Eileen Wyatt-Stokman, a former Ceres Unified School District board trustee and child welfare department employee, has thrown her hat into the ring in the June contest to become District 5 county supervisor.
Wyatt-Stokman, 58, is retiring from the county position in March, which frees her to run against incumbent Supervisor Jim DeMartini, a Westport area farmer, without a conflict of interest. He is seeking his fourth term.
"I appreciate his years of service and I think it's time for him to move over and give someone else a chance," said Wyatt-Stokman.
It's anticipated that the mayor of Patterson, Luis Molina, may also run in the race. The election would be decided in June if one of the candidates receives at least 50 percent of the vote plus one. Finishing with less means the election would be thrown to a November runoff.
"It's been in the back of my mind for about three years," said Wyatt-Stokman. "I've been praying about it and thinking about it."
District 5 encompasses Ceres, Newman, Patterson and Westley.
With $3,200 as a campaign starting point, Eileen said she is running for a number of reasons, including reversing what she has said a degraded work culture with the county.
"I'm running just to offer to give the opportunity for some unique insights that I have as a county employee," she said. "I'm running largely on just the realization that things are not good in our county as far as our workforce. The county's one of the biggest employers in the county but our workforce has been watered down so much, especially in social services and mental health services and probation areas because of the huge turnover in people. We're known as a training ground."
County workers have low morale, she said, because of pay that is not competitive with other agencies and staff development has fallen by the wayside. She said her department has not received a raise in nine years and that she is retiring at the same pay level as in 2007. If elected she would like to push for changes to the county's human resource policies to give clerks a chance to rise up within the organization.
"It's become so deteriorated over the years that people actually kind of feel sorry for you if they hear you work for the county," she said. "I don't think it has to be that way. I think we need to treat our county employees as well as we treat our citizens. I don't know who to point the finger at but I know that things can get better and I would like to be a part of that."
She wants to fight urban sprawl and supports funding for the Altamont Corridor Express rail project being brought into Stanislaus County.
Wyatt-Stokman has been with Stanislaus County for 18 years and has served as a job developer, a social worker for the elderly and disabled and ending her service as he foster youth education liaison, steering children in the foster child program toward attendance at four-year colleges and universities. She has a bachelor's degree in Organizational Communication from California State University, Stanislaus. Before the county hired her she was a San Jose Mercury News advertising account representative.
"I know that delivery of our services could be a lot better too. When you have a workforce that's just tired and beat up the delivery of service is not at its best. We've been so short of social workers that for a while they were working six, seven days a week."
Eileen also stated her belief that the Board of Supervisors, which is made up of all white men, needs to be more diverse. The last woman to serve on the board was Pat Paul who left in 2004 when she was defeated by Bill O'Brien.
"I'm not afraid to speak my voice and a lot of times I'm the odd man out at work. I'm very transparent, I'm a good diplomat and I'm not afraid of working with men. I was the first female in a department of 110 men at the San Jose Mercury News press room."
A Ceres resident since 1992, was a member of the CUSD board from 1998 to 2006.
She is married to Nick Stokman, a former dairyman. She belongs to Soroptimist International of Ceres and St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Modesto.