of his fellow candidates.
"Let's please run a positive campaign," he said.
That would be different for Livingston.
Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.