As often is the case, history is repeating itself. Sixteen years after Salida successfully fought off an annexation attempt by Modesto Mayor and Fresno-native, Dick Lang, we’re right back where we started with a Mayor of Modesto wanting to annex Salida. The name of this new player with a plan is Garrad Marsh.
Frankly speaking, Garrad Marsh befuddles me.
When I attended the August 4, 2012 Town Hall Meeting that Mr. Marsh held at Beyer High School, one of the primary reasons he gave for wanting to annex Salida into Modesto was to get control of the land in the Salida Community Plan to develop it.
Imagine how stunned I was when I learned that Mr. Marsh was a co-author ON THE OPPOSING INITIATIVE to what evolved into the Salida Community Plan! That’s right, he co-authored “SOS – Stamp Out Sprawl” (aka Measure E) with Denny Jackman.
To put it another way, Garrad Marsh now embraces the “sprawl” that he once opposed on a ballot initiative. If your thinking is anything like mine, it will take some effort to wrap your head around that. Even more so when you hear someone refer to Mr. Marsh as a “farmland advocate” considering that the Salida Community Plan will pave over 3,000+ acres of farmland.
Now I don’t personally know Garrad Marsh. I have heard plenty of nice things about him from others; I have neighbors who bowl with him. I’ve heard he owns a great BBQ joint. But as the saying goes, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first good impression”, and as a Salida resident, I don’t have a first good impression of him. Why? Well because for someone who is striving to annex our town into his city, he doesn’t appear to care very much about what we potential new citizens of Modesto think about the whole issue.
I found it particularly galling that in an interview with Athens Abell on her cable show, “On Watch!”, referring to the annexation, Mr. Marsh says, “…we would have to figure out how it doesn’t hurt the citizens of Modesto.” Ms. Abell follows his comments with the questions, “How does Salida feel about it? Have you talked to them?” To which Mr. Marsh replied, “No, I have not, I have no idea of how Salida would feel”. Watch the video here.
His statement about not wanting to “hurt the citizens of Modesto” is like a slap in the face to Salida as he then acknowledges that he doesn’t know how we feel about the issue. What about hurting the citizens of Salida? Is that ok with him? What I take away from that is that as long as Modesto gets it land grab, who cares what Salidans think or feel about it! And Mr. Marsh still does not know how Salida feels, because he’s not come out here and asked us. So I will share how I feel as a citizen of Salida. And considering that the interview was conducted BEFORE MR. MARSH WAS EVEN ELECTED, I feel that he’s had plenty of time and opportunities to ask Salidans’ opinions on annexation. That says to me that he doesn’t care what we think, he only cares about progressing with his agenda. He’s demonstrated this by approving $30,000 for a fiscal feasibility study on annexing Salida WITHOUT ever finding out what Salidans feel about it! Is his plan is to spend first, ask later? If he ever gets around to asking that is. If you watch the video, you’ll see he passes the “what Salidans think” buck onto Terry Withrow, and I’ll get to Mr. Withrow in a minute, but I just want to close with a final thought and question for my fellow Salidans: If we do end up being annexed into the City of Modesto, would you vote for the re-election of a mayor who valued your opinion so little?
Unlike Garrad Marsh, Stanislaus County Supervisor Terry Withrow does care what Salidans think. He has publicly and repeatedly said that he “will support what Salida wants”. As he should, since its his job to care what we think. Because unlike Mr. Marsh, he’s an elected official who represents Salida in Stanislaus County District 3. The sticking point is that he needs to hear from us, and it may need to be nearly all 13,000+ of us!
Now while Terry Withrow is indeed a politician, and he has many of the same “pro-annexation” talking points that Mr. Marsh has, I believe he’s a man of his word. You see, Terry Withrow is my CPA. He’s been my CPA for more than fifteen years, and if I can’t entrust my financials to him, let alone my town, then I’m in serious trouble! Although I do admit that when I first learned a few months ago that Terry supported the annexation, it wrenched my gut. My first thought was, “MY CPA WANTS TO DITCH MY TOWN!?! WHY???? Why does Terry support this?” The “whys” have plagued me for months now. At first, I just figured that Terry had his CPA hat on and wanted to get the red ink that Salida is, off of Stanislaus County’s books. And perhaps that’s a valid reason he has, although I recently learned about a new politico who is driving the annexation behind the scenes, and that’s Modesto Councilman, Joe Muratore.