Merced mayor candidate is running 'just for the fun of it'

70-year-old says nobody else knows what the mayor's job entails

10/15/2011 1:19 AM

10/15/2011 2:30 AM

Meet Ken Riggleman Jr., Merced's version of Harold Stassen, the Minnesota politician who ran for president nine times between 1948 and 1988.

The 70-year-old has run for City Council in Merced eight times. And there was the time he ran for California governor about 10 years ago.

You've probably seen Riggleman on the streets of Merced with his trailer. Riggleman is running for mayor in the November election. He said nobody else knows what the mayor's job entails.

"I figured it's time," said Riggleman, who has worked a lot of jobs. "I don't like the way they're running this city and they all baffle me with bull crap. I read all this stuff they put in the paper. None of them know what the mayor's job is."

The mayor's job is to preside over the council and break any tie votes, he said.

City officials claim they'll bring businesses to town, he said. "Are we going to fire the economic development department? The chamber of commerce?" he asked.

Moreover, Riggleman, who lives in the city with his wife and son, said there is "nothing you can bring" to the mayor position. "All these people are saying what they can bring. That ain't their job," he said.

He said the sales tax initiative this year was "a waste of money."

For businesses coming to town, he said he would back them "100 percent. I want them to come in. Don't be so hard on them," he said.

As for unemployment, he said there's nothing that can be done about it because "of the cartel in Mexico. The cartel is kidnapping the people who are coming to the U.S. Don't come to the U.S. (they said), 'We're gonna kill your family.' "

Born in Virginia, Riggleman says he was abandoned as a baby in Pennsylvania. He says he also spent about three months in an orphanage. He has been a big-rig driver, a handyman and even built a restaurant on Childs Avenue when he came to Merced.

Between 1980 and 1982, he said "I was nuttier than a fruitcake. I don't remember those two years."

In the future, Merced's "getting bigger, that's all. We've got a lot of empty houses. Too many. I think the economy is going to pick up in another couple of years and they'll be back to building houses. While we were having houses being built, there were plenty of jobs here."

He said he won't be giving the residents of Merced any of the "bull crap" other candidates are giving them.

"I'm going to run just for the fun of it. Win or lose, I'm going to run just for the fun of it," he said.

Reporter Ameera Butt can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or abutt@mercedsunstar.com.

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