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Padilla eyes DeMartini's seat on Board of Supervisors
Daniel Padilla is not letting his recent defeat for a Ceres City Council seat end his political ambitions. If anything the defeat of the lifelong Ceres resident has energized him to become a candidate for the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors District #5 seat in the June election.

"What prompted me to run is that the public's confidence and trust in government is very low," said Padilla. "We need educated, working class citizens that genuinely care about the people in our community to serve as elected officials."

The incumbent supervisor - Westport area farmer Jim DeMartini - said he will run for re-election. He was first elected to the Board in 2004 and re-elected in 2008.

Padilla, 32, is theming his campaign as a representative of the working class and a native of Stanislaus County whose priorities are economic diversity, education, protecting water and renovating infrastructure.

"Our high school drop-out rates are high, college graduation rates are low, and our economy focuses mostly on the agriculture industry," said Padilla. "These are major contributing factors to why the San Joaquin Valley is one of the poorest regions in the United States of America." He added that Stanislaus County needs a "more diverse economic base that includes professional, manufacturing, and industrial jobs. Our economy is stagnant because the agricultural sector does not create enough jobs. We need commercial and industrial development to balance out the residential boom of a few years ago. Our local development impact fees and state regulations make it very difficult for new and existing businesses."

Padilla is a civil engineer - licensed since 2004 - who is a water resources engineer with Central Valley Engineering in Modesto. He has also been a civil engineer with GDR Engineering in Ceres and an assistant civil engineer for the city of Lathrop.

"I have a very applicable skill set that combines water resources engineering and public administration," said Padilla. "I also have experience working for and with public agencies. I am confident that I can help make this county more effective, efficient, and equitable."

On Nov. 8, Padilla lost his bid for City Council, coming in last place in a three-man race with 1,208 votes. He lost to the winner, Mike Kline who amassed 1,310 votes and fell behind to incumbent Guillermo Ochoa, who lost his seat with 1,278 votes. After the election, Ochoa charged that Padilla engaged in "dirty tricks" during the council campaign by misrepresenting the facts to Latino voters. Specifically, Ochoa said Padilla sought the support of Latinos - who typically vote for Democrats - by referencing Ochoa's Republican party affiliation even though City Council is a non-partisan office. Padilla, said Ochoa, told voters he was a registered Democrat.

Padilla told the Courier after the election that he has "always been a Democrat." However, County Clerk Lee Lundrigan confirmed that Padilla was registered to vote as a Republican on April 27, 1999 and stayed a Republican until he re-registered as a Democrat on July 22, 2011.

Prior to November's election, Padilla only voted three times in 21 elections.

DeMartini, 58, said he is not surprised that he has an opponent but added "I'm surprised this guy (Padilla) is because I don't know anything about him."

The supervisor said he expects to spend $80,000 in the race and has $60,000 on hand. He said he's enjoyed strong support since taking on the job in 2005. He handily defeated challenger, Mayor John Fantazia, in 2008 when he took all 80 precincts in District 5 and 72 percent of the overall votership.

Padilla expects he will need between $70,000 and $90,000 to fight DeMartini.

DeMartini said he maintains a hectic schedule to keep in touch with District 5 communities of Ceres, Patterson, Newman, Crowslanding, Vernalis, Grayson and Westley.

"I have been around the district and I keep a very busy schedule. I go to virtually all the city council meetings, also in Newman and Patterson. I regularly visit all department heads. I have a meeting almost every night. I am especially interested in land use, transportation, and protecting agriculture and water rights. I serve on 12 different committees."

DeMartini has won the endorsement of all five members of the Ceres City Council.

Padilla earned his bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from CSU Fresno in 2001 and a master's degree in Public Administration from California State University, Bakersfield in 2010. The candidate and his wife, Araceli Padilla, are raising two sons, Damian and Daniel Alonzo.