Letters to the Editor

Generating some heat over Turlock’s top job

Being mayor isn’t a beauty pageant

You’ve got to hand it to the Turlock mayor. He can raise money – note all his costly signs. And he can campaign. Consider all those who say they support him but can’t explain why, except “he seems like such a nice young man” or “he took time to attend our event.”

Faced with hectic lives, the nuts and bolts of government and qualities of leadership escape most Turlockers while schmoozing and pandering flatters them. But money and patter don’t guarantee a great leader. A big bank account and a stump speech won’t necessarily produce one.

Turlockers have had almost four years to rate this mayor. In year one, Mayor Gary Soiseth stomped on a public institution, the Turlock Certified Farmers Market, to boost an unproven vendor related to one of his biggest donors.

Since then he has run off veteran employees including two city managers, a police chief, a fire chief, a city attorney, a planning director and a public works director. A lawsuit by one former manager targeting mayoral behavior cost the city $39,000. But he also botched the search for a new city manager, wasting a year, before having to start over.

These matters didn’t benefit from his fundraising and campaign skills but all were hindered by his poor judgment and micro-managing style.

By statute, the mayor is not a dictator – just one of five council votes. But for most of the last four years councilmembers allowed him to become a despot by often voting in lockstep. And this included councilwoman Amy Bublak, until she decided she wanted to be mayor herself.

This election is neither beauty pageant nor schmoozing contest. Turlockers need to take an interest “in the fine print” and hold all candidates accountable. There’s much more to operating our city government than cozying up to donors, hanging out with college kids and putting up signs.

Bob Crawford, Turlock

Soiseth is a true leader on water

In 2015, Turlock Irrigation District unanimously approved a 50-year water sales agreement with the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority that will provide up to 30,000 acre-feet of surface water annually for the citizens of Turlock and Ceres. Voting on this agreement in the third year of a drought was difficult, but making tough policy decisions for the best interest of our region is why I ran for TID board.

SRWA recently broke ground on the first stage of the water project, and I am happy the majority on the city councils have kept pushing forward to realize a future in which our region’s ground water will benefit.

Our community will need to make difficult decisions and investments a sustainable groundwater basin. The drinking water project is the type of collaborative regional project needed in the future.

I was proud to support Gary Soiseth when he ran for Mayor in 2014. He was focused on our region’s water supply issues and brought the discussion around the surface water plant to a mutual agreement. I appreciate Gary’s dedication and leadership as we make the investments vital for our future.

Joe Alamo, Turlock

Soiseth took long way around on roads

In 2014, residents of Turlock had the opportunity to make significant progress in repairing and maintaining our roads with the passage of Measure B – raising almost $6 million per year with all of the money staying local and dedicated to repairing Turlock streets. Then candidate for mayor, Gary Soiseth, expressed his opposition to Measure B and he promised he had a “better plan.” The countywide Measure L was approved in 2016 – the same half-cent sales tax but with only 50 percent going to fix Turlock roads – far short of what is needed.

Two years after passage of Measure L, the city of Turlock was one of the last cities in Stanislaus County to announce its first Measure L project – the West Main Improvement. The cost was double the original estimate and will require all of the current funds, pushing back additional street repairs two years.

Mayor Soiseth’s “clear and bold leadership” remains flawed when it comes to fixing Turlock roads. He is correct in saying “no more kicking the cans down the road.” That’s not be an option because of all of the potholes.

Jim L. Theis, Turlock

Bates can put Turlock back on track

In less than four years, Turlock has gone from one of the best-managed cities in the Valley to one known for contentious council meetings (Farmer’s market fiasco, increasing water rates, city manager search, etc.), inability to attract and retain key employees, and lack of fiscal responsibility as evidenced by continued budget deficits and declining cash reserves.

As a result of Mayor Gary Soiseth’s intimidating leadership style, which has created a hostile work environment, Turlock has seen a number of key personnel leave – including two city mangers, the police and fire chiefs, director of development services, a senior planner and a city attorney. Turlock can’t stand another four years of this mayor. It is time for a change that will bring proven leadership and skilled management back and return Turlock to its position as the best community in the Valley to live, work, and raise a family. Vote for Brad Bates for mayor of Turlock – again!

Mike Brem, Turlock

Bates will bring civility back to city

I have been a resident of Turlock and a farmer since 1965. I supported and helped Brad Bates on his campaign when he ran for mayor of Turlock in 1982. I saw then a young man with a small amount of political experience – he chaired the Planning Commission – but a strong desire to serve the community where he had grown up and where he planned to live.

In a time of contentious and sometimes divisive city council meetings, Brad was respectful, effective and efficient. He restored a level of civility and decorum to the process of governing and serving the citizens of Turlock. Today, our community needs these same characteristics, and Brad is again running for mayor. Brad has more experience, a broader perspective and a desire to preserve and restore a community that has provided a good quality of life for residents.

I am proud to have supported Brad then, and now have the opportunity to do so again. Join me in voting for Brad Bates for Mayor of Turlock.

Charles Crivelli, Turlock

Brad will be better for Turlock

Turlock needs better leadership! Brad Bates can help make the needed changes. In March 2016, I was amazed and dismayed to watch the city’s well-run volunteer organization, Turlock Certified Farmers Market, get kicked out of downtown by the city council’s 4-1 vote. We know this change had a negative affect on the entire commerce of the downtown. I’m not interested in more votes like this one. Brad wants to bring back the Turlock Certified Farmers Market to downtown.

Over the last 4 years, I have been very disappointed to see the substantial decline in the condition of our roads! I must choose carefully where I drive to avoid hitting potholes! That reminds me of being in a third-world country, which Turlock resembled before now. Brad is committed to improving our roads.

I favor a “TIN CUP” (Time is Now, Clean Up Politics) ordinance, which requires Council members to recuse themselves from votes affecting substantial donors. Led by the mayor, a majority of current council voted to defeat this ordinance in 2014. Brad favors the ordinance.

Allan Merrill, Turlock