Gary Soiseth, a local farmer, Modesto Irrigation District employee, and former California State University, Stanislaus instructor, has formally announced his candidacy for mayor of Turlock.
Soiseth is a third generation family farmer from Turlock, who grows almonds for Blue Diamond. He also works as a water and energy regulatory analyst for MID.
But Soiseth’s career has taken him to the White House, and across the globe.
“Each phase in my career – from my time with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and the Army to the White House to the Association of California Water Agencies to my farm in Turlock – has prepared me to lead our city into a stronger and better future,” said Soiseth. “Turlock has never stopped being my home and my motivation.”
During the past four years, Soiseth has worked in Afghanistan for both the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Defense. Soiseth focused on agricultural development and economic growth in the Kandahar region of Afghanistan, home to some of the heaviest fighting during the War in Afghanistan.
“Throughout my deployments, I approved and managed tens of millions of dollars of redevelopment funds that stabilized the most volatile part of the world,” Soiseth said. “It was demanding and rewarding, but equally as important, I was also a proven watchdog for wasteful and ineffective spending.”
Soiseth has been awarded with the Superior Civilian Service Award, the Global War on Terrorism Civilian Service Medal, and the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service by the U.S. Department of the Army. He has earned the “Tom Stefani” Distinguished International Service Award and the Superior Honor Award for Extra Effort from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal, and the Meritorious Honor Award from the U.S. Department of State.
Soiseth has also served as an adjunct professor of Political Science at CSU Stanislaus, a field representative for then-U.S. Rep. George Radanovich, a federal relations clerk for the Association of California Water Agencies, and an intern in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs.
As Turlock Mayor, Soiseth says he would find “sustainable infrastructure solutions” to address groundwater issues, improve highway interchanges, and fix streets.
He also plans to implement economic development policies to encourage business expansion and attraction. At the same time, he says he would protect businesses and farms from residential encroachment.
Soiseth says he will also implement campaign contribution limits, create a scholarship fund for local CSU Stanislaus students, and improve relationships with other regional leaders.
Soiseth has the support of former four-term mayor Curt Andre, who last held the mayorship in 2006.
“Gary is an exceptional leader that I have known for 15 years,” Andre said. “My generation has had its chance to fix the challenges that Turlock faces. It is time to let the next generation step forward and lead – and Gary is the right man for the job.”
Soiseth holds a Masters of Public Policy in agriculture and water resources from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, a graduate degree in agribusiness management from the Indian Institute of Management in Gujarat, India, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
Soiseth will face off against incumbent Mayor John Lazar, who informed TurlockCityNews.com last week that he intends to seek re-election. Lazar, a real estate agent, has sat on the Turlock City Council since 1992.
Lazar has been Mayor of Turlock since 2006, when he defeated then-Turlock City Councilmember Kurt Vander Weide and TurlockCityNews.com publisher David “DJ” Fransen. Lazar retained the mayorship unopposed in 2010.
Soiseth will officially announce his candidacy at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at Latif’s Restaurant, 111 N. Golden State Blvd., Turlock.
For more information, visit www.soisethforturlock.com.