On Wednesday, September 12th, approximately 50 community members joined together at Covenant Village as Turlock City Council Candidates Steven Nascimento, Sergio Alvarado, Incumbent Mary Jackson, and Incumbent Amy Bublak shared their views and opinions in a public forum organized by the Turlock Action for Business Political Action Committee, associated with the Turlock Chamber of Commerce.
The public forum began with each candidate providing a three-minute opening statement to the audience, followed by a question period. The moderator, Mike Lynch, provided the questions to the candidates, allowing them a minute and half to answer each question.
Something out of our local candidates’ control as a legislator, but quite relevant to the local funding, is Proposition 30; the governor’s tax initiative that the public education system is heavily dependent on. Bublak, Nascimento, and Alvarado all stated that they were against the proposed new tax that people will be voting on in November.
“I am against it, for the very reason that California keeps continuing to tax,” stated Bublak. “I’m not against education, but I am against this tax.”
Jackson, however, stated that with four children attending public schools, and a dream to have them attend a California State University or a University of California, she supports Proposition 30. Although she supports the initiative, Jackson also stated there needs to be a change within the State ballot process as a whole.
Topics also included prioritization of city expenses, outsourcing, city growth and expansion, infrastructure, and crime.
Jackson stated that in regards to outsourcing, there is no evidence that it is necessarily cost effective and believes that it hinders local control. Nasicmento stated that public safety is a high priority in regards to prioritization of city expenses, and that certain projects within the planning and building department could be outsourced when development is slow.
“We want to encourage Parks and Recreation programs, and we need to continue those things,” stated Nascimento. “But at some point we need to have a serious discussion with the residents about what our priorities are because there’s not enough money for everything.”
Bublak stated her opposition to outsourcing and also stated that with the current budget, which she voted against, the City included too many ‘luxury’ items.
“We added what I would consider luxuries,” stated Bublak. “Such as more travel time, lobbyists, etc. Luxuries are secondary to necessities.”
Alvarado stated that outsourcing should be a last resort, and only necessary when city workers cannot adequately perform the tasks needed.
Alvarado remained consistent with his platform, reiterating his opposition to new taxes, and the need to set aside money in the General Fund budget solely dedicated to road repairs.
“We need to put money in the general fund aside for roads specifically, instead of waiting for taxes,” stated Alvarado.
Bublak agreed with Alvarado regarding putting money toward roads, if the city was fiscally sound.
Nascimento also expressed that road improvements should be a priority, however, stressed the importance of using local funding as well as state funding by becoming a ‘self-help county’.
“We need to be more adamant on the ½ cent sales tax,” stated Nascimento, in regards to the ½ cent sales tax initiative that appeared on a previous ballot that would have qualified Stanislaus County as a self-help county, thus allowing the county to acquire more State funding specifically for road improvements. “I don’t like new taxes either, but I’d like to see those taxes being spent within our community.”
Jackson also believes that a road tax needs to be considered.
Candidates Steven Nascimento, Sergio Alvarado, and Councilwoman Mary Jackson shared their belief that southeast Turlock needed to be a priority in redevelopment.
“If we do not redevelop south Turlock, it will be south Modesto for the rest of my life,” stated Jackson. “We have ignored that area for maybe 50 years. There’s land, communities, and schools and we need to make it vibrant again.”
“I grew up in south Turlock, and it’s a tough neighborhood,” stated Nascimento. “The city has not invested in that area. We’ve seen grocery stores turned into dollar stores, and if we encourage residential development in south Turlock, then we’ll see a turn around in those neighborhoods.” He also stated that new shopping centers should be placed in the south Turlock area.
Alvarado specified that the city should not grow past Taylor Road, should not build houses west of freeway 99, and should not use agricultural land for growth development.
Councilwoman Amy Bublak, who voted against the recent General Plan at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, believes that the City should have chosen to build northwest of Freeway 99.
“We could’ve built on the west side [of the 99], and it didn’t have to be residential,” stated Bublak. “It’s going to take 30 years anyway to get to the west side, meanwhile we have to come up with the funds right now for the south east side.”
In regards to water supply and costs, and the proposed Surface Water Treatment Plant, which would treat surface water to drinking water standards, Nascimento stated that he believed the City would be capable of receiving state and federal grants to help with the $250 million price tag.
“While the City of Turlock would pay $70 million for the treatment plant, it’s the only option we have, because the groundwater won’t be there in 10 years.”
Councilwoman Amy Bublak stated that in regards to water costs, those who clearly have a higher water usage rate should pay for the amount of water used. Councilwoman Mary Jackson and candidate Sergio Alvarado also stated that there should be help from state and federal grants throughout the process of developing the proposed Surface Water Treatment Plant.
The candidates were each asked to share their top accomplishments in the next four years should they be elected. Candidate Steven Nascimento included a significant reinvestment in downtown, large manufacturers to the Turlock Regional Industrial Park, and new retailers to Monte Vista Crossings. Incumbent Mary Jackson included a balanced budget, paying back the reserve fund, a second industrial park, and focus on the downtown area. Candidate Sergio Alvarado also mentioned a balanced budget, bringing ‘destination tenants’ to Monte Vista Crossings, such as Ikea, increasing the sales tax revenue and investing in downtown. Incumbent Amy Bublak stated that the City needs to focus on the youth and senior citizens of Turlock, by providing more places of interest for them, road improvements, and making Turlock the City that all other cities within the area aspire to be like.
Each candidate also shared their top financial supporters of their campaigns. Sergio Alvarado stated that David Fransen was his only financial supporter; Amy Bublak mentioned Mark Hall, Ramsen Piro, and Matt Swanson; Steven Nascimento top supporters include both his parents and his in-laws, along with his own contributions; and Mary Jackson noted Steve Smith and John & Priscilla Miles.
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