What Does It Take To Lead Turlock? Let’s Figure It Out

As lawn signs pop up like wildflowers around the city, we are reminded that another mayor’s race approaches. Take note: This race will sketch out the city’s path forward, shape our fiscal strategy, set forth a business development plan, address the problems of our homeless population, and, hopefully, recognize that we must strengthen our community’s human and physical infrastructure.

In short, it could define our city’s future.

As voters consider the qualities they believe a mayor should have, they would do well to remember something the late President John F. Kennedy said: “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

Anyone can run for public office, but not everyone has the ability or willingness to listen and learn. First and foremost, leadership is about understanding what the community needs, listening to what people are saying and then listening some more. The desire to listen is a unique and special quality that far too few people running for office possess.

Over the next three months, let’s ask ourselves whether each candidate can truly lead, listen and execute. Challenge ourselves to read between the lines, uncover the truth and decide whether we think they are sincere. Does this person have the capacity to grow with the position, to admit when they are wrong, and to modify their position when necessary?

We need a leader who will not just talk about problems, but who will tackle issues that most people see as insurmountable. Does this candidate back his or her words with actions?

A major factor in politics is transparency. Will the next mayor lead Turlock with an open forum so that everyone can hear what is being said and have an opportunity to ask questions?

What about courage? True leaders must embrace openness and welcome public input.

Why is the person running for office and why now? Is he/she outlining a plan? Has the candidate worked on issues of importance in other positions, inside and outside government?

Far too often, elected officials look right past the person with whom they’re speaking to see who is standing behind them. Do you think the candidate talks with you and not over you?

Does the candidate have a track record of valuing the thoughts and ideas of city employees?

Our fire and police force do an outstanding job. Do the candidates have a safety agenda? Are they telling voters how to make Turlock safer and how much it will cost? Where will they find the money to pay for it?

Turlock’s elderly population is growing. Numerous children in our communities are enrolled in Medi-Cal, and we face low-income populations who have few choices. What strategies has the candidate offered to address the needs of senior citizens and children? The poor? The homeless? Are those solutions feasible?

Finally, our community is a melting pot of citizens from across the globe. Our leaders have a responsibility to create an environment that is safe, respectful and considerate. During this election, think about these principles, form an educated opinion. Then vote.

Finally, be accountable and proud of the person we elect mayor of Turlock.

This is an incredible community. This mayor’s race will define its path forward. It is important to our economic future, and I hope to each of us as well.

modesto bee