Sue Zwahlen, who ran a strong campaign for congress in California Congressional District 10 in 2018, has announced she will run for Mayor of Modesto. Zwahlen enters a crowded contest that includes incumbent Ted Brandvold, Rick Countryman of Big Valley Grace Church, Naramsen Goriel, Modesto City Councilmembers Doug Ridenour and Kristi Ah You, and Bert Lippert, Building Safety Coordinator for the City of Modesto.
Zwahlen’s extensive experience as an Emergency Room nurse could be exactly what the city needs after enduring the Brandvold administration, best known for its inability to conduct meetings of the City Council and the mayor’s statements that, “homelessness is not the city’s problem.” Both the City of Modesto and Stanislaus County have suffered a dearth of leadership during the Covid crisis especially; who better than an Emergency Room nurse to provide leadership and direction?
Zwahlen’s long service on the Modesto City Schools Board of Education also adds to her readiness to serve the city at a time when returning to school is fraught with danger and controversy. Unlike Ted Brandvold, Sue Zwahlen will almost certainly be proactive in addressing the city’s responses to threats posed by Covid-19, and she’s eminently qualified to assess school openings through the lenses of learning and health care.
Two of Modesto’s most successful mayors were women—Peggy Mensinger and Carol Whiteside—and it’s not a stretch to argue no one since has shown their capacities for leadership and vision. And it may only be a curious coincidence, but thus far, the most successful countries in controlling the pandemic—from Iceland through New Zealand and on to Germany—have been led by women.
Gender aside, Zwahlen’s excellence as a member of the city’s Board of Education was recognized when, after four years of service, she ran for reelection in 2013. In a very crowded field, Zwahlen led all candidates by an overwhelming margin of votes. She also ran a very strong primary campaign for congress, but no one in 2018 was prepared for the wave of support generated by Turlock native Josh Harder, who went on from the primary to upset incumbent Congressman Jeff Denham.
Ordinarily, the incumbent is favored in most any election. Brandvold’s term, however, has been lackluster and he’s often appeared disengaged from the city’s most pressing issues, especially homelessness. He’s been unable to bring a bickering group of City Councilmembers together and meetings are often discordant and rancorous.
Even some of his original supporters have abandoned Brandvold. Realtor Mike Zagaris, who backed Brandvold in 2016, has switched his support to Countryman, who he described as having, “the personal characteristics and professional skills that this community needs more.”
Brandvold could also be hurt by his continued endorsement of candidate for congress Ted Howze, who has been tainted by racist posts on his social media accounts. Howze, who is not a Modesto resident, nonetheless has contributed $500 to Brandvold’s campaign.
Brandvold’s biggest problem will be the widespread perception that he’s been passive in the face of problems that demand proactive government. Homelessness and the escalating effects of Covid-19 are severe emergencies. Who better to address them than an Emergency Room nurse? Sue Zwahlen won’t need time on the job to provide critical care for a city that needs it now; Ted Brandvold has had four years and still isn’t ready.
Bruce Frohman says
The number of candidates running against Mayor Brandvold does not bode well for reelection. He can save himself a lot of aggravation by dropping out of the race now. When the special interest that helped you get into office no longer backs you, why bother to run? Thanks for your service Mr. Branvold.
The entry of Sue Zwahlen adds another well qualified candidate to the race. A run off is most likely. I am hoping to like both candidates in the runoff so much that I will not feel compelled to make an endorsement.
Donna PhillipsP says
When you ran for City Council I was extremely heartened to know a man of integrity and intelligence would be in the chambers. Have you ever considered running for mayor or returning to council?
Bruce Frohman says
Thank you for your kind sentiment!
Every time an election comes up, I think about running again. But running and serving takes a great commitment in time and effort. Serving raises blood pressure!
When a new City Council is seated, I hope that those serving do such a great job that I don’t regret my decision.
Our community can do much better. We have great candidates this election cycle.
Life Long Modestan says
Richard Anderson says
I believe Sue Zwahlen will make an excellent mayor for Modesto, especially in these times of COVID. Women leaders of Iceland, New Zealand and Germany’s success with COVID-19 is a good point, Mr. Caine. We need to put a woman in charge.
Keb Mo, “Put a woman in charge”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FciQeRGYFlw
We need a science-believing smart person to leads us through this Valley of the Shadow of Death that Mr. Trump’s science denial has dumped us into.
This is excellent news! Behind her 100%! Where is our sign? Ready to make calls. Is this same Nov. election day?
Al Lucchesi says
I am happy sue Zwanlen is running for Mayor of Modesto. From past contacts I know she is good debater and speaker. Do hope she get in the top two and after the runoff becomes Modesto new Mayor
Al Lucchesi says
I am happy Sue Zwahlen is running for Mayor of Modesto. From past contacts I know she is a good debater and speaker. It my hope she will be Modesto new Mayor
This county, let alone this country doesn’t need another bigot running our government [Even if it’s simply local. In my eyes that type mentality makes all the worse; as it directly affects our day to day lives]. I will definitely be looking more closely at Sue Zwahlen before deciding on her. But I have always found her beliefs to ethnically and culturally inclusive.
I listened to Sue Zwahlen closely in her run against Josh Harder. You mentioned her medical background a number of times in your article. That was her focus during her campaign. I would be interested in an interview with her to hear her vision for the future of Modesto. What is her thoughts on the empty buildings downtown. How does she plan to address the homeless, unemployed, uninsured population of Modesto. What does she think about urban sprawl ( Wood Colony). Would she favor infill and building up over covering more rich farmland. Agriculture is the basic start of Modesto. Does she favor bringing life back into downtown? I am old enough to remember everything one needed could be found downtown. That of course was before the mall and shopping centers. I hope you do question her and perhaps the other candidates as well. The current mayor apparently didn’t have a vision of the future of Modesto. I would love to know what these people have in mind.
Jac Ham says
I agree. What about her vision for Modesto?
I agree. All I hear is about is her being an ER Nurse, not much more. I need to know how she stands on the issues. What are her priorities?