Boosting Modesto’s economy and developing a positive business climate are prominent issues of this election.
Ted Brandvold, owner of Commercial Architecture, believes that residents, businesses and other organizations in the community must work together to move the city forward. It is the central theme of his campaign and through task forces and committees, Brandvold hopes to bring those groups into the city’s government process.
“It’s going to take everybody in this city to work in a collaborative effort to change the direction of our city,” he said.
It’s this approach that Brandvold says sets him apart from Marsh.
“I give people hope for change,” Branvold said. “I’m walking precincts here daily, and across the board there’s a stagnation in our city while other even adjacent communities seem to be doing better than us. We have not positioned ourselves for the uptick in the economy.”
Brandvold hopes to eliminate barriers that may discourage businesses form locating or expanding in Modesto. He wants to conduct a full review of development fees he says stifle growth. He also hopes to streamline the permit process for simple tenant improvement projects, saying the current lengthy process deters businesses from expanding.
He also plans to actively advertise Modesto’s attributes to outside companies interested in relocating here.
“We need to be rolling out the red carpet and letting the entire state and nation know that Modesto is open for business,” he said.
Simple aggressiveness is what he believes is needed to bring new business to Modesto.
“What I see as working is putting a team together to go hunt out and find ag technology and ag industry based [companies],” Brandvold said. “If we are the ag center of the world, there should be no reason why those technologies and industries would not want to be here.”
Brandvold believes voters are ready for a change and will elect him based on the ideas he’s presented during the campaign.
“It’s a fresh perspective,” he said. “It’s not more of the same. We cannot keep doing more of the same and expect to get a different result. We’re going to have to take a different direction.”
Owner of McHenry Bowl and incumbent Garrad Marsh is confident that his leadership experience is what Modesto voters trust to continue moving the city forward over the next four years. He says his performance has proven he has an important edge over Brandvold.
“I don’t think the mayor’s job is one to do on-the-job training for being a leader,” Marsh said. “I’ve been a leader from when I was my company commander in boot camp when I went into the Navy. I’ve led my industry in the bowling business as president and board member for lots of years. Leadership comes natural.”
Marsh points to multiple development projects undertaken in Modesto during his term as mayor which he says are poised bring new business and jobs to the city. Currently in various stages of the planning process, those include a group that has plans for a children’s hospital, an Alzheimer’s and senior care facility, a hotel scheduled to break ground in April and food service vendors across from Kaiser Medical Center on Dale Road. There is also a rehabilitaion center tentatively planned for the area.
Also in the planning stages is a 40-acre development on Crows Landing Road that will include a mercado, multi-family housing, banking and possibly a hotel.
“Another one is our Beard Industrial Park which broke ground on a 500,000-square-foot addition to their industrial park properties. That one is pretty exciting also, actually,” said Marsh.
Furthering the city’s economic development will be this year’s adoption of both water and waste water master plans that, according to Marsh, will expand the ability to provide those services by about 25 percent.
“Every industry needs water. If you can’t show a 20-year sustainable ability of water there’s huge restrictions on your ability to develop,” he said. ”We think we can attract industry that is wishing to expand.”
Marsh believes that part of being a strong leader is hiring good people. The city recently has hired both a public information officer and a new economic development officer. The new public information officer will market Modesto both locally and beyond.
“A part of that is to tell our story and Modesto has a good story and it hasn’t done a very good job of telling that to the public, to the world,” said Marsh.
Modesto’s new economic development officer, Cindy Birdsell, started in November and has a background working for both developers and city governments.
“She understands the complexities and the issues and how to get things done and she’s jumped in with both feet,” Marsh said.
Looking forward, Marsh believes that the work he would do during a second term as Modesto’s mayor would be catalysts for the future.
“If I do a really, really good job of being mayor, you’re going to know 10 years after I’m gone,” he said. “Part of that is getting the ground floor built.”
Ballots are due Feb. 2.