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Council candidate: Bob Acheson

Bob AchesonResidence: North MercedFamily: Married, two childrenYears Lived in Merced: 22 yearsParty Registration: RepublicanBiggest Funders: $1,500 from Riverside Motorsports Park; $1,500 from Citizens for the Betterment of Merced County; $750 from California Association of Realtors Past Experience With Public Office: Three years on the city Planning CommissionEndorsements: Merced Police Officers Association, Merced Firefighters Association

Acheson, a mortgage banker at Wells Fargo, is a political newcomer with establishment backing. With hefty donations from real estate and development interests, he’s running the most well-financed and well-organized campaign. More than $16,600 in contributions — the most that any candidate has raised, including the mayor’s race — have paid for a professional campaign consultant, polished Web site and plenty of blue and white yard signs.

A longtime member of the Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce’s executive board, the city’s Economic Development Advisory Committee, and a Planning Commissioner since 2004, Acheson’s name recognition among the business and building communities is generating broad support. “People come up to me and ask me how they can help me,” he said Acheson.

On the issues, Acheson believes that jobs are the answer to what ails Merced. “If we take care of jobs, it will have an effect on public safety and education,” said Acheson. He says he wants the city to “think outside the box” to build partnerships with UC Merced that will keep bright young graduates in town.

As for the hot-button question of whether the city should approve a Wal-Mart distribution center in southeast Merced, Acheson says he’ll review all of the project’s environmental reviews before making a decision. But he notes that he favors economic development in just about any form: “I support jobs, whether it’s Wal-Mart or someone else, jobs is huge.”

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