District 4: Monteith deserves re-election

Four years ago, former state Sen. Dick Monteith won this seat, which had been held for decades by Ray Simon.

Three of the four candidates in that 2006 race are back again -- Monteith, former Modesto City Councilman Balvino Irizarry and former Modesto Mayor Carmen Sabatino. The fourth, Janice Keating, is running for the Assembly.

Four years ago we supported Keating, but since then we've grown to respect Monteith's work as a supervisor. He is conscientious about responding to constituent concerns and has emerged as an important advocate for seniors wanting improved public transit. He often calls on his experience in the state Senate. And, like any incumbent, he has a far greater understanding of the current issues facing the county than his two opponents.

We think he deserves a second term representing a district that includes much of Modesto.

Monteith and Irizarry, the two viable candidates in this race, see eye to eye on some things, but differ on some key issues, including land use.

Monteith supported the large footprint for West Park and says he continues to support it. Irizarry believes that West Park should be limited to the former air base, and he criticizes the county for its lackluster participation in the valleywide Blueprint planning process.

Irizarry argues that the board must put more emphasis on getting more jobs and needs a fresh perspective; Monteith says he doesn't have a single top priority, but wants instead to keep the whole picture in focus.

As for Sabatino, he lacks the competence and character needed for this or any local elected office.

In his one term as mayor, he showed himself to be divisive and vindictive and either unable or unwilling to build consensus and cooperation.

Sabatino continues to drudge up beefs from a decade ago, when as mayor he sparred with the former county CEO and others over the landfill expansion and other issues that are mostly resolved.

He also talks of his desire to "supervise" the sheriff's and the district attorney's offices, a responsibility that is outside the purview of a supervisor.

We think either Irizarry or Monteith could do a satisfactory job as part of a strong, well-functioning board.

But Monteith, the incumbent, has done his job effectively, and deserves to be re-elected.

All three candidates met with The Bee's editorial board April 15; a video of that group interview may be viewed at

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