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Ryno may have company in council race
• Gene Yeakley picks up nomination papers for District 2
Gene Yeakley.jpg
Gene Yeakley, seen here at a 2015 candidate's forum, is interested in Linda Ryno’s District #2 City Council seat.

Linda Ryno, the only incumbent on the Ceres City Council who is seeking re-election in the Fall, may soon have company. Melvin “Gene” Yeakley has picked up nomination papers to run for her council seat.

If he turns in his papers by the Aug. 10 deadline, Yeakley will become a City Council candidate for a second time. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for City Council in 2015 – which was the last at-large ballot year in Ceres – and finished last place out of four candidates with 8.23 percent of the vote. He was bested by candidate Don Cool (15.75 percent) and victors Bret Durossette (38.48 percent) and Mike Kline (37.01 percent).

Sixty-seven-year-old Yeakley, a Ceres resident since 1989, regularly attends council meetings, often expressing concerns 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. The Army veteran also alleged that the Ceres Lions Club illegally posted a sign on private property to advertise its annual January breakfast.

Ryno has picked up but yet returned her nomination papers to run for re-election for her District 2 seat.

Ryno worked for 29 years as an administrative secretary for the Ceres Planning Department and was elected to the City Council in 2013. Her four-year term, originally scheduled to end in 2017, was extended a year when the council lengthened terms to meet a state law seeking to align municipal elections with gubernatorial or presidential elections. Ryno has been an advocate of strengthening police services, increasing employee pay following cuts enacted during austere budget years, and has taken a hard line against a proliferation of marijuana dispensaries, debt spending and blight conditions.

She and husband Sam Ryno have lived in Ceres since 1983.

On July 24 Channce Condit became the first candidate to become official for the open District 1 council seat. As of Tuesday, he was the only candidate for the seat occupied by Councilman Ken Lane, who is not seeking re-election. Condit is a staff member for state Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced. 

The municipal political season started July 16 with prospective candidates for Ceres City Council district seats #1 and #2 able to pick up nomination papers to begin a political run. Until Aug. 10, prospective candidates may take out, circulate and file nomination papers. If neither incumbent fails to file by August 10, the filing period will be extended until August 15 – sure to be the case in District #1. Prospective candidates should schedule time with City Clerk Diane Nayares-Perez to obtain nomination papers and other election-related information.

Candidates must be a registered voter residing within either of the two recently-formed council districts. Prospective candidates should consult a council district map to determine what council district they reside in before pondering a jump into city politics.

Voters may only vote for council candidates who are running within the district they reside.

Nomination papers must be signed by no less than 20 and no more than 30 signatures of registered voters living within the city limits. Candidates are advised to get more than 20 signatures in case the county learns that “nominators” are not registered to vote. The city clerk handles the process nomination papers but the Stanislaus County Elections Division conducts the election.

This is the first year in the history of Ceres that voters will be electing councilmembers on the basis of districts rather than the city limits. That means only persons living in Council Districts 1 and 2 may run for City Council on Nov. 6 this year; the remainder must wait for their district seat to come open for a run.

Only the office of mayor will continue to be elected on an at-large basis. That seat is up for grabs in 2020. The office of vice-mayor is typically appointed among the councilmembers on a one- to two-year rotation.

City Clerk Diane Nayares-Perez has set up a link to a candidate sign-up chart on the city’s website, which may be viewed at

In 2015 the Ceres City Council allowed Ceres voters to decide on district elections in fear of an expensive legal challenge to at-large elections which have typically been filed by minority advocate groups. City leaders were not especially receptive to the concept of council districts but agreed to the measure. Voters approved the measure by a margin of 1,079 votes (66.28 percent) to 549 votes (33.72 percent).

District #1 consists mostly of the northwest section of Ceres west of Moffet Road. The district includes everything north of Evans Road, everything north of Caswell Avenue and a finger that reaches down to Whitmore Avenue to take in Mary Avenue.

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 map was carved out in 2015.

District 3 and 4 seats will be open in 2020.

District 3, now occupied by Bret Durossette, covers northeast Ceres, including areas east of Moffet Road as well as Eastgate.

District 4, now occupied by Vice Mayor Mike Kline, 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.

In Hughson, voters will be deciding on three members of the City Council, including the mayor. The terms of Mayor Jeramy Young and Councilmembers George Carr and Harold Hill expire this November. The council terms of Mark D. Fontana and Ramon Bawanan expire in November 2020.

Voters in the Hughson Unified School District will be electing three trustees to their School Board. The terms of Area 2 Trustee John Luis, Area 4 Trustee Randall Heckman and Area 5 Trustee Cindy Cunningham-Gipp expire this year.