Tubbs to run for Stockton Mayor in 2016

STOCKTON — City Councilman Michael Tubbs will run for mayor of Stockton in 2016, scrapping his candidacy for the county Board of Supervisors in favor of mounting an electoral challenge to incumbent Mayor Anthony Silva.

The 25-year-old Tubbs revealed his decision exclusively to The Record this week.

If elected, Tubbs would be the first black mayor in the history of Stockton. Additionally, it is believed he would be the youngest mayor of 300,000-resident Stockton in the city’s 165-year history.

Tubbs also would be among the youngest mayors ever of any large American city. Luke Ravenstahl was 26 when he became mayor of 305,000-resident Pittsburgh in 2006. If elected, Tubbs would be 26 at the time of his inauguration.

“It’s an incredible opportunity, an incredibly important position, as well,” Tubbs told The Record. “We’ve been talking about reinventing Stockton for three years.

“Being the mayor of a city as big as Stockton is a difficult job. Now is the time for visionary and effective leadership to really move the city forward, and my record on the council the past three years shows I’m the right person for the job.”

Tubbs joins Silva, Supervisor Carlos Villapudua and resident Gary Malloy in what is now a four-way mayoral race. Former Supervisor Steve Bestolarides had been expected to run until his recent appointment as county assessor.

The decision by Tubbs to run for mayor comes six months after he said he would forego seeking a second term as south Stockton’s District 6 council representative so he could run for supervisor.

Tubbs said earlier this year that holding countywide office as a supervisor would give him greater influence on issues he has been working on than he has as a councilman. He listed issues that included anti-recidivism, jail overcrowding, workforce development and services at the county hospital.

This week, though, Tubbs said being mayor would afford him the opportunity to have a citywide impact that he lacks as a councilman, even though mayoral powers are limited in Stockton’s city manager form of government.

“As mayor, what you lack in hard powers granted by the charter you make up for in influence and with the pulpit that being mayor provides,” Tubbs said.

Born to a teen mother and an incarcerated father, Tubbs was raised in south Stockton. After graduating from Franklin High School, he went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University.

At 22, Tubbs was elected to the City Council months after Stockton declared bankruptcy in 2012. His candidacy drew national attention because of the combination of his youth, his meteoric rise from a challenging background and a $10,000 campaign contribution from Oprah Winfrey.

Nearly three years later, Tubbs said his key accomplishments include the establishment of a health clinic at the Dorothy L. Jones Community Center off Airport Way; the opening of a bank branch in south Stockton; the founding of the Reinvent South Stockton Coalition community organization; the police department’s implementation of body cameras; and the city’s passage this year of a balanced budget with reserves of 20 percent.

Tubbs said he believes he can accomplish more as a fulltime mayor than he has been able to as a part-time councilman. He also said he wants to ensure Stockton sustains the progress it has made in recent years.

“I want to make sure we institutionalize these things and make sure we don’t go back to where we were,” Tubbs said. “Being mayor makes the most sense.”

Tubbs says he is prepared for questions about his maturity, some based on his age and others undoubtedly relating to his arrest last October for driving with a blood-alcohol level reported by the California Highway Patrol to be nearly twice the legal limit.

A subsequent apology by Tubbs did not prevent several public calls for his resignation after the arrest. Tubbs ultimately pleaded no contest to the DUI charges two months after he was stopped on Highway 99. He was required to pay a $3,200 fine and participate in a 30-hour treatment program.

Asked how the DUI might affect his mayoral candidacy, Tubbs said, “As soon as it happened, I called you up myself. I said, ‘This is what happened.’ I’ve apologized. I’ve gone through classes. I’ve used it as a learning opportunity for all the people I’ve talked to.

“I spoke to six or seven schools about the incident. I’ve talked about making the right choices and how to rebound if you don’t. In talking to community members, they don’t expect perfection, but production. Looking at what I’ve done the last three years, there’s no doubt who has the skills and experience to be mayor, and additionally, if I do make mistakes, I definitely learn from them.”

Critics, including Silva, also took Tubbs to task this summer for not recusing himself from a council vote to allocate $135,000 to Community Partnership for Families during the city’s budget process. Tubbs sits on the board of the Community Partnership nonprofit. Tubbs later recused himself from a second vote on the same funds, and the matter passed unanimously.

Tubbs and Silva have clashed several times since both came onto the council following the 2012 election.

Of Silva, Tubbs said, “I understand what a tough job being mayor can be. I applaud him for stepping up and running, but as a colleague on the council I can’t point to anything he has done but the Asparagus Festival and (July 4) fireworks. … Most of the great structural changes made happened in spite of him, not because of him.”

Tubbs said he is prepared for the possibility of a nasty campaign.

“I’m not sure the campaign will be any uglier than the past three years of public comment at the City Council,” he said. “I’ve been called everything in the book, lied (about) continually. This job is about being mentally tough and persevering and making an impact on people who need government to operate effectively.”

— Contact reporter Roger Phillips at (209) 546-8299 or Follow him at and on Twitter @rphillipsblog.

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