It’s been three years since the last City Council election in Ceres. This year, however, there is only one contested race – in District 2 where incumbent Linda Ryno is challenged by Melvin Eugene “Gene” Yeakley – but even it doesn’t appear competitive.
Ryno was elected to the council in 2013 in an at-large race with two other candidates, amassing 1,573 votes. Yeakley, by contrast, ran an unsuccessful campaign for City Council in 2015 – the last at-large ballot year in Ceres – and finished last out of four candidates with 375 votes, or 8.23 percent. The top vote-getter in the race was Bret Durossette at 1,807 votes while Mike Kline won re-election with 1,713 votes.
Ryno said she is running for re-election because she believes she has “done a good job of representing the citizens of Ceres.
“I study every issue brought before the Council and make informed decisions based on facts, not personal bias,” she said.
Ryno feels that the most important campaign issue should be code enforcement and parks maintenance. “My record the last five years shows that I have shared my concerns with the council and city staff on the unsightly appearance with our city and our parks,” said Ryno. “This budget year, we are finally able to increase staffing for both these divisions, which I believe will show positive results.”
Having served the past five years on the council, Ryno said she is proud of the council “finally being able to have a truly balanced budget and not a budget balanced using deficit spending. Every budget since I was elected, I have pushed for living within our means and this year, we are finally accomplishing that.”
Before she was elected to the City Council in 2013, Ryno was an administrative assistant for the Ceres Planning Department for 29 years. She feels her time with the city has provided her with knowledge of city government and municipal finances and says her “common sense approach, as well as independent thinking help me reach decisions that benefit the majority of our citizens.”
When asked if she felt her campaign will be low key given that Yeakley spent little money in his 2015 bid for the City Council, Ryno said she expects to work just as hard on this campaign as her prior campaign.
Sixty-seven-year-old Yeakley, a Ceres resident since 1989, regularly attends council meetings where he has expressed concern about blight and illegal signage. In the past he has charged that the city has done little to correct problems. In January Yeakley called out unnamed councilmembers for past placement of campaign signs on private property without the owners’ permission.
“I want to see some change and for years the pace of change has been very slow compared to others cities around Ceres,” said Yeakley. “A big part of which is city revenue. I do believe sometimes change of what some call the ‘old guard’ is good.”
Yeakley said he wants to see funding for more police, fire, and code enforcement. He also wants to lure “some type of industry in Ceres to generate large amounts of revenue for all our needs, some industry that will put us on a map and a good route to success.”
He also wants to see Ceres cleaned up and part of his tactic would be have the city reach out and educate “those who do not understand what it is to live in our city.
“Every city has rules. And without them things can go very bad. We need to make more contact with citizens in the individual neighborhoods they live in. Educate them to what it means to be part of our community.”
Ultimately, Yeakley acknowledges, “it is up to the citizens and only the citizens to clean up what we call home here in Ceres. Too much time has passed in Ceres with little neighborhood involvement. If the movement to clean up Ceres does not happen and we do not see our city getting cleaner and more individual pride in our weak areas of Ceres, then what we know as the norm will continue. If things do continue at the pace they have gone for years it will be the blame of the citizens who just do not care. Citizens need to just get involved to make a difference.”lved to make a difference.”
Only those in District 2 may vote in the Ryno-Yeakley race. District 2 mostly occupies newer areas west of Highway 99 with a small portion of the established area east of the freeway near Ceres High School, sandwiched between Evans Road to the north, Whitmore Avenue to the south with zip-zigs along Central Avenue and Sequoia Street to Fifth Street. The area was carved to include the residence of Ryno when the first-ever council map was carved out in 2015.
Voters living in District #1 have only one choice for City Council – Channce Condit who is unopposed to replace Ken Lane. Lane has decided to retire from council service. Condit is a staff member for state Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) who is married to Condit’s aunt Cadee Condit Gray. Channce is the grandson of former Congressman Gary A. Condit and son of former congressional candidate Chad Condit.