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Pandemic eclipses focus on local politics
• Three seats on Council up for grabs in November
Election 2020 art

The preoccupation with the coronavirus and the state’s response by ordering residents to stay home and distance themselves when they do show up in public may have diverted attention from the upcoming campaign season for municipal offices.

The crisis could be but a memory by summer, catching some by surprise about the candidate filing period, which starts in three months. But the coronavirus scare could change the traditional methods of campaigning like door knocks and campaigning and public appearances at gatherings.

Ceres will be electing a new mayor and two councilmembers on Nov. 3. Mayor Chris Vierra has said he is not running for re-election, which opens the possibility that members of the council will seek that office. Councilman Bret Durossette has made it known that he plans to run.

Vice Mayor Linda Ryno said she had entertained a run for mayor but won’t throw her hat in the ring.

“Prior to the pandemic, I was having discussions with family and close friends regarding the upcoming mayoral election,” said Ryno. “Although I have had many people approach me asking me to run, I’ve decided not to.

“In my opinion, the mayor must be fully engaged in even more than the rest of the council not only the politics of city government, but our community as a whole, reaching out and being available for so many different community events and meetings. Visibility and availability go hand in hand. I am proud of the work I do as a councilmember and I wholeheartedly believe I’ve represented all of the citizens of Ceres, but I also recognize I cannot devote the amount of additional time away from my family to be the kind of mayor our great community deserves.”

The four-year council terms of Durossette and Mike Kline are also up for grabs this November. Kline, who just lost his bid in the District 5 supervisor’s race, has indicated he will seek re-election.

“I’m definitely going back to the council race. That’s a for sure thing unless lightning strikes me or I get killed,” said Kline recently.

If re-elected this would be Kline’s third term.

He said he’s heard he may be challenged by Ceres resident Justin Quigley who has maintained a “Justin Quigley for Ceres City Council” Facebook page since September 2019. Quigley ran against state Assemblyman Adam Gray in November 2018 and was defeated in a 71.3 percent to 28.7 percent outcome.

Durossette’s council seat also expires this year. If he runs for mayor he’ll be unable to seek re-election to his council seat.

Complicating city politics is the fact that, under the fear of a lawsuit from minority advocates, the city went to district elections in 2015, a move which has reduced competition. No longer are citizens allowed to run for any open council seat; they may only seek the open seat assigned to their geographical area. Opponents say district elections have suppressed candidate numbers from materializing when seats open up as opposed to at-large seats. Now the possibility is real that no candidates show up in certain districts, a candidate is uncontested and shooed-in with a few votes or some districts too crowded. In 2018, that reality played out when Channce Condit from protected from potential opponents living outside of Council District 1 and he was elected unopposed.

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.

Bret Durossette’s Council District 3 covers northeast Ceres, including areas east of Moffet Road as well as Eastgate.

The candidate nomination period will open July 13 and end August 7. That filing deadline will be extended until Aug. 12 if the incumbent in the race does not file to run.

The Stanislaus County Registrar of Voters is conducting a free workshop intended to provide prospective candidates with an overview of the candidacy filing process. Topics will include Fair Political Practices Commission filing requirements, candidacy forms, candidate statement of qualifications and filing deadlines. The workshop is scheduled for Saturday, June 27 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Stanislaus County Veterans Center, 3500 Coffee Rd #19 in Modesto. Contact Candidate Services at 525-5237.

Vote by mail ballots are mailed out and processed Oct. 5-27.

On Election Day America will be electing a president and Supervisor District 5 residents of Stanislaus County will be electing Jim DeMartini’s replacement. The choice is between Ceres City Councilman Channce Condit and Ceres City Attorney Tom Hallinan.

Hallinan has vowed to step down as Ceres City Attorney but the same law firm contracting with the city would supply a new attorney.

Should Condit win the race, the City Council will have to fill his unexpired term by appointment or hold a special election. Condit will have served just two years of his four-year term by December.

Ceres City Council district map
This map of Ceres shows where Council District boundaries lie. The blue area represents District 1 which is represented by Channce Condit. The pink area is District 2, represented by Linda Ryno. The yellow area, District 3, is represented by Bret Durossette. The green area is District 4, represented by Mike Kline. The mayor is a member of the City Council but elected at-large.