Stockton City Council members moved one step closer to resolving a 23-year-compliance issue with its charter when they appointed their nominations for the Stockton Charter Review Advisory Commission.
One nomination drew more attention than the others.
In District 1, Councilmember Michele Padilla nominated Motecuzoma Sanchez to serve a three year term on the commission.
Sanchez is the founder of 209 Times, an “independent, community driven, grass roots news source,” according to its website, which has garnered local and national attention. Some political pundits say it is partly responsible for turning the tide against incumbent Mayor Michael Tubbs’ 2020 reelection campaign and the site has launched attacks against a variety of community members, including former Stockton Unified School District student, David Sengthay, in 2021.
Sengthay, 17 at the time, protested against Stockton Unified School District school district employees in 2021 following a scathing grand jury report. Sanchez worked for Stockton Unified at the time. The website has also been critical of Stockton City Manager Harry Black.
District 1, Council member Michele Padilla did not return calls seeking comment about her nomination and the council’s appointment of Sanchez.
However, Councilmember Michael Blower said of Sanchez’s appointment: “I think the 209 Times has clearly had a problem with our current city manager, and for Sanchez to be part of that [commission], he’s clearly going to have problems with [Black.”]
Sanchez has run for office in Stockton multiple times, but has yet to be successful. In 2014, he ran for the Stockton City Council; ran for Mayor in 2020, and in 2022 ran unsuccessfully for the Lincoln Unified School District Area 5 spot.
Sanchez is currently a member of the city’s Strong Communities Advisory Committee whose term will expire next January. Between 2015 and 2019 he served on Stockton’s Water Advisory Group.
The commission is composed of seven community members nominated by the six council members and Mayor Kevin Lincoln, and will focus on the city being out of compliance with a 2000 vote that placed control of the city’s public information officer under the direction and supervision of the mayor.
Public information officers usually perform community relations duties, as well as field media inquiries, handle requests for public records, and manage the city’s website.
In District 3, Blower nominated Gregory Bahr to serve on the commission. Bahr, who works as the IT director at St. Mary’s High School earned high praise from Blower for being “very detail oriented.”
Blower met Bahr more than eight years ago, when he was campaigning for election to the city council.
“I’m the one who brought this issue up,” said Blower, fresh from a weekend of passing out toiletry kits to homeless veterans in downtown Stockton, in partnership with the local AMVETS chapter, and attending the NAACP Freedom Fund Gala.
What Blower hopes to accomplish is to amend the city’s charter, which would require a ballot measure, to have two public information officers: one for the office of the mayor, and a second for all other city departments that would be supervised by the city manager.
The reason the city has been out of compliance for 23 years, Blower said, is “they found out it’s not practical. There’s a reason they have not done it in 30 years.”
Still, Blower points to other cities, such as San Jose, who have successfully divided their public information efforts between the office of the mayor and a city manager. “I want to get this language cleaned up,” he said.
In District 2, Councilmember Dan Wright has yet to nominate a commission member.
“Councilmembers have the right to propose the appointment of whomever they choose to boards and commissions,” said Wright, who is running for mayor in 2024. “I will appoint someone I believe has the necessary skills to do the work and the best interests of the city at heart. I hope that all councilmembers make their appointments through a similar lens.”
In District 4 Councilmember Susan Lenz nominated Gwendolyn Dailey to join the commission, and in District 5, councilmember Brando Villapudua nominated Lauren Olavarria as his advisory commission member. Neither Lenz nor Villapudua returned calls seeking comment.
In District 6, Vice Mayor Kimberley Warmsley nominated D’andrea Davie, a real estate agent who served with Warmsley on the planning commission.
“At the end of the day, they are an advisory [commission]. They will make recommendations, and the council will make decisions on what aspects of those recommendations we want to adopt,” Warmsley said.
Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln nominated Tracy Glaves.