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Breckenridge livens up race for Council
His presence at council meetings and his in-your-face insistence that liberties be preserved at all costs have earned Steve Breckenridge the term "pugnacious pitbull," a term he relishes. Now he wants to add the title of "City Councilman."

Breckenridge entered the political fray last week as the nomination period for candidacies drew to a close. He joins Michael Kline in the race for Ceres City Council as well as the three incumbents all seeking election.

Incumbent Mayor Anthony Cannella is unopposed for re-election. Councilmen Rob Phipps and Guillermo Ochoa are also seeking four-year seats.

Breckenridge, an outspoken maverick who faithfully attends council meetings, filed his candidacy on Wednesday. The 57-year-old electronics technician has made a name for himself in Ceres as a vocal critic of council actions that limit personal freedoms. He said he is running for "self defense," adding he wants to fills a "vacuum if the people aren't going to be there."

"I've been in that room for 17 years and the one thing that I have noticed as councils and mayors come and go ... nobody goes to the meetings because nobody cares," said Breckenridge. "In that vacuum the council has contempt for the people's rights. It's endemic of our failure ... the end result is the same: Your liberties get trashed. Each council sits there and chips away at a few of them."

Breckenridge became vocal this year about the council's plans to reserve its right in the future to exercise eminent domain if it so chooses. He also protested the council limiting citizen input at council meetings from 10 to five minutes. And when Louis Arrollo was mayor, he vehemently protested the outlawing of smoking and alcohol consumption within city parks.

About the only time Breckenridge has been absent from meetings was when he's away serving in the state military reserve within the National Guard at Camp Roberts in Southern California.

He moved to Ceres in 1990.

Kline, 49, a former candidate for Ceres School Board, said he is running as a way of giving back to the community.

"I don't really have an agenda and I'm not out to prove a point," said Kline. "The biggest reason I am running is to get a little more involved."

Kline's grandfather, Henry Kline, served as mayor of Ceres from 1948 to 1952.

He is a salesman for Tony's Fine Foods.

Friday's deadline passed with David Rexford and Lonnie Davis not returning their nomination papers for Ceres City Council.

Ceres' voters will be electing a mayor to a four-year rather than two-year term. Voters doubled the length of the term by passing Measure V in the 2006 election.

Ceres voters will also be filling the office of city treasurer, now occupied by Albert Avila. Avila had not filed for re-election. Harry Herbert picked up papers yesterday since the filing period was extended because Avila did not file.

School board candidates

In the Ceres Unified School District board of trustees race, six candidates have evolved for three open seats. They are incumbents Diane Sol, Yvette Nunes and Eric Ingwerson and challengers Faye Lane, a retired Ceres school secretary; Donald McKim and retired teacher Jimmie Kinard.

Races in Keyes, Hughson

Hughson voters won't be deciding who to send to the Hughson Unified School District Board of Trustees. That's because only incumbents Mark E. Harman and James Hudelson have filed and they will likely be appointed.

There is three-candidate race for two seats on the Keyes School Board and a two-person race for the short term. Incumbents Sandra Marchant and Bob Edwards have both filed for re-election on the Keyes School Board and are being challenged by Harinder Grewal, a county agricultural inspector.

Incumbent Keyes trustee Marianne Pietrzyk is being challenged by Henry Benavides.

Five candidates are scrambling for three seats on the Keyes Municipal Advisory Council (MAC). Those seats are presently filled by William Henry Alexander, Davie Landers Jr. and Jeff Reed. All three are seeking re-election and are being challenged by Henry Benavides and Harinder Grewal.

Nobody has filed to run for the Keyes MAC short term.

Four candidates are seeking two seats on the Keyes Community Services District. Appointed incumbent Sidney Moon is running while incumbent Curtis Snell is not. William Alexander, Harinder Grewal and Robert Taylor are also running.

Hughson Fire Protection District board members Kevin P. Voss, Richard Camagna and Doug Humphreys see an end to their terms at year's end. Voss and Humphreys are the lone candidates, leaving a void for Camagna's seat.

An obscure board that oversees fire services around Ceres but not in the city limits, the Ceres Fire Protection District, has two expiring seats - that of Jerry Hancock and Harlen E. Smith.

The small Monterey Park Tract Community Services District in rural Ceres has two seats open this year, that of Sebastian Jones and David McNeir. Both are unchallenged for their seats. Bettie J. Yelder is seeking election to the short term on that panel.

In the Riverdale Park Community Services District, seeking election as directors are Rudy Caro, Diana M. Gonzalez Alvarez and Kelland Murphy. Since there are enough seats for the three candidates, the county Board of Supervisors will likely make an appointment in lieu of an election. Dixielee Swatman is guaranteed a short term because she is unopposed.

The Westport Fire Protection District has three seats expiring this year. They are occuped by Greg Nunes, Mike Evans and Norval Pimmentel. The lone candidate as of Friday was businessman John Kilcoyne.

Hughson farmer Phil Short is going into the Nov. 6 election unopposed for the Turlock Irrigation District Division 1 seat. Short has occupied that seat for numerous years and is usually unopposed.

There will be a TID Division 4 race which voters in the Turlock area will decide. Inumbent Michael Crowell is being challenged by veterinarian Robert Santos.

The South Modesto Municipal Advisory Council has a two-pronged election. Incumbents Raymond S. Castro and Darren Schafer are seeking re-election while John L. Swicegood, the appointed incumbent, is seeking election for the two-year term.

Those who wish to register or re-register for the Nov. 6 electon may obtain a form from a number of locations, including the Ceres Library or the Ceres Post Office. Requests for absentee ballots may be done as early as 60 days prior to the electon. Absentee voter ballots may be requested by phone at the Elections Division, 525-5200, or by going online at