A fresh face is guaranteed on the Tulare City Council in the November election because District 2 on Tulare’s west side has no incumbent candidate.
Three people are seeking election to District 2, while in District 4 in north-central Tulare, the incumbent and a challenger are seeking the seat.
The election cycle will also complete the city’s switch to district elections. Previously the council members were elected at large by all voters, which critics and courts said limited minority representation.
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District 2 is a largely lower-income area west of the Union Pacific railroad tracks that bisect the community.
Candidate Ben Brubaker, 31, is a manager at Tulare Grocery Outlet, a business owned by his parents.
Brubaker grew up in California and Idaho, served in the National Guard for 14 years and was deployed twice to Iraq. He has a college degree from Brigham Young University — Idaho, is married with children, moved to Tulare two years ago and was appointed last year to the Tulare Planning Commission.
“I want to make my community a better place for my kids,” he said.
Brubaker, a graduate of Leadership Tulare who served an internship at the mayor’s office in Salt Lake City, said he likes Tulare’s “agricultural small town feeling.”
West side residents are eager to have a representative on the council, he said.
“They need someone who is a liaison” between the community and city government, he said. “I’d like to be the person they are comfortable going to.”
Brubaker has raised $1,100 in campaign contributions, including $500 from Council Member Skip Barwick.
Candidate Arthur Cabello Sr., 53, a retired insurance broker and real estate broker, has run for the City Council four times without success. He believes the city’s switch to district elections should help him.
“I was always fairly successful with precincts on the west side,” he said.
The west side has long needed a voice on the City Council, he said.
“I’ve lived there my entire life,” he said. “I want to give them that voice. I know how to work with the city and City Council.”
The west side needs safer neighborhoods, he said, and the west side police office should be reopened.
“We need more officers out on the beat,” Cabello said.
The west side also needs industry, he said.
“We need economic development,” he said. “We need to retain businesses on the west side and recruit businesses. Our city is bigger than Wal-Mart and our outlet center.”
Cabello said he has been active in nonprofit groups for decades and served five years on the Tulare Redevelopment Agency board of directors.
Self-employed in real estate and insurance, Cabello was a high school special education teacher for five years. He is married and has three children and several grandchildren.
His campaign reported $1,420 in contributions, including $850 from himself and $250 from former council member Ty Holscher.
Candidate Maritsa Castellanoz Munoz, 39, is a Tulare native who is employed as an insurance agent.
“I grew up on the west side,” she said. “There’s concern on the west side that the district needs a voice, and that someone needs to represent the west side.”
She served as cheer adviser for the Tulare Youth Athletic Association, an after-school sports program.
“I like helping people. It’s just my nature,” Munoz said.
She has four children and wants families to know that there are programs for youth. She also favors better roads and street lighting on the west side.
Munoz is bilingual and said her strategy for winning is “talking to people” and registering new voters.
“There are 2,065 registered voters in the district,” she said. “It should be 20,000. It’s mind-boggling the number of people who aren’t registered.”
She signed a pledge to spend less than $1,000.
District 4 in north-central Tulare has two incumbents — David Macedo and Skip Barwick — who won election citywide before Tulare switched to district elections.
Only Macedo, 52, is seeking re-election, running for a fifth term.
By now, he said, the community knows what he stands for.
“The community won’t get any surprises from me,” he said. “I don’t vote to give away city funds. I vote to keep money in the coffers, and vote to use money for public services.”
Macedo grew up in Tulare, is an auctioneer at a cattle sales yard at which he’s a partner, and is the 2006 World Auction Livestock Champion. He said he strongly supports the agricultural industry.
The biggest issue in the campaign should be water for farming, industry and homes in the current drought, he said.
“Water is so important,” he said. “How do you provide your citizens with water? It’s a huge issue.”
The city has drilled deeper wells for its municipal water system and adopted stricter water conservation measures, he said.
Macedo had $2,072 in campaign funds at the beginning of the year and has received no additional contributions as of Sept. 30. His sole expenditure was $500 to the Tulare 9/11 Memorial Blood Drive.
Challenger Nathan “Nate” Terry, 45, is director of the Lighthouse Rescue Mission. He moved to Tulare in 1999 from Oakland and has an inspiring personal story.
“I was homeless and a drug addict,” he said. “I’ve been in prison. I’ve been straight for 15 years. I’m an advocate for the lost, the least and the left behind.”
Terry, an ordained minister, chose Tulare because relatives live in the city. He started a Bible study group while in prison, worked at the Visalia Rescue Mission before his current job and gives the Sunday service there twice a month.
If elected, he would advocate for transitional housing to help the homeless get on the road to recovery, including a job, he said.
“We need a family shelter,” he said. “Why can’t the city allow us to do this without red tape? I have families living in their cars. They don’t want to split up.”
Gang violence in Tulare is excessive, he said, and he supports putting gang members who commit crimes behind bars until they realize “you are scaring our citizens. You need to get a job and be part of our community.”
He signed a pledge to spend less than $1,000.