Harrell seeks Jones’ seat on Tulare City Council

Steve Harrell–a Tulare native son and the former second in command at the Tulare Police Department–is throwing his hat into the ring for the District 3 seat on the Tulare City Council.

The seat is currently held by embattled Councilman Carlton Jones, who has been the focus of repeated claims against the city by members of its staff regarding Jones’ behavior. Most recently, the council agreed to settle two claims involving Jones and a pair of members of the TPD for $84,000.


Harrell to Stay on Hospital Board

Harrell, who holds a seat on the Tulare Local Health Care District (TLHCD) Board of Directors, says he feels compelled to run for a seat on the council to add a mature and reasonable voice to what he says is largely a cacophony at present.

“People need to know their representatives are going to do the right thing,” he said. “And, that’s what it’s all about, doing the right thing.”

When Harrell made the decision to run for council while retaining his seat on the hospital board, he wrote to the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) asking for assurance there would be no conflict of interest if he holds both seats.

The only area of “overlapping responsibilities” was the loan made by the city to the TLHCD. That loan has since been repaid.

“Now that we’ve repaid that loan, I don’t see anything that would be a conflict,” Harrell said. “It could arise, and if it’s necessary, I’ll recuse myself.”


Why He’s Running

When Harrell queried the FPPC, he received a single question from the reviewer, and it speaks to his reasoning for seeking a council seat.

“She said, ‘I only have one question,’ and I thought it was going to be more information,” Harrell said. “And she said, ‘Why would you do both?’”

He says he feels forced to run.

“It wasn’t my idea,” he said. “These things that are happening on the city council were just more and more embarrassing. It was costing more and more money. This has got to stop. I’m going to see if I can make a difference.”


Willing to Listen

A lack of cooperation between members of the council paired with what Harrell says is an unwillingness to listen to the opinions of others is damaging the city.

“You’ve seen the disrespect, the outright hostility between council members, also directed toward citizens,” he said. “It just goes on and on. You can’t run a city like that. You have to be willing to listen to each other and get past your differences.”

Harrell, a veteran of the Air Force, moved to the TPD from the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office in 1970. He became a sergeant in 1980 and a lieutenant in 1991, and was acting commander of the department at the time of his retirement. The leadership style he learned then, he says, will serve him well now.

“When I was on the police force, I never said anyone works for me. They work with me,” he said. “I think the people on the council have forgotten that.”


Communication, Trust Are Key

As a second generation resident of Tulare, Harrell says he recalls a time when the operation of the city was far smoother than it has been in many years. Since then, something has been lost.

“I can remember how it was when I was a kid, and we’re never going to go back to that, but we need to, have to be able to talk together,” he said.

Trust is one of the elements currently lacking, Harrell believes.

“I just want to be able to give people the opportunity to have confidence in their elected official,” he said. “That they can trust they have someone they can talk to who will listen.”

The job of a city councilmember, he said, is to gather as many people as possible about issues to gather as many perspectives as possible.

“You should have plenty of time to go out and meet with people and learn,” he said. “I’m going to tell people I’ll be here at a certain time under the shade tree if you want to talk.”

He also intends to maintain a strong presence on social media, though he favors face-to-face interaction.

“I like that personal touch,” he said. “I want to be able to sit down with people and ask them, ‘What do you see? What do you want to do? Will you help me get this done for the city of Tulare?’”

Also up for reelection on the November 3 ballot are Mayor Jose Sigala (District 1) and Councilman Greg Nunley (District 5). Running against Sigala is Clara L. Bernardo. Courtney C. Oliver, Grady Dodson, Mario Flores and Patrick Isherwood are all seeking to unseat Nunley.

34 thoughts on “Harrell seeks Jones’ seat on Tulare City Council

(Commenter ID is a unique per-article, per-person commenter identifier. If multiple names have the same Commenter ID, it is likely they are the same person. For more information, click here.)

  1. If your truly that committed to bringing change to the City of Tulare start with your public works director. Everyone in the public works dept know she us there only because her aunt is the finance director. She has neither the edycation,experience,or qualifications to even sigh off on civil engineer jobs ect. But she is quick to punish all who do their best work for the city but since she has no idea what a job consists of, she just throws her title around,a true ignorant B___h! Then work on your H.R.MANAGER another dumb b___h! Then help the workers remove C.L.O.C.E A. bcuz they really suck nuts! Take my word as an experienced worker. Then work will get done! Just saying.

  2. Mr. Editor
    This article is a good example of fake news. Defaming current council member Carlton Jones character. Know the facts before writing and publishing misinformation.

  3. I live in District 3 and do not plan to vote for Carlton Jones. He has consistently shown his inability to exhibit good judgement nor the ability to show the basic respect for toward this city council and those who work for the city nor the constituents he is supposed to be representing. He has cost this city far too much money with his attitude and actions, far more than the actual value of his services as a council member. As far as knowing what the facts are Valley Voice can substantiate every word printed in this article. If you have hardcore provable evidence to the contrary then by all means have them published…..simply send it to Valley Voice and they will print it. I trust Valley Voice to be fair and balanced when reporting the news and the readers can too. I’m talking about the news section…. please do not confuse it with the opinion section.

  4. A district council member should obtain the ability to handle all situations. Someone like Carlton Jones who doesn’t apologize for refusing to be disrespected,to be lied to,or to be mistreated. He has standards to step up or step out.
    Focuses on the pandemic that will make or break our city!!!!!

    • You are absolutely correct that Carlton Jones doesn’t apologize for one damn thing….HE is right, HE is being mistreated, and if his actions are called into question HE is being disrespected. Perhaps these are traits that you find admirable and are good enough for you but they are not to me. With these standards in my opinion HE needs to step down. This city shelling out large amounts of money to settle lawsuits because of his improper behaviors is not helping this city financially regardless of the pandemic. Perhaps you and anyone else who approves of his standards can start a Go-Fund-Me page to pay these settlements instead of the city having to pick up the tab. There just may be enough voters to keep him in office come this November. I believe that would be a shame and an embarrassment for this city. I personally won’t vote for him.

  5. Tulare needs proven leadership now more than ever . Steve Harrell is a perfect example of someone with PROVEN leadership . Steve was a leader in his role as a police officer. Steve as a member of the Tulare Hospital Board was instrumental in the reopening of the Tulare Hospital. Carlton Jones supported and was supported by the people who ruined the hospital. Steve as a Hospital board member worked to refinance the bonds which resulted in saving Tulare tax payers $54,000,000 dollars over the life of the bonds . Carton has cost the city close to a million dollars with his antics. That’s a million dollars of tax payer money. With Steve you know you are getting a leader that has already performed well for the people of Tulare . As a city council member he will continue to perform to the standards that the citizens of Tulare deserve . Tulare is getting back on track with leaders like Steve Harrell. Let’s complete getting our town back on a productive track. Vote for Steve Harrell for Tulare City Council

  6. The article and remarks discussing Councilman Jones are not an accurate portrayal of the councilman’s intentions. Councilman Jones has been exactly what this platform claims to be representing, a voice for Tulare. Mr. Jones listens to the concerns of the people and speaks on their behalf. For example, Sunrise Estates wanted a park, Councilman Jones made sure they received a park, but now he is having to protect it from becoming a campground for a growing homeless population. In the recent council meeting, not one council member defended their constituents besides Councilman Jones after numerous citizens pleaded for the homeless shelter to not be in a certain area. What we should be looking for is a person who is courageous and selfless enough to not care what people think but always stand for what is right by the citizens they represent. Councilman Jones has consistently done this for the past 12 years for the citizens of Tulare.

    Councilman Jones is exactly who needs to stay on city council because his interests are solely for the citizens of Tulare 100% of the time. There are instances where voicing opinions are frowned upon, but only a selfish person would take that into consideration when fighting for the right cause.

    One instance in which Councilman Jones had to have a difficult conversation discussing other council members’ conflict of interest was with decisions concerning loans to the hospital board. This situation involved an illegal process in which the hospital board received $9 million of taxpayer funds. One of the other council members claimed Rule of Necessity to un-recuse himself and now he is being investigated by the FPPC.

    The author also discusses the hospital board loan with the city. When board members mentioned that they had paid off the loan, Carlton thanked them and made a motion to close the line of credit. The board made it very clear that they still needed access to the city’s money; however, it is never in the city’s best interest to serve as a back to any institution. Councilman Jones was the only council member who understood the reasons why every bank denied the hospital board and attempted to protect the city as a bank protects its investors.

    Mr. Jones has also had to address the millions of dollars being wasted on Tulare’s WasteWater Treatment plant. These issues are questioned by the councilman because the outcomes have not been best for the citizens of Tulare and costs will eventually be passed on to the consumer in the form of rate hikes. No citizen wants to pay higher prices and Mr. Jones is defending their right to not have to if he can help it.

    Councilman Jones’ actions are consistent, selfless, and courageous. It is these attributes that represent the city of Tulare well.

    • Kind of curious of who you actually are. Pretty detailed remarks for the average citizen. Your initials wouldn’t be G.N. would they? Just asking.

      • And Mrs. Kane just to clarify my initials aren’t T.S either.

        You are correct though, I’m not an average citizen, I’m an educated one who pays attention to the actions that occur in our city. This is why I am able to confidently say that this article and comments you have made are not accurate.

        • One would think that anyone who is so confident in what he/she believes to be accurate whould have no problem in taking ownership of what they publish. Perhaps you are fearful of possible public backlash for defending Mr. Jones and feel it is far more advantageous not to reveal who you are, which of course is your right to do so. Either way I respect your opinion and your believe in Mr. Jones but I just disagree with you on his suitability as a representative on the city council. I am just as confident in my opinion of Mr. Jones as well which is why I published my name with my comment. I live in District 3 and I have the responsibility to vote for or against Mr. Jones. I take that responsibility very seriously. Nice communicating with you.

  7. Barbara Kane. I’ve been in Tulare for a long time. I’ve voted for a long time. One would think that rather than finding someone to represent your level of perfection, you would just run for a position. I don’t think Mr. Jones needs to defend himself against you. I imagine you have never supported Mr Jones for council and yet he won by a huge margin. My reply to this article was to address the falsehoods. I think District 3 likes how Carlton continues to represent the interest of the community. I hope they understand that a vote for Steve Harrell would be adding another Jose Sigala to council. The park they worked so hard for would be gone. You’re not going to beat Mr Jones in Sunrise, you’re not going to beat Carlton around Cypress and don’t even think about the Lincoln area. I’m not sure if it’s in you but have you ever tried to have a respectful conversation with your councilman? You don’t have to take shots at everyone.

    • No your reply to this article was not about addressing falsehoods because if that were indeed the case there would be no need to hide behind a pseudo name. Ironic that you would give a false name while accusing others of falsehoods. But again that is your right to hide your identity.

  8. Carlton Jones has MY VOTE! He fights for the interest of the people and is always willing to listen for change. I have actually had many conversations with him and he is not afraid to stand up for the citizens of Tulare, even if he is the only one to speak out in City Council. He acknowledges and looks for quick solutions in our city. VOTE FOR CARLTON JONES DISTRICT 3!

    • Johnny, you claim to be educated yet you also take Carlton Jones seriously. This is a massive contradiction. Where, exactly, and how far along were you “educated?” Grade school?

  9. Hmmmm……. all these supportive positive comments on Mr Jones behalf and only Alma has the courage and conviction to take public ownership of her beliefs. Interesting. Thank you Alma for your profile in courage in standing up for what you believe. I salute you!

    • Barbara,

      People around here are routinely bullied and harassed for speaking out publicly against police and the monied interests that they represent.

      You’ll have to excuse people for not wanting their lives ruined over having a minority opinion.

      • I have been called every name under the moon and told to go to places that don’t physically exist. It ain’t easy speaking out when the majority of people disagrees with every breath you take. My motto is that they don’t put food on my table, they don’t pay my bills, they don’t take care of me when I’m sick or down and out or share in my personal happiness so to heck with their opinion about me. Last I checked I’m still an American citizen with the right of free speech. I won’t be silent when I see something that I feel needs to be addressed. You want to discuss having a minority opinion try being a moderate Democrat in this partisan extremely conservative Republican town and county. I have relatives who won’t speak to me. Sad but true …. politics before family and politics before old friends and neighbors and politics before country. Sad but true …. it is what it is.

        • Barbara: thank you for speaking your mind! If I wish to disagree with you I hope I can do it in a diplomatic way! Too many people believe the 1st amendment is only for them. They’re too much like Trump; who feels he can shred everyone apart who doesn’t agree with his narcissistic behavior! “It is what it is”!

        • “You want to discuss having a minority opinion try being a moderate Democrat in this partisan extremely conservative Republican town and county. I have relatives who won’t speak to me.”

          Oh, boo hoo.

          Try being an actual Democrat and having your entire family destroyed for speaking out against corrupt local police.

          Did that happen to you for being a “moderate Democrat?”

          • Here Paul take this virtual hankie….you apparently need it far more than I. I don’t know you or anything about your family or recall ever hearing about any family being destroyed for speaking out against corrupt local police. But I am getting old and memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be. Enlighten me please. Just how was your entire family destroyed for exercising free speech? Share the who, what, and where info. I

          • Barbara–
            You can read all about it in our paper. I don’t remember the details in their entirety, but seem to recall it began with his wife, Holly, who sat on the Lemoore City Council. Catherine wrote the stories. Google Catherine Doe Holly Blair Valley Voice.

          • OMG I do remember now about your wife and of your family troubles. If Joseph hadn’t given me the tip on where to find the particulars I would have never made the connect. Wow you guys really had horrific issues to deal with. I certainly hoped your wife received the treatment she so obviously needed and has stayed on top of it. As for who is the blame…..I guess it depends upon your point of view…..how you view matters after all the dust settles and how much stress you are still feeling. I hope you, your children, and your wife are working closely in family counseling to help thread the waters. The struggle in dealing with mental illness becomes ten-fold when you have to deal with it publicly. Circle the wagons around each other and don’t let go….. family first.

  10. This is for Harrell seeks Jones’ seat on Tulare City Council” article comments . Not per-person commenter response.
    If had known I wouldn’t had disclosed my name either.
    Salute not Needed.

    • Alma never be afraid to say what you mean and mean what you say, especially if it is your truth. If I made you uncomfortable in publicly respecting and praising you my apologies. Wouldn’t want anyone to assume that you agree with me … That was not my intent.

  11. Carlton Jones was against the City line of Credit because he is worried about tax payer dollars. If he was so worried about the public’s money then he would not have acted the way he did with the Chief . That was corruption at its core . Carlton made with Carlini to fire the Chief because the Chief was investigating Carltons misuse of his city credit card . The reason Carlton was against the a line credit was because of his ties to Kumar . Carlton to this day blames the new board for the failure of the hospital . While he completely gives a pass to the old board and his close supporter Kumar . Carlton accepted money from Benzeevi. Ask Carlton if the new board is at fault then why did the DA charge Benzeevi with so many crimes ? Why hasn’t the DA filed charges against any of the new hospital board ? Having the courage to speak means nothing unless you are speaking the truth . Carlton’s loyalty isn’t with the people but it’s with Kumar and Benzeevi, the very people who cheated the people of Tulare . If you are going to comment but can not be honest enough to say your full name then don’t brag about having the courage to speak .

  12. Easiest way to tell a good leader.

    Who is focusing on the needs if the MOST vulnerable. Homeless.

    Not just special interest. Yes tax payers rights and safety is definitely important. Thats y folks should elect a leader that has innovative humane solutions.

    Does the leader care about homeless students throughout the district, do they care about rent hikes making people homeless. Homelessness cannot be addressed by police alone, house less folks need somewhere safe to sleep at night w out getting beat or raped. Folks have to use drugs to stay awake.

    Real issues out here. Folks should also present tangible plans to address this. What are the graduation rates, college entrance rates, drop out rates?

    What activities do children have to go to. Not just sports. Those are all real important issues. Anyone focusing on opponents should focus on presenting plans to address REAL issues. If someone thinks throwing a homeless person in jail is a solution. They r not the leader for me.

  13. I love seeing Xavier Avila endorse his partner in crime in the theft of the hospital from the good people of Tulare to sit on a second board just like he does.

    Nothing says “citizens rule” like old dudes, law and order types at that, taking multiple positions and encouraging their buddies to do so too.

  14. The city of Tulare is in desperate need of positive change starting with the city employees. The city is operating top-heavy budget that’s is in a deficit with huge wages to inexperienced managers drawing in six figures salaries. Most of those same managers have been terminated from the city of Visalia only to be hired in Tulare. I agree with the other comment. The HR Director has no background in HR and was given the job because the previous city manager was a friend. Two other mangers also friends of the city manager were hired and he created special six figures jobs that the public was not allowed to apply submit an employment application the city manager set his friends up nicely before resigning. The city needs to clean house and offer equal opportunities to everyone.

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