Exeter City Council candidate challengers for Frankie Alves, Steve Garver could potentially change after this election
TULARE COUNTY – Two seats on Exeter City Council were on this year’s ballot, and while it’s still too early to call election results, it seems that one council position could see a familiar but new face next year.
Incumbents Steve Garver (District D) and Vernon “Frankie” Alves (District C) ran in this election to keep their seats and so far, it’s unclear whether either of them will hold their position on council. Alves, who has served on council since 2018, is running against challenger Chris Clark, and right now there are only 15 votes separating the two candidates. Alves, who has served on council since 2018, is leading the race with an overall 167 votes and Clark is not far behind with 152 votes out of 319.
Upon learning of Clark’s candidacy, Alves said he welcomed the idea of running against someone this election, as the city of Exeter has had difficulty garnering city council interest amongst the population. He said there have been periods in time where the city has had to search for people to fill council seats due to such low interest amongst the community.
“In all honesty, it’s nice to have somebody interested enough to file papers and run against [me],” Alves said. “To me, that’s how it should be.”
If re-elected, Alves said he would continue operations as he has throughout his four years in council, with a mindset of making sure the city’s financial reserves are secured for the future. He said it is like a “savings plan” for catastrophic circumstances that could hurt the city. In addition to the funds, Alves is interested in attracting businesses to Exeter’s industrial park, like manufacturing and supply businesses. He is also interested in expanding business downtown. He said there are some housing developments in Exeter that should become active soon and he would like to see the process take place.
Overall, Alves said he would be happy to “stay in the league” and continue serving the city of Exeter.
“Even though I am a councilman for District C, I look at being on the council as being a council member for the entire city,” Alves said.
Clark said he feels he has done well this election considering he did not really campaign for it. He said the turnout thus far is both good and bad, because after learning he would have to attend more meetings than expected, he experienced some hesitation on the position due to frequent traveling. Still, this will not deter him from accepting his responsibilities if he is elected.
“If I win, I will make time to do the best job I can,” Clark said. “I’ll find a way to make it happen.”
If he is elected, Clark said he will focus more attention on why some Exeter officers have left to larger cities that offer higher wages. Clark is worried that socialism, leftism and progressivism are “taking effect in the small town of Exeter.” If elected to council, he said he would help find a way to supply funding to police in Exeter.
Another reason Clark took the initiative to run for city council was to show Alves that if someone wanted to run against him, it wouldn’t be difficult to unseat him. Clark’s goal was to “wake him up” and let him know he is still accountable for the city and can be unseated easily. In addition to finding more funding for police in Exeter, Clark said the city’s streets and water system are in disrepair and parks are not properly maintained due to them being contracted and wants to find out why the contractors are not being held accountable.
Meanwhile, for District D, Steve Garver’s challenger Vicki Riddle is taking the lead in the election with 89 votes out of 150 counted. Riddle is an Exeter planning commissioner with plans to keep Exeter’s streets safe by hiring more police officers. Garver started his term on Exeter City Council in 2021, and is a former teacher and baseball coach for Exeter High School. He is currently 28 votes behind Riddle, with 61 votes counted in his favor thus far.
Lindsay City Council
Two incumbents of four challengers for Lindsay City Council put their names on this year’s ballot in hopes of maintaining their positions on council, and so far, at least one incumbent is on track to keep their seat. Incumbent Yolanda Flores, who has served on council since 2018, currently leads with the highest number of votes of all other candidates with 32.2%.
Incumbent Rosaena Arevalo-Sanchez, a Lindsay native who has served on council for some time, currently has the second highest number of votes at 26.0%. She stepped down in 2016 to run for Tulare County District One Board Supervisor but, after an unsuccessful attempt, returned to council in 2018. Close behind Arevaldo-Sanchez is newcomer Elivia Nathalie Jara with 24.0%. Jara is a finance student who wants to serve on council to advocate for needed community resources and provide a new voice to council.
The second challenger is newcomer Julie Grzybek, who thus far has pulled the least amount of votes at 17.8%. The two council members with the most votes will be elected to serve on the two council seats.
Visalia City Council
In Visalia, not much is expected to change for city council, with three incumbents taking a large portion of votes in this year’s election. However, Visalians will see at least one fresh face serving on council this year following the retirement of Councilmember Greg Collins’, who sat on the District 4 seat for 33 years.
Bob Ainley, Emmanuel Soto and Marie Line-Labbee all had their sights set on the District 4 seat. Thus far, Soto, a political newcomer, has taken lead in election votes at 48.9%. Behind him with 36.6% is Bob Ainley and Marie Line-Labbee holds 14.5% of counted votes.
In District 1, incumbent Elizabeth “Liz” Wynn leads the race with 58.6% of votes. Wynn was selected by council last year to fill a vacancy following the sudden death of former vice mayor Phil Cox, and initially had no plans to run for council in this year’s election. She ultimately reconsidered her decision with the development of certain projects in Visalia, which she said could be difficult for a new person to grasp in a timely manner, and opted to run for the council seat and serve out the remainder of the term until the next election in 2024.
Of Wynn’s two challengers, candidate David Farris currently has 32.4% of the overall vote while Justin Bolton accounts for 9.0%.
Incumbent Vice Mayor Brian Poochigian leads an impressive majority of votes in District 3 with 74.5%. His challenger, Heather Carter, currently holds 25.5% of overall votes.
In District 5, incumbent Mayor Steve Nelsen was challenged this year by Kris Korsgaden but is leading the race with a majority of votes at 64.9%. Korsgaden currently holds 35.1% of the overall vote.
Porterville City Council
On Porterville City Council, seats for District 1 and District 2 were up for grabs. In District 1, incumbent Lawana Tate was challenged by Porterville native Raymond Beltran, who received a large chunk of votes at 69% so far.
Tate has yielded 30.9% of overall votes amongst the Porterville community. Also native to Porterville, Tate was appointed to council in 2021 following the retirement of former council member Daniel Penaloza after he received allegations of sexual intercourse with a minor. Tate is a passionate advocate when it comes to aiding homeless communities in Porterville, as well as those suffering from mental illness.
For District 2, Greg Meister leads the race for the council seat at 64.4%. His challenger Jason Gurrola, a 40-year Porterville resident and 28-year manager for the Walmart Distribution Center, has yielded 35.6% of votes.
Farmersville City Council
In Farmersville, four challengers were on this year’s ballot. The three candidates with the most votes will be elected to the three open seats. Of the challengers, two incumbents filed for re-election and, so far, it seems like they are on the road to maintaining their positions with council.
The city’s mayor and incumbent Paul Boyer, who has over 20 years of experience with city council, leads the vote count with 29.2%. Right behind him in second place is newcomer Armando Hinojosa at 28.7%, who could replace former council member Ruben Macareno after he decided not to file for re-election.
Mayor pro tem and incumbent Tina Hernandez is in third place with 23.2% of overall votes and in fourth place is Carrie Ortiz at 19.0%.