How long have you lived in Turlock and what is your occupation?
I have lived in Turlock since 2001 and I currently do business under my own name as a personal trainer.
Why are you running for Turlock City Council and when did you start planning your campaign?
I have wanted to run for a seat for years now. However, the circumstances were ripe this time and I started getting into the nitty-gritty of it in March-April of 2014. I have a lot of support from the community and my goal is to keep Turlock shining as the beacon of light that it already is. I want to make sure future generations are afforded the same opportunities that I had, if not better ones. Turlock is my home and because I live here I'm going to be actively engaged in making it a better place to live.
What do you see as the primary duties of a councilmember?
The council's duties include taking into consideration the constituents' ideas, questions, concerns, complaints, and suggestions; taking into consideration the ideas of businesses operating or wanting to operate in the city; setting local policy and passing local laws; establishing land use policies via the General Plan and zoning regulations; setting or guiding policy that will be administered by the city manager and city staff; working with the city's various committees and commissions to hear comments and recommendations; and administering redevelopment. The city council is essentially the guide and liaison between the various parts of the community.
What are your main goals if elected to Turlock City Council?
I want to work with the rest of the council to ensure that we continue to keep Turlock's funds managed shrewdly, while making any improvements needed based on sound business principles. I also want to work with the rest of the council to make sure the city grows economically but does so wisely. I also want us to find ways to retain our intellectuals so that we can tap into all of our gifted and talented individuals for innovative and efficient ideas for the improvement of our community on all levels.
List 3 Top Priorities:
1) Economic development (includes preventing retail leakage while attracting or establishing more high-tech/high-paying jobs)
2) Preventing intellectual leakage (retaining our educated citizens, especially the youth who graduate from our higher education institutions)
3) Leveraging the two aforementioned areas to work toward alleviating or solving the water crisis.
Why do you believe you’re the most qualified candidate for Council?
The issues Turlock is and will be facing are not all the same issues we faced in the past and those that are, are far more pressing now. These issues will require a multifaceted approach with lots of creative thinking as well as leaders who are willing to ask the tough questions that are often not asked when "group-think" occurs. I have a variety of education and life experience that qualifies me for this seat. This includes:
- Living in Turlock now for over 13 years and being active within the community; I stayed while others left
- Being the son of a patriotic family
- Being a student of history and a student of the teachings of the Founding Fathers
- BA in Political Science (minors in Public Administration and Speech
- Communication) with a 3.96 GPA - CSU Stanislaus (2006)
- 5 years in the banking industry (majority spent dealing with business banking,
- where I met local business owners and heard their questions, comments,
- concerns, and suggestions)
- Education in Allied Health and a plethora of health & fitness-related certifications
- 5 years of experience as a personal trainer and in the health & fitness industry
- Sole proprietor of my own practice as a personal trainer
- Being a part of the same issues we all face and being able to empathize with
- others and understand the everyday life of an American
- Active attendee of city council meetings
- An open-mind that allows me to listen to different perspectives and the humility
- to admit that I do not know everything
- Commitment to community values
- Support from the community (including academics)
- A strong personality that is willing to go to bat for the people
- A supporter of the US Constitution
Key endorsements (up to 5):
Stanislaus County Republican Party
Do you support Measure B, a half-cent sales tax increase to support fixing Turlock roads? Why, or why not?
As I have stated before, the poor state of the roads is no secret in our town. The roads do need improvement and I commend the proposed aim of Measure B. However, while I offered conditional, caveated - and reluctant - support for this measure waiting for certain things to be clarified (e.g. scheduling of road improvements if and when a county-wide tax passes, status of funds collected from other taxes, etc.), I can assuredly say after the revelations of the past month involving the mailers that I cannot offer my support for it. This is beside what TurlockCityNews.com has revealed in terms of the campaign finances. With that said, regardless of the success of Measure B in November, we need to take a look at the roads issue in depth and I believe that will include my previous comments regarding taking a proactive approach to the matter. We need to focus on sound, sustainable economic development to grow our general fund and then budget it properly so that we can repair these roads. Other possibilities should also be discussed by the new council.
What are your plans to address the concerns of the homeless population? How would you combat the increasing homelessness issues in Turlock?
The homelessness issue is two-tiered. First, we have those who genuinely have fallen on hard times and this is where agencies and faith-based/non-faith based charities have done a good job helping people get back on their feet. Some further improvement can be made in terms of promoting awareness of these services available to people and this will require community involvement.
However, we also have another element amongst the homeless population and that includes people who have no desire to change and/or are criminals - some being the result of the "realignment" issue California has been faced with. This latter population is made up of people who mostly are not even from this area and it is a known fact that other cities have individuals who are actively shipping them to our city. This is where strict enforcement will need to come from the city. We also need support from the community in not enabling them to take route in our community.
Most political candidates state that economic development and growth is a priority, but how exactly do you plan to grow Turlock’s economy and what are your thoughts on the job market here in Turlock?
I don't have thoughts so much as I have facts and the facts show that we have a relatively low median household income that is fast approaching poverty levels due to inflation and an increase in cost of living. Part of this is out of our hands due to what's happening with the State of California and the region in general. The other part is in our hands. So here are my suggestions and the rest of it is something I would love to work with the rest of the Council for us to address together:
- Let's continue the positive trend set by the city in approving the new Blue Diamond facility (1 year and 3 days from start to finish and it was done byx-the- book, which is good timing in this arena)
- Let's further streamline codes and make things easier on businesses who want to operate in Turlock, otherwise we will lose them to other cities. We don't need to add to California's already inflated bureaucracy. There are individuals who have caught on to this. We just need to keep working on it.
- Lower operating fees on our business otherwise they will want to do business elsewhere.
- Use our liaisons to petition businesses to relocate here or set up operations here.
- Ensure that we attract those businesses that accent our culture here in the valley, which include Ag - the lifeblood of our economy.
- A recent study was conducted that stated that the US now has the highest percentage of individuals ages 18-25 living with their parents that it has had in years. In our city, most of these young adults are graduates of the three higher education institutions in our area (MJC, CSU Stan, UC Merced - all of which offer a variety of great programs). With that much talent, support from their parents, and very little risk, it only makes sense to tap into this segment of the population for the establishment of new businesses in Turlock that may be responsible for the technological innovations and breakthroughs that will change the planet. With the City of Turlock funding the Turlock Chamber of Commerce, it would make sense to use the liaison powers of the Chamber to facilitate this process (others can help as well). Let's support and help our youth. The city should give incentives to these individuals, especially those whose ideas have great potential. One type of incentive includes waiving fees.
Turlock, as well as the rest of California, is experience a major drought, what are your plans for the City of Turlock dealing with water management? What is your position on the sale of waste-water to the Del Puerto Water District? Do you believe the City should move forward with construction of the surface water treatment plant as per a long stalled agreement between the TID, the City of Turlock, and other cities?
I would encourage more dialogue with TID. Rather than looking at them as an opponent, I would encourage open communication with them. No one entity has the answer to this problem. It will take a coordinated effort between various entities both public and private to solve this problem and part of that will include trying to tap into the minds of our intellectuals for innovative methods. I support the sale of waste-water to the Del Puerto Water District. I also support surface water treatment plants. If we don't focus on a solution here and now, there will only be more reactionary measures later and we all know how that goes. Let's plan ahead now and make sure our residents (especially farmers) get the water they need so that Ag and our economy do not further suffer. At the same time, let's look to technology for new, more innovative methods so that we can save more water.
The City Council is currently discussing labor contracts with the City Manager and City attorney, the only two positions hired by and work for the Turlock City Council. If elected, how important will it be that these two key positions are approved by you?
Considering I hope to be elected to a council seat and will be working with them, I think it is important that I/we have a say.
With so much attention being brought up about government spending due to a proposed tax increase to fix Turlock roads, do you believe recreation is a service that should be funded and provided by government?
The City of Turlock has done a great job with the variety of recreational programs that are offered to our youth and our families. I just wish more members of the community
would get involved. The services are already there. We don't need to apply any further taxes. Just get involved.
Transparency has always been an issue for elected officials, as they commonly state to represent their constituents. Seemingly more and more communication has been an issue with society’s move toward Facebook and social media as its main source for information. How do you plan to communicate to, and more importantly with, the citizens of Turlock?
Those who know me, know that I am a man of the People. I love my community and it is not hard to reach me. Feel free to add my campaign page on Facebook or email me. I love the diversity in our community and as much as I can, I will try to attend community functions and events I may be invited to. Even now I am not a stranger to this. I believe if we all work together and hear each other out with patience and respect, we can improve our community. The Founding Fathers encouraged unfettered discourse and I support that.
My Candidate Statement (as it will appear in the voter guide):
I have been a Turlock resident for 13 years and have made it my home. I’m running for council because I want to afford future generations the same opportunities I had, if not more.
I have a diverse background and various skill sets. I attained a B.A. from CSU Stanislaus, with a major in political science and minors in public administration and speech communication. In the business world, I spent 5 years in banking, a part of which focused on small and medium business in our area. I developed relationships with these businesses and heard their needs and suggestions.
I left banking to pursue my passion of health and wellness, working as a personal trainer. Over a short time, I attained further education, certifications, and specialties in Pilates, yoga, and nutrition. I utilized all of my previous knowledge to recently start up a small business in the same field.
I would like to work with the council to drive economic development; prevent retail leakage and the loss of our educated youth to larger cities; and combine all of that to spur a surge in higher paying jobs thereby reducing behavioral health issues and crime.
I humbly ask for your vote.
Editorial Note 10/13/14: Donald Babadalir has revised his stance on the Measure B road tax.