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Four seeking two four-year Ceres City Council seats
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Bret Durossette

Incumbent City Councilman Bret Durossette is seeking re-election as his way of wanting to continue his service to the community "where I work and raise my family."

The 44-year-old council hopeful said he hopes to "continue to work to help Ceres through these difficult economic times and continue to give my community the sense of belonging that I grew up with as a child in Ceres."

A resident of Ceres for 40 years, Durossette has served on the Ceres City Council since he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of deceased Councilman Rob Phipps in 2008.

He earned his bachelor's degree in Physical Education, and teaching credential and his administrative credential, and has taught at Ceres High School since 1994. He is three classes shy from earning his master's degree, and will be finishing by the end of the school year.

Voters, he said, can continue to depend on his dedication and commitment.

"I not only suggest that I will be strong on the council, I live it. I educate myself regularly on the issues and I stay well informed with citizen concerns. I also am committed 100 percent to serving and I understand the seriousness of this position. I can promise the community they will see the same level of dedication and commitment that I have shown in the last four years on the council."

Durossette said his council priorities include:

• Increasing businesses in Ceres;

• Continue to maintain the high level of service of the Public Safety Department;

• Be concerned with the level of city services and programs to "ensure we are serving our residents' needs during times when they too are struggling to make ends meet."

Durossette said he always makes "it a point to be very well informed on all matters coming before the council and feel as though I need to ask numerous questions to ensure we are getting the full picture.

"I have been proactive to ensure that our public safety department has endured only limited cuts but none to sworn officers. If elected, I will continue to serve the community and participate in many of the programs that we offer.

"I am very proud that I live and raise my family in Ceres and I take great pride in attending many of the events sponsored by the various Ceres organizations that showcase what a great community we have."

One of his council focuses will remain on youth.

"As a coach, I understand the necessity of keeping our youth as a focal point to our community as they are our future. I take great pride in my community and what is has to offer."

Durossette is a member of the Ceres Lions Club, the Ceres Street Faire Committee and Ceres Youth Baseball. He and wife Angela are the parents of Dominic 15, Dalton, 9, and Cheralyn, 8.

"My parents were very active in the community and my mother was a tireless volunteer for the children in Ceres. I am very proud to continue that tradition as I raise my children here and am deeply involved in their education and extracurricular activities."

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Mike Kline

Mike Kline is no stranger to politics in Ceres. He has unsuccessfully thrown his hat in the ring to get on the Ceres City Council and Ceres School Board but is hoping now to finally add "a new voice on the Ceres City Council to start asking the tough questions, and put Ceres first."

The 53-year-old Kline - a resident of Ceres for 46 years - has served as a member of the Ceres Planning Commission since his 2007 appointment. Kline voted against the Walmart Supercenter /Mitchell Ranch Shopping Center project earlier this year but said he wants to "create an environment that makes Ceres an attractive place for new businesses to locate, and then go out and convince those businesses to do just that."

"Unquestionably, jobs and economic development are the most important issues facing the city right now," said Kline. "Ceres is facing unprecedented unemployment and economic depression. My top priority will be to put the people of Ceres back to work."

Kline is promoting his so-called "Hire Ceres First" economic plan to recruit "good neighbor" businesses.

"The time has come for Ceres to begin supporting "good-neighbor" businesses that will provide long term employment for Ceres Citizens - not Modesto, not Turlock, not Tracy, but Ceres."

He said the first task of the council and city staff "should be to encourage new businesses that are attracted to Ceres to hire locals. Kline stated that "businesses that receive help from Ceres taxpayers should hire Ceres residents. To me, that's a simple concept. On the City Council, I will stand for Ceres and insist that any business receiving support from Ceres tax dollars hire Ceres residents first."

Such a plan, however, is legally questionable.

He expressed desire to have the city do "what we can do to make sure our citizens are prepared to get those jobs, by working with adult education on resume building and interview skills, encouraging local businesses to have job fairs, and creating a central place for local job postings."

Ceres has such a center operated by the Ceres Unified School District.

Kline, a sales account manager with Tony's Fine Foods, believes Ceres needs to adopt a more aggressive strategy in enticing new business.

He says his strengths for the office include "leadership, tenacity, and an unyielding determination to do the work necessary to restore Ceres to economic prosperity."

Kline was born in Ceres, lived here until he was six and moved back at age 13 and has remained. He graduated from Ceres High School in 1976.

He and wife Tammi have grown children in Diane, Amy and Brian. They are also grandparents to Nichole, 11.

Kline is a member of the Ceres Lions Club.

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Guillermo Ochoa

Incumbent Ceres City Councilman Guillermo Ochoa, 51, wants to continue serving the city to continue with the progress he feels has been made.

"I'm running due to my conviction to improve economic growth, keep a balanced budget, improve recreational opportunities and stand firmly behind public safety," said Ochoa.

"I will remain tenacious in my convictions to improve the city in all areas. During the course of my six years on the council, I have proven responsive to all who have requested my assistance, and I have strived to identify problems independently."

Ochoa feels major issues facing Ceres include the need for continued economic development, continued gang suppression and community outreach to needy citizens.

As having supported the Walmart Supercenter project (Mitchell Ranch Shopping Center), Ochoa wants to attract more business to Ceres to expand the tax base.

Ochoa also pledged to continue to support the half-cent sales tax "so we can maintain a strong police department that is able to fight gang activity and able to fund our school resource officers at both high schools."

As a councilman, Ochoa said he will continue to strive to maintain a balanced city budget and reserves that are a minimum of 25 percent of the general fund.

He also vows to continue to fight Sacramento to re-establish redevelopment agencies and "get our money back that was inappropriately taken by Governor Jerry Brown."

Ochoa supports the maintenance of a strong relationship and participation in a Joint Powers Association with the cities of Modesto and Turlock on the path towards development of a proposed Regional Surface Water Project to forego the high expense of expensive wellhead treatment resulting from ever tightening state regulations.

While serving on the council, Ochoa supported the building of the Ceres Community Center, the development of five new city parks, the renovation of Costa ball fields in Smyrna Park and the completion of the Whitmore interchange and overpass.

Ochoa lived in Ceres from 1972 to 1982 and then moved back in 1998 and has lived here since. He earned a bachelor of science degree in Business Administration and Economics from St. Mary's College. He holds a PHR Certificate in Human Resources.

Mr. Ochoa has served as a Human Resources manager for several large corporations including Campbell Soup, Chef America, Diamond Walnut Growers, Yellow Roadway Corporation and ConAgra Foods. He is currently self-employed as co-owner operator of Garcia's Market in Empire.

A councilman since being appointed in December 2005, Ochoa represents the city of Ceres on Stanislaus Council of Governments (StanCOG ), the Tuolumne River Regional Park Commission (TRRP) and the Whitmore Home Preservation Committee.

"My six years of experience on the council - combined with my professional skills as a business owner - make me a fully prepared candidate for my current seat."

Ochoa belongs to the Hispanic Leadership Council and has belonged to the Ceres Chamber of Commerce in past years. He also serves as a member of the Success Capital organization, which lends SBA money to small businesses.

Ochoa and wife Martha have two children, Christian Ochoa, 18, and Kimberly Ochoa, 16.

Besides his council accomplishments, Ochoa said he is most proud of becoming "an inspiration to my children by being active in my community and them, in turn, doing the same by taking leadership roles in their schools and also in their involvement in community events."

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Daniel Padilla

Daniel Padilla, a lifelong Ceres resident since his birth 31 years ago, is wanting to give back to his community and believes City Council service is the way to fulfill it.

When asked specifically why he is entering politics for the first time, he replied: "Because Ceres is my home, and it is near and dear to my heart. I want the citizens of Ceres to experience a high quality of life, and I want to raise my boys in a safe and friendly environment. In addition, Ceres needs a competent and highly qualified council to help manage and lead the city."

Padilla is a civil engineer - licensed since 2004 - who is currently the Water Resources Engineer at Central Valley Engineering in Modesto. In the past he was a civil engineer with GDR Engineering in Ceres and an assistant civil engineer for the city of Lathrop.

"I have government work experience both as a public agency employee and as an engineering consultant for local, state, and federal public agencies such as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, California Department of Water Resources, Arvin-Edison Water Storage District, and Belridge Water Storage District."

He also has an Emergency Management Certificate from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

"As far as work experience and education, I feel that I am by far the most qualified candidate," said Padilla. "I have 10 years of civil engineering experience designing and managing projects such as water, sewer, storm drain, transportation, and irrigation systems. I also have a formal education in public management, policy analysis, management, leadership, grant-writing, and organizational change. In short, I have a unique skill set that blends experience in technical engineering and knowledge of public administration."

Padilla earned his bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from CSU Fresno in 2001. He also earned his master's degree in Public Administration from California State University, Bakersfield in 2010.

The candidate believes the unskilled labor force is one of Ceres' major issues. He would like to see Ceres fight for a satellite college center "for our children who otherwise might not attend college."

"Ceres has a population big enough to sustain a satellite community college center or vocational institute for our residents who otherwise would not continue their education," said Padilla. "I will help create and lead a Ceres Community College Foundation to conduct a feasibility evaluation and to gauge the interest level of the community."

To combat what he perceives as a lack of citizen participation in the community and local government, Padilla pledges to conduct periodic, casual meetings in Ceres parks to encourage involvement. He feels the "formal council meetings are a bit intimidating to most citizens."

Among his short-term council goals are helping to set up more sports leagues, after-school programs, and positive/motivational outlets.

He also wants to Ceres grow its business base.

"Ceres needs nice sit-down restaurants such as an Applebee's, Chili's, or Cheesecake Factory. Downtown Ceres has been relatively stagnant for way too long. The west side of Ceres needs a grocery store and other commercial development so area residents don't go to Turlock and Modesto to spend their money."

He also feels that Ceres needs a hospital. Memorial Hospital Ceres closed in 1993 when the industry changed to managed health care.

The candidate and his wife, Araceli Padilla, are raising two sons, Damian, 3, and Daniel Alonzo, six months old.

"I am very proud of being a husband and a father to my kids, and being a positive influence on my family and friends."