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Two council races still open for candidates

Ceres City Councilman James Casey has competition for his District 1 seat this fall with the passing of the Friday candidate deadline to make the ballot.

Casey is being challenged by Todd Underwood.

Meanwhile, candidate deadlines have been extended to today for the two other open council seats since the incumbents did not file.

In the District 2 City Council race, Paula Redfern and Rosalinda Vierra are verified candidates while Robert Gobble has taken out papers to also run. He must submit nomination papers by today to become a candidate. The filing deadline was extended until 5 p.m. today because the seat is vacant and has no incumbent.

In the District 4 council race, Daniel Martinez was verified as a candidate as of Tuesday. John Osgood submitted his papers to run yesterday and the Elections Office is in the process of verifying signatures on his petition. David Carreon took out papers on August 9 but had not submitted them by the time the Courier went to press.

Redfern has been planning a council run for three years but a death in the family delayed her candidacy.

“My thought was once Linda Ryno decided not to run again that I was going to run for office,” said Redfern, who noted that she and Ryno shared similar views on stricter blight eradication and code enforcement.

Redfern has been a lifelong resident of Ceres except for the three years she moved away in her 20s. 

“I care about what happens to our city,” said Redfern, whose work experience has included 9-1/2 years as a security officer at Ceres High School, a Community Service Officer with Ceres Police, and code enforcement officer in Ceres, Hughson, Waterford, Merced County and now Modesto.

Redfern wants to see code enforcement strengthened in Ceres, saying it’s an important issue for all Ceres residents. She also wants to see more development on the west side of Ceres.

“We don’t even have bike paths down Service road and Morgan Road for all the kids going to Central Valley High School. Bike lanes would help.”

Underwood, 43, will square off with incumbent Casey who seeks to be re-elected. Casey was elected in a special election to fill the District 1 seat in September 2021.

Raised in Ceres and an Army veteran, Underwood said his candidacy doesn’t come out of dissatisfaction with the way Ceres is being governed but more out of a desire to be involved in government. He does, however, have concerns about Ceres becoming like other cities with lesser living conditions.

“I’m ex-military so why sit on your butt and complain when we’re Americans, we were given the right to stand up so that’s one reason why I’m running,” said Underwood. “If you’re going to get into politics you have to start somewhere.”

Underwood is currently a telecommunications installer working in the Bay Area.

“What better place to learn how to get in politics than Ceres. It’s a great city… and a great place to raise a family and most of us would like to keep it a great place.”

Casey has lived in Ceres since 1974 and has owned and operated Casey Moving Systems in Ceres since 1995. An Army veteran from 1968 to 1971, Casey was elected to the Ceres City Council on August 31, 2021 to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Channce Condit.

Daniel Martinez, a member of the Ceres Planning Commission, is a verified candidate for the District 4 seat occupied by appointee Mike Kline. Kline is not running for the seat so the deadline will be extended to Aug. 17.

Osgood was appointed by the council to an empty council seat in November but it was rescinded before he could take office due to a firestorm of protests over controversial remarks he uttered on his podcast, Forgotten Liberty Radio. Wendy Byrd of the NAACP charged that Osgood had practiced “hatred, bigotry, misogyny and racist terminology which makes specific ethnic and gender groups feel demeaned.”

Two races for the Ceres Unified School District are closed and two remain open until today.

The terms of Mike Welsh (Trustee Area 2), Valli Wigt (Trustee Area 3), Lourdes Perez (Trustee Area 5) and Betty Davis (Trustee Area 6) all expire this year.

Real estate agent Cynthia Ruiz is thus far the only candidate for the Trustee Area 2 seat occupied by Mike Welsh. Welsh is planning to leave California for Nevada and is not running again.

In Trustee Area 3, Wigt has a challenger in Mariah Jaquez who is an administrative assistant and student.

School Board Trustee Lourdes Perez is the lone candidate for Trustee Area 5 with the nomination period closed.

Trucking business owner David McConnell is thus far the only candidate interested in taking over for Davis who is retiring from the Area 6 seat.

Trustee area maps are available for viewing online by visiting the website, clicking on the Board of Trustees tab at the top, then on Trustee District Information, then on Trustee District Assignment Information.

In the city of Hughson, the two-year term of Mayor George Carr is up for grabs as are the council seats of Michael Buck and Harold Hill. Council candidates thus far are Carr, Julie Ann Strain and Alan McFadon. Tyrel Voss and Randy Crooker have picked up papers to run for council.

Three seats are opening on the Hughson Unified School District. Incumbents Randee Harcrow (Area 2), Randy Heckman (Area 4) and Mark Foss (Area 5) are all running unopposed.

All three incumbents on the Keyes Union School District Board of Trustees are running unopposed. They are: Jimmy Emmons Sr. (Area 2), Jeff Reed (Area 3) and Wesley A. Greene (Area 5).

Three full-term seats on the Keyes Community Services District board of directors are up for grabs this November. They are being pursued by directors Johnathon Parker, Ronald Reforma and Michelle Bernal. No candidates have filed for the short term.

Three seats on the Monterey Park Tract Community Services District board are up for grabs. Guaranteed seats will go to candidates incumbents Dean Riddle, Shirley Martinez and Bettie J. Yelder.

The Ceres Fire Protection District board has two openings but only one candidate, farmer Robert Rensted. The district is in charge of fire suppression services for the rural areas adjacent to the Ceres city limits. The small district contracts with the Modesto Fire Department for service. The short term has no candidates.

The Hughson Fire Protection District board of directors has three open seats – a full term and a short term. Incumbents Miguel Oseguera and Gus Villarreal are seeking re-election unopposed while appointed incumbent Mark Hughes is running for the short term with no opposition.

Two candidates have appeared thus far for the Turlock Irrigation District Division 2 seat which covers Ceres. The candidates are Wayne Zipser and farmer David J. Yonan, both Ceres residents.

In Division 3, which covers west of Highway 99 in Ceres all the way to the San Joaquin River, Joe Alamo is thus far the lone candidate.

Westport Fire Protection District has two open seats on its board of directors which have attracted the candidacies of incumbents Ed Amador and Ross Lee.

Also in November, Ceres voters will be electing a new state Assemblyman, state senator and congressman.

In the June primary, voters in the 22nd Assembly District 22 sent Republican Juan Alanis and Democrat attorney Jessica Self to a runoff in the Nov. 8 primary election. The district includes Ceres.

In the 4th State Senate District two Democrats are headed to the Nov. 8 runoff election. They are Tim Robertson and Marie Alvarado-Gil who edged out six Republicans.

California voters will be deciding if Gavin Newsom should continue being governor for the next four years or replaced by Northern California Republican rancher and state senator Brian Dahle.

The last day to register to vote for the November election is Oct. 24.

All active registered voters will receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the election.

County elections office will begin mailing ballots by Oct. 10. The ballot will include:

• 7 ballot propositions;

• Statewide candidates for U.S. Senate, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, Member of State Board of Equalization, State Superintendent of Public Instruction;

• U.S. Representative in Congress, State Senator, State Assembly Members;

• Supreme Court Justices, as well as other local candidates and local measures.