With all the candidate filing deadlines past, the three races for Ceres City Council have attracted a total of seven candidates.
In the Ceres City Council District 1, incumbent Councilman James Casey and Todd Underwood will be in competition.
The District 2 City Council race has two candidates – Paula Redfern and Rosalinda Vierra. Robert Gobble took out papers to run but did not return them.
In the District 4 council race, Daniel Martinez, John Osgood and David Carreon are verified as candidates.
Underwood, 43, will square off with incumbent Casey who seeks to be re-elected. Casey was elected in a special election to fill the District 1 seat in September 2021.
Raised in Ceres and an Army veteran, Underwood said his candidacy doesn’t come out of dissatisfaction with the way Ceres is being governed but more out of a desire to be involved in government. He does, however, have concerns about Ceres becoming like other cities with lesser living conditions.
“I’m ex-military so why sit on your butt and complain when we’re Americans, we were given the right to stand up so that’s one reason why I’m running,” said Underwood. “If you’re going to get into politics you have to start somewhere.”
Underwood is currently a telecommunications installer working in the Bay Area.
“What better place to learn how to get in politics than Ceres. It’s a great city… and a great place to raise a family and most of us would like to keep it a great place.”
Casey has lived in Ceres since 1974 and has owned and operated Casey Moving Systems in Ceres since 1995. An Army veteran from 1968 to 1971, Casey was elected to the Ceres City Council on August 31, 2021 to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Channce Condit.
Vierra, who is a member of the Measure H Citizens Oversight Committee and the Stanislaus County Economic Development Action Committee, moved to Ceres in 2002 from Modesto after she began working for Bronco Winery. Since 2012 she has owned Party Helpers, a small business in Ceres.
Vierra said she wants Ceres to remain “a great little city.
“We all want a safe community, and an economically strong community,” she said. “I am running for City Council for those reasons; to serve my community, represent my neighborhood and bring a new, fresh perspective to the council. I think my experience, as a mother, community servant, homeowner, and small business owner – plus my education and specialized training – allows me to bring a positive mindset, open mind, and new perspective with fresh ideas to the Ceres City Council.”
Vierra said she wants Ceres to have an adequate number of police and code enforcement officers. She would also like to see CPD reinstate its Street Crimes Unit and explore the possibility of Ceres having a Community Health and Assistance (CHAT) program like in Modesto “so our officers can focus on higher priority crimes, and traffic related issues, while trained specialists and clinicians assist with mental health calls.”
Redfern has been planning a council run for three years but a death in the family delayed her candidacy.
“My thought was once Linda Ryno decided not to run again that I was going to run for office,” said Redfern, who noted that she and Ryno shared similar views on stricter blight eradication and code enforcement.
Redfern has been a lifelong resident of Ceres except for the three years she moved away in her 20s.
“I care about what happens to our city,” said Redfern, whose work experience has included 9-1/2 years as a security officer at Ceres High School, a Community Service Officer with Ceres Police, and code enforcement officer in Ceres, Hughson, Waterford, Merced County and now Modesto.
Redfern wants to see code enforcement strengthened in Ceres, saying it’s an important issue for all Ceres residents. She also wants to see more development on the west side of Ceres.
“We don’t even have bike paths down Service road and Morgan Road for all the kids going to Central Valley High School. Bike lanes would help.”
Daniel Martinez, a member of the Ceres Planning Commission, is a verified candidate for the District 4 seat occupied by appointee Mike Kline.
Martinez, 34, has been a member of the commission since his appointment last year. He previously ran for City Council in 2020, a race that went to Couper Condit. Martinez earned associate degrees in Communications, in Social and Behavioral Sciences and Language and Rational, all from Modesto Junior College. He is employed as a quality auditor for SunOpta Aseptic in Modesto.
Osgood had been appointed to an empty council seat in November but on the evening he was to be sworn into office the council rescinded the appointment due to a firestorm of protests over controversial remarks he made on his podcast, Forgotten Liberty Radio. Wendy Byrd of the NAACP publicly charged that Osgood had practiced “hatred, bigotry, misogyny and racist terminology which makes specific ethnic and gender groups feel demeaned.”
Neither Osgood nor Carreon responded to the Courier’s request for statements and background information.
In the city of Hughson, Mayor George Carr is unopposed for a four-year term while five candidates are seeking two council seats presently occupied by Michael Buck and Harold Hill. Hill is not running.
Hughson still elects its councilmembers at-large. Candidates are Julie Ann Strain, Alan McFadon, Tyrel Voss, Randy Crooker and Heather Sigala.
Three seats are opening on the Hughson Unified School District. Incumbents Randee Harcrow (Area 2), Randy Heckman (Area 4) and Mark Foss (Area 5) are all running unopposed.
All three incumbents on the Keyes Union School District Board of Trustees are running unopposed. They are: Jimmy Emmons Sr. (Area 2), Jeff Reed (Area 3) and Wesley A. Greene (Area 5).
Three full-term seats on the Keyes Community Services District board of directors are up for grabs this November. They are being pursued by directors Johnathon Parker, Ronald Reforma and Michelle Bernal. No candidates have filed for the short term.
Three seats on the Monterey Park Tract Community Services District board are up for grabs with no opposition for incumbents Dean Riddle, Shirley Martinez and Bettie J. Yelder.
The Ceres Fire Protection District board has two openings but only one candidate, farmer Robert Rensted. The district is in charge of fire suppression services for the rural areas adjacent to the Ceres city limits. The small district contracts with the Modesto Fire Department for service. The short term has no candidates.
The Hughson Fire Protection District board of directors has three open seats – a full term and a short term. Incumbents Miguel Oseguera and Gus Villarreal are seeking re-election unopposed while appointed incumbent Mark Hughes is running for the short term with no opposition.
Two candidates are seeking the Turlock Irrigation District Division 2 seat which covers Ceres. They are Wayne Zipser and farmer David J. Yonan, both Ceres residents.
In Division 3, which covers west of Highway 99 in Ceres all the way to the San Joaquin River, Joe Alamo is running unopposed.
Incumbent board directors Ed Amador and Ross Lee are unopposed to stay on the Westport Fire Protection District.
Also in November, Ceres voters will be electing a new state Assemblyman, state senator and congressman.
In the June primary, voters in the 22nd Assembly District 22 sent Republican Juan Alanis and Democrat attorney Jessica Self to a runoff in the Nov. 8 primary election. The district includes Ceres.
In the 4th State Senate District two Democrats are headed to the Nov. 8 runoff election. They are Tim Robertson and Marie Alvarado-Gil who edged out six Republicans.
California voters will be deciding if Gavin Newsom should continue being governor for the next four years or replaced by Northern California Republican rancher and state senator Brian Dahle.
The last day to register to vote for the November election is Oct. 24.
All active registered voters will receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the election.
County elections office will begin mailing ballots by Oct. 10.
The ballot will also include:
• 7 ballot propositions;
• Statewide candidates for U.S. Senate, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, Member of State Board of Equalization, State Superintendent of Public Instruction;
• U.S. Representative in Congress, State Senator, State Assembly Members;
• Supreme Court justices, as well as other local candidates and local measures.