Stanislaus County leaders hear a lot of criticism. It comes with the territory for elected officials like Terry Withrow, who make difficult decisions affecting 555,600 residents.
Even so, Withrow said he didn’t know what to make of profane comments stuck to the door of his business office over the weekend.
Withrow said he saw the two-page verbal attack after attending mass Sunday morning with his wife and going to his accounting firm in Modesto to work on tax returns shortly after 7 a.m.
“Being on the Board of Supervisors requires thick skin,” Withrow wrote in a Facebook post. “I guess haters are always going to hate. Our board will continue to fight to do the right thing for our community and I appreciate all those who join us in the quest to make things better.”
To paraphrase the message stuck to the door, the author claimed the supervisor had disrespected Salida and “always will.”
It went on to pose four questions related to the unincorporated town of Salida:
- Where’s the money for law enforcement for Salida?
- How many grocery stores have to burn down?
- How many drug deals have to occur?
- How many automobile burnouts have to occur?
Someone left the hit piece Saturday night or early Sunday. Withrow, who is busy due to income-tax season, said he left the office at 6:30 p.m. after working Saturday.
“I don’t have any idea who did this,” Withrow said. “It’s a cowardly act to put a sign on my door. Come to see me face to face.”
The complaint about fire protection refers to a July 2017 blaze that destroyed the wood framing of a grocery store under construction on Broadway Avenue.
Withrow said Monday that funding for deputies is a countywide issue, and problems with fires, drug trafficking and aggressive driving are not unique to his supervisorial district, which includes Salida, Wood Colony and west Modesto.
The supervisor said people are welcome to voice concerns about county services -- and often do -- at monthly Salida Municipal Advisory Council meetings. Withrow added he’s available by phone, and county supervisors keep appointments to meet with constituents at their offices at Tenth Street Place in downtown Modesto.
The incident occurred two days before Withrow’s State-of-the-County Speech, set for Tuesday, but he doubted the timing was relevant. He is serving as Board of Supervisors chairman this year.
Supervisor Jim DeMartini, who was last year’s chairman, said people are welcome to make comments near the start of the governing board’s meetings.
Sticking an angry message to the door of a supervisor’s business “is not the proper way to do things,” he said.
DeMartini said he has not noticed county politics are any more vicious these days. To some extent, applications for commercial cannabis permits have created tensions at recent county government meetings. Withrow’s narrow re-election victory in November came after some negative campaigning by his camp.
“The election ended a few months ago and I just don’t get it,” Withrow said. “Everything we said in the election was based on facts. It was all factual information.”
Withrow’s Facebook post about the papers stuck to his office door generated 70 comments. One suggested the supervisor’s neighbors, in the rural area west of Modesto, were unhappy about Legacy Nursery’s application for two cannabis permits. Withrow has a client who’s related to a co-owner of Legacy, which proposes to operate nurseries at two sites on California Avenue, south of Maze Boulevard.
Withrow has openly acknowledged the conflict of interest and said he won’t participate in a March 19 hearing on the Legacy permits.
“This whole pot farm operation coming into our neighborhood is unwanted,” one resident wrote. “I understand you recused yourself but in my opinion that’s not the proper procedure in supporting your friends and neighbors.”
Leng Power, who serves on the Salida MAC, came to Withrow’s defense in a Facebook post. “You’ve been extremely present to Salida,” she wrote. “It’s a shame someone thought to leave a sign when we have a monthly forum that you always make yourself available to. We appreciate all you do.”