Outspoken Porterville City Council Member Greg Shelton has declared his candidacy for Tulare County’s Fifth District Supervisorial seat.
Shelton is 52, single and self-employed with real estate interests. He says he “lives a spartan existence.” His involvement in local government started when he wanted to buy an abandoned railroad property adjacent to property he owned.
“I went to city hall to find a way to annex it and clean it up,” Shelton said. “Unbeknownst to me, the city had designs on it for a biking trail. I was basically stonewalled and harassed by local government. I was told, ‘When they were done with you, you’ll beg us to take it.’ That set the stage for my political career.”
After battling city officials, as well as CalTrans, which initially insisted he post an exorbitant bond, Shelton got the property.
“This inspired me to run for city council,” he said, adding that he was unsuccessful in his first try, placing fifth out of the nine candidates in 2008. “It was good enough that I didn’t embarrass myself.”
Two years later, Shelton ran for Porterville City Council again. He made his own signs, which read “No Moe Status Quo” and featured the image of Moe of the Three Stooges. “I got the most votes out of anybody in the election,” he said proudly.
He had previously served on the city’s parks and leisure committee for seven years and, according to Shelton, earned a reputation for diligently doing his job on a committee that had previously prided itself on having seven-minute meetings.
“I had three people resign from the committee and signify me as why they resigned,” he said, adding that if he saw a proposal on a meeting agenda to get rid of a tree, “I would drive out and say, ‘Why do you want to get rid of that tree?’” He said committee members would ask him why he did that, and he would respond, “The question is not why did I go out there; the question is why didn’t any of you.”
Shelton likes being called rebellious and a fighter. He is proud of the relationship he helped develop between the Tule reservation and the city, as well of the job he did as a city council member. He leaves a council that has a balanced budget and that oversees a city with two new parks, new commercial developments, roads getting fixed “and housing back to where it was before the bubble.”
Shelton believes it is now time to move on.
“District 5 doesn’t have a great relationship with the board since I have been on city council,” he said. “(Supervisors) started three actions and investigations, and delayed for three years the Tule Septic System, a $7 million project paid for by the federal government. They were the barons and we were all fifes.
“Porterville has a reputation for being the rebellious stepchild of Tulare County, the butt of a lot of jokes,” he continued. “They’re an independent but a righteous group, but they do what they think.”
Shelton said he would do things differently than current District 5 Supervisor Mike Ennis, who (so far) is running for re-election against Porterville City Council Member Virginia Gurrola, former Porterville City Council Member Felipe Martinez, and now Shelton.
“My representative – I would expect him to vote the consensus of his constituents, just as I would be an instrument of my constituents,” said Shelton. “If they tell me they want a Super Wal-Mart, then I’ll fight for a Super Wal-Mart. I would expect when Mr. Ennis goes out there, he would have honored the wishes of his constituents and done what they want.
“Mike’s a wonderful guy,” he continued. “His problem is he’s weak. We’ve tried (Ennis as supervisor) for eight years and we’ve gotten table scraps at best. We think he’s a wonderful man, a model of decorum. He’s just not a fighter. Nice guys finish last and that’s what’s happening to our district.”
Shelton believes that without his candidacy, Ennis might have received 51% of the vote and been re-elected in the June primary. “When I entered the fray, it throws a wrench in the dynamics. The Tea Party likes me. The conservatives like me, but I’m not as dogmatic. People say, ‘You’re not a union guy but you’re really concerned about workers,’ – but not to where I’m a horrible union lackey. It’s mostly for empathy because I’ve been there.
“If you like things happening the way things have been for the last eight years, don’t vote for me,” said Shelton. “I’m going to change the way it’s done. I’m not going to roll over.”