Lusodeans Gary Soiseth and Brad Bates will face each other in the Nov 06 elections for mayor of Turlock, California, where residents of Portuguese origin represent 7.4 percent of the population.
The race “is very hot and negative,” Gary Soiseth, the current mayor who is running for re-election. “My opponents have been very vocal, there is a call of names and negativity,” said the politician, son of a Portuguese mother and a Scandinavian father.
On the other side is Brad Bates, grandson of a Pico Azorean, who decided to return to political life to oppose the re-election of Gary Soiseth. “He was not the ‘mayor’ people expected,” he told, arguing that the current mayor was “inappropriately” and “intimidating” in the management of the city.
The race also has the candidates Jaime Franco and Amy Bublak, a current member of the city council.
Gary Soiseth’s intimidating reputation, which the 34-year-old denies, has been the subject of discussion in the four-candidate debates. Brad Bates argued that the mayor’s attitude led to the consecutive exit of two professional managers from the city in two-and-a-half years, has been vacant for about a year.
The two Lusophone players also disagree on the management of the city’s budget and on the allocation of funds for the construction of a Tuolumne water treatment plant, with an estimated cost of US $ 288 million.
“This ‘mayor’ is increasing the deficit and does not seem to care about real numbers,” Brad Bates. “Everyone has a right to his opinion, but he is not entitled to his own facts,” he said.
Gary Soiseth said that one of the priorities of his re-election platform would be “to look at ways of recovering resources through new sources of revenue”, which could take the form of a value-added tax.
Without official polls, estimates indicate, according to Brad Bates, that the race will be disputed between him and Amy Bublak, but the current ‘mayor’ is likely to be re-elected if he wins the vote of the undecided. However, he said that “there is a great dissatisfaction with the ‘major’.”
Soiseth, who received the support of 28 California elected officials, emphasized that the incumbent’s “advantage is relatively small” in local elections, “because the person is held accountable for everything that goes wrong.” Still, he said his campaign “is strong” and said he was confident it would be “successful” in November.
The current mayor also considered that the negative tone of the campaign is due, in part, to the influence of the current environment. “I believe it has become acceptable in our political discourse, from the national level down and on both sides, to say non-factual things and to call names,” he stressed.
Brad Bates, recently retired from his professional activity in the insurance industry, has ensured that his intention is not to continue in political life if he wins this mandate, indicating that he intends only to “get the house in order” and to ensure the end of “an unacceptable way to deal with local governance. ”
Turlock, the second largest city in Stanislaus County, California, has 5,269 people of Portuguese origin, according to the 2010 Census.