The past three mayoral races in Ceres have been boring with no opponents challenging incumbents. But with Chris Vierra announcing he won’t run again, next year has all the markings of an interesting political race.
The last time a mayor’s race was contested was back in 2003 when DeLinda Moore defeated Ken Lane. With the incumbent mayor bowing out next year, speculation is rife about who on the council will seek the job as well as those outside.
Unlike members of the City Council who now are elected to serve in four specific districts within the city, eligibility to run for mayor is restricted only to the city limits.
Councilman Bret Durossette said he’s planning to run for mayor next year, which rules out a re-election bid for his Council District 3 seat up for grabs the same election. District 3 covers northeast Ceres, including areas east of Moffet Road as well as Eastgate.
“Right now, as it stands, I’m going to run for mayor,” said Durossette. “The City Council dynamics is obviously different with Ken (Lane) being gone. I think with the experience I have on the council – I’ve been on the council for over 10 years – it would be a good thing for Ceres. At the end of the day, I’m going to live here, I’m going to grow old here. There’s going to be many more mayors and councils after my time. I’ve just been blessed with the relationships that I’ve made with the city staff.”
Durossette, who was appointed to the City Council in 2008 after the death of Rob Phipps, has been a Ceres High School teacher for 25 years and coaching for 29 years.
“I have some endorsements of some former state senators and ex-mayors,” said Durossette. “I need to really start getting out now and let people know what my intentions are. It’s probably a little too early to know exactly who’s going to run but I’m sure in about eight to 10 months from now I’ll have a better feel for it.”
Councilwoman Linda Ryno, who was re-elected in November to another four-year term, said she is mulling a run for the office as well.
“It’s early, but I certainly haven’t ruled out the possibility of a mayoral run in 2020,” said Ryno yesterday.
Vice Mayor Mike Kline said on Monday that he won’t seek the mayor’s office if Durossette runs, preferring to run for re-election next year. Kline represents Council District 4, which covers a block around Smyrna Park southward to Highway 99 and leaping across the freeway to take some areas of southwest Ceres, including Marazzi Lane, Sungate Drive and Daisy Tree.
Councilman Channce Condit, who joined the City Council in December, could also be plotting a run. He ran unopposed for the District 1 seat in November. Before his election Condit told the Courier that he wouldn’t rule out running for higher office but said he just wants to “focus on being the best councilmember I can be for Ceres.”
There’s been scuttlebutt about council outsiders running, including former county supervisor Paul Caruso or former vice mayor and councilwoman Lisa Mantarro Moore.
Vierra has increasingly expressed frustration about being a public official in today’s social media climate.
“I just read all the stuff people put in social media and it’s so easy from the cheap seats to throw out stuff when they only know half the information,” said Vierra. “It’s just disheartening.”
Vierra has served on the Ceres City Council since 2003 and mayor since 2011 which he considers “has been long enough.”
He said that knowing he has limited time on the council and that he won’t run again has caused him to speak his mind a little stronger which he said is “maybe not a good place to be.”
The City Council recently engaged in its annual Goal Setting Workshop where the council was educated by department heads about what they are seeking to move forward.
“For the most we adopt the goals and direction that we had done a couple of years ago,” said Vierra. “It wasn’t like a traditional goal setting where it’s like what do we want to change from what we’re doing. I think everybody was happy with what we came up with a couple of years ago. Obviously public safety is big, continuing to develop the downtown area, the development of the Gateway project, the development of the remaining parks, getting the fire department to where they have less overtime, economic development and just having a safe and vibrant community.”