Local Election

Here’s who is running for city council in Merced County cities

The Merced City Council adopted its map for future local elections in October 2015.
The Merced City Council adopted its map for future local elections in October 2015. Merced Sun-Star file

The list of people running for elected office in Merced County’s six cities has been finalized, and some races are more crowded than others.

Merced’s even-numbered city council districts are up for election this time around.

District 4 pits sitting Councilmember Kevin Blake against newcomer Karla A. Seijas, who described herself as an educator and veterans advocate on campaign filings. She works as a graduate specialist at UC Merced, according to school’s website.

Blake, a Merced County Sheriff’s sergeant, was first elected in 2013. District 4 runs north of the Santa Fe Railroad and mostly east of G Street.

Another sheriff’s sergeant is running for the District 6 seat, which is almost entirely north of Yosemite Avenue. Sgt. Delray Shelton has thrown his hat in the ring.

If Blake and Shelton were to both win their races, the Merced City Council would have three members of Merced County law enforcement at its helm. Supervising Deputy District Attorney Matt Serratto was elected two years ago in District 5, the city’s third northern district.

District 6’s other candidate is Buhach Colony High School government and economics teacher John Bliss Jr. Councilmember Josh Pedrozo, who teaches at Merced High, will term out of office this year.

The Merced City Council has a sitting teacher in Councilmember Anthony Martinez of southeast District 1.

The southwestern District 2 drew a single candidate in Fernando Echevarria, who described himself as an advocate in election filings.

Incumbent Mayor Mike Murphy, an attorney, is seeking re-election. He faces a single competitor, Monica Kay Villa, a homeless advocate. Villa commonly speaks publicly at council meetings, and has run unsuccessfully for a council seat multiple times.

Atwater has been reeling for years of deficit spending and infighting among its City Council. The past two years have been particularly rough as councilmembers have sparred over the city’s budget and decisions around high-ranking employees.

That head butting leads the city into an election where incumbent Mayor Jim Price vies for re-election against Councilmember Paul Creighton, both of whom are business owners.

Another business owner, Councilmember Brian Raymond is also seeking another term in newly established District 4. He’ll face Don Hyler III, who has been the city clerk for two years. Hyler, too, owns his own business.

New District 2 sees newcomers Danny Ambriz, who works in technical support, and Dan Hernandez, a retired maintenance splicer who ran an unsuccessful campaign two years ago.

Los Banos mayor since 2010, Mike Villalta is seeking another term. The business owner faces another business owner in Nilson Gomes Filho.

In District 2, incumbent Councilmember Tom Faria will face Refugio M. Llamas, a Marine reservist. Two members of the Los Banos planning commission, John Cates and Brett Jones, will vie for District 3.

Livingston’s Mayor Jim Soria did not file for re-election, according to records, so the seat has no incumbent. Three councilmembers, Juan Aguilar Jr., Alex McCabe and Gurpal Samra, will compete for the top seat on the council. Retired federal employee Mario Luera is also running.

The most crowded race in the whole election is for Livingston City Council. The city does not have a district map, so councilmembers are elected by a citywide vote.

The nine candidates include retired correctional officer Jay Abrams, planning commissioner Jason Roth, truck driver Gagandeep Kang, truck driver Mucio Vera Jr., veteran Elias Jesus Maldonado III, office consultant Garry Gurpreet Singh, Sheriff’s Deputy Raul T. Garcia, technician Roberto Godinez and teacher Maria Baptista-Soto.

In Gustine, Zachary Ramos, a recreation leader, faces Patrick Nagy, a general manager, for mayor. The council candidates are food quality manager Derek Alexander, business owner Rich Ford and retired businessman Lynn Schultz.

Dos Palos City Council candidates are incumbent Thomas Lee Pigg, community advocate Alice F. Thompson, retired investor Kuldip Mahal and bookkeeper Deborah A. Orlando.

*This story was corrected from an earlier version.

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