Porterville City Council race draws to an end
Election is June 5
Come Tuesday June 5, Porterville voters will cast their ballots in what is arguably one of the city’s most decisive elections.
Three of 11 candidates vying for an open seat on the Porterville City Council will assume office during the dawn of a significant economic growth spurt, anticipated by many with the construction of a new $93 million courthouse, a $68 million county jail, and plausibly a Walmart Supercenter.
“If you’re caught up in it, then this is the most important race there is,” current City Mayor Ron Irish said. Irish, who has been on the council on and off for the last 14 years and did not seek re-election, said the new council is sure to come up against federal and state regulations that will likely delay such projects.
“When I first got on council, I too wanted to get things done in four years, but the things that we’re getting done now, in a lot of cases, are things that we were planning for years and are just coming about,” he added.
Throughout their campaigns, candidates have provided their views on a range of issues, including economic development, public safety, fiscal responsibility, and proper council decorum.
They’ve made their stance known at a number of candidate forums.
Candidate Shawn Cable has said that to bring more business downtown, business owners should create a more inviting and employee-friendly environment and the council should stay out, less a resolution or conflicting code arises.
Candidate David Gong has proposed bringing a farmers market to Main Street to attract new business downtown. He has also been the only candidate to state he believes Measure H funds have been misspent and has, on more than one occasion, pointed to a “good old boy” system running city business.
Candidate Virginia Gurrola has said that she will promote growth and a favorable business climate for downtown Porterville, including one that is bilingual.
Incumbent Cameron Hamilton has said he is in favor of loaning money to privately-owned enterprise and would approve a deficit budget.
Candidate Rodney Martin has said that “factional” and “special-interest” politics have prevented meaningful long-term economic and community development in the city. He has also expressed support for comprehensive immigration reform and has proposed a ban on saggy pants.
Candidates Felipe Martinez, Rae Dean Strawn and Wendy Taylor have said the city should strive to be more business-friendly. Strawn has referred to the current council is a “disgrace” and has proposed the development of a facility like Lindsay’s McDermont Fieldhouse in Porterville.
Candidate Taha Saleh has said the city should discontinue support of the Porterville Chamber of Commerce and has proposed transforming and reusing historic buildings into office and retail space to encourage business development.
Candidate John Simonich has said tough decisions must be made in a tough economy. He has noted available funds should be spent primarily on public safety before parks and recreation.
Incumbent Brian Ward has clearly defended his voting record, saying he has voted to reduce fees for small business, voted against consulting fees, and for a “fiscally sound” budget.
Irish said that despite the significant projects facing this new council, this election is just as important as the rest. What is discouraging, he said, is the “apathy,” from the voting population.
“If they’re not going to keep up with the election it means they’re not keeping up with the city,” he said, noting that it is anticipated the third-place winner will win with less than 1,200 votes. “In a population of 56,000, that’s pathetic. It’s not the politicians who are to blame or the system that is to blame, it’s the people with apathy who are to blame.”