Crime issues emerge as an issue in Stanislaus County election

Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors District 3 nominees Tony Madrigal, left, and Terry Withrow.

Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors District 3 nominees Tony Madrigal, left, and Terry Withrow.

Two contenders for a seat on the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors have upped the ante with recent campaign flyers, suggesting public safety is again seen as a top concern for voters.

Board Chairman Terry Withrow sent letters this month promote its endorsements law enforcement officials and associations and also drew attention to his opponent’s record of violating campaign finance and driving laws.

Tony Madrigal, a late Modesto city councilman, claimed Withrow showed an anti-police attitude with a Facebook post about Trump supporters storming the Capitol building in Washington.

The stakes are high with the June 7 electoral contest between the three-term holder and Madrigal. Withrow worked on efforts to shelter the homeless, protect water supplies and build the Route 132 project.

If Madrigal wins, he will bring his own ideas to the board. The county’s five-member board would have four supervisors with two years or less of experience.

Withrow, who is seeking a fourth term on the Board of Supervisors, has the endorsements of Sheriff Jeff Dirkse, the Stanislaus County Sworn Deputies Association and the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association. The Modesto Police Officers Association and city firefighters also endorse Withrow over Madrigal, who served nine years on the city council.

“Terry (Withrow) has always been a supporter of the sheriff’s department,” said Randon Kirkbride, president of the Stanislaus Sworn Deputies Association. “He’s always been willing to give us the equipment we need and the funding we need. We have no reason not to endorse it.

Madrigal did not receive the approval of the police.

Kirkbride said union members are wary of Madrigal’s ties to advocates who want to reinvent policing and cut budgets.

“He’s made comments in the past to be either anti-law enforcement or made ‘defund-the-police’ type statements,” Kirkbride said. “He turns around in an election year and comes to us for an endorsement. For us, that’s a flip-flop.”

Kirkbride said the Modesto Police Department has seen an exodus of officers to the county sheriff’s department or towns like Lathrop. “We’ve hired 15 to 18 Modesto police officers over the past two years,” Kirkbride said.

Madrigal said on Thursday he had not commented in favor of cutting police funding. He said he voted last year to increase Modesto’s police budget.

As for not getting the approval of law enforcement, Madrigal said public safety unions tended to back the incumbents.

Crime is again one of the top four problems for California voters, according to Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies Poll released in April.

Despite Withrow’s endorsements, Madrigal claimed Withrow did not support the police based on a message posted by the supervisor after the January 6, 2021 riot at the United States Capitol.

The challenger referenced the Facebook post in a post containing cartoon images of cows. Withrow’s post said the violent walkers were “sincere in their beliefs”, and one of the cows remarked that “Withrow is anti-police”. Another cow says “he’s not for us”.

Withrow said last week that the overall message of her Facebook comment was “violence is never the answer” and “we all need to come together and work through this.” Withrow said his opponent amplified a single sentence in the post.

According to screenshots, Withrow’s message said Trump supporters and protesters who caused destruction from police brutality in the summer of 2020 were “sincere in their beliefs.” A number of Facebook users questioned that idea and disagreed with the Overseer, saying one group was protesting years of injustice and the other was committing an insurrection because of it. of the result of the presidential election.

“How can you honestly say that these people who were part of it were sincere in their beliefs, when they attacked law enforcement?” said Madrigal.

One of Withrow’s campaign dispatchers cited Madrigal’s personal record, including a fine for campaign finance violations, a three-day jail sentence for reckless driving in Santa Cruz County and citations for driving. with a suspended or revoked license. Madrigal served as a Santa Cruz city councilman from 2004 to 2012 and said he learned from his mistakes.

Residents want police protection

Withrow and Madrigal are seeking to vote in a supervisory district that includes west and northwest Modesto, Salida and the Wood Colony area.

Terhesa Gamboa, president of the Woodland West Neighborhood Association, said she approves of Withrow primarily because the neighborhood wanted a sound barrier to reduce traffic noise along the newly constructed Highway 132 bypass. The chances of getting the sound barrier are better if Withrow stays in office, she said.

Regarding public safety, Gamboa said residents of Woodland West have been complaining of vehicle break-ins and reckless drivers speeding and spinning donuts at intersections in neighborhoods west of Carpenter Road.

Gamboa said the Madrigal campaign – largely funded by construction and utility unions – has as many signs posted in Woodland West neighborhoods as the Withrow campaign.

“Terry (Withrow) did a great job for us as a supervisor,” Gamboa said. “He comes to almost everything I invite him to. He responds to people if they ask him for help. He is a good supporter of law enforcement.

Dirkse, the county sheriff, also said there was no doubting Withrow’s support for law enforcement. Withrow’s brother is the San Joaquin County Sheriff.

Salida gets a substation

When he spoke with Withrow about Salida, the largest unincorporated town in the county, the supervisor was enthusiastic about reopening the sheriff’s substation to expand patrols and improve access for law enforcement. order, Dirkse said. The county reached an agreement to place the substation at the downtown Salida fire station.

The Modesto Police Officers Association endorsed Madrigal when he first ran for city council in 2013, but police did not back him for re-election in 2017.

An MPOA committee member told The Modesto Bee that one of the concerns was that Madrigal was raising more than $100,000 in campaign contributions in a riding with low voter turnout. He won in 2013 with 804 votes.

Madrigal has raised $145,200 this year and spent $138,785 to run for county council headquarters. Withrow received $98,000 in campaign contributions this year and spent $97,078, according to disclosures.

Withrow said much of the work to rebuild the sheriff’s department after budget cuts a decade ago is complete, as the county has added 40 deputies over the past four years while increasing the department’s budget. of $24 million. He expects to work on solutions to homelessness, transportation projects and the Focus on Prevention initiative, which attempts to address the root causes that lead to family dysfunction, homelessness and behavior criminal.

“You can’t fund the police,” Withrow said. “It’s not the answer for anyone.”

This story was originally published May 30, 2022 7:00 a.m.

Ken Carlson covers county government and health care for The Modesto Bee. His coverage of public health, medicine, consumer health issues and the healthcare industry appeared in The Bee for 15 years.

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