District 3: Lyons clearly top choice

With Jeff Grover, the board's most experienced member, not seeking a third term, two men are vying to represent a largely rural district west of Modesto.

Bill Lyons is a member of a longtime Stanislaus County ranching family, a former Modesto Irrigation District director and a former state secretary of agriculture.

Terry Withrow is a certified public accountant who describes himself as a newcomer to politics.

The choice for this seat is clear: Bill Lyons would bring significant skills, knowledge and experience to the board during a critical point in time.

Lyons might have been able to campaign on his record -- or to simply ride into office based on name recognition alone. Instead, he's been working hard to meet people and make sure he's up on the issues affecting not only the county but other local entities.

He has been attending Board of Supervisor meetings for months, the county retirement board, Salida Municipal Advisory Council and even the Modesto City Schools board.

Lyons has amassed an impressive collection of endorsements.

Withrow counters that his lack of endorsements means he will come to the board with "no baggage, and no IOUs," and that "a clean slate" is what the board needs.

He claims to be a newcomer to politics, but while this is his first shot at elected office, he has served in the past as treasurer for Mike Serpa's campaigns.

Lyons and Withrow differ on a number of key issues facing the county.

For example, Withrow is adamantly opposed to Gerry Kamilos and the West Park plan, calling it "all smoke and mirrors" and vowing to vote against it.

Lyons indicated that he favored the original, smaller footprint for West Park, and said that while he will keep an open mind through the environmental impact report process, he is opposed to any housing element.

On the pension problem, Withrow said he felt new policies are heading in the right direction; Lyons said much work remains, and suggested bringing in top business and industry experts to help overhaul the system.

There's no question in our mind that Lyons is far more experienced and better prepared to be the next supervisor representing District 3.

Lyons and Withrow met with The Bee's editorial board April 28; a video of the session may be viewed at

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