The mission of the Salinas Valley Leadership Group is to identify, recruit and support candidates for non-partisan local office who desire to serve their communities, exhibit qualities of leadership and integrity, and who will support the vital interests of business in the conduct of local government.
Incumbent - Salinas City Council District 3
Steve served as a Trustee for Hartnell Community College District between 2003 and 2007. He had one year as Chair and another as Vice Chair. He has been active in Rotary and the boards of Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity and the City of Salinas Police Commission. He is founder and past chair of the Central Coast Young Farmers and Ranchers. He served as State Chair for the Young Farmers and Ranchers and currently sits on the National Young Farmers and Ranchers Board.
Steve lives in South Salinas. When not working, Steve can be found running, traveling the planet or growing exotic fruits in his backyard.
Incumbent - Salinas City Council District 5
Kimbley Craig is a current re-election candidate for Salinas City Council District #5. Kimbley brings revitalized energy, successful management acumen and a combination of local knowledge and creative perspective to the city of Salinas. Her extensive record of community involvement, leadership experience, and business savvy are successful assets for City Council. District #5 encompasses Northridge Mall, Sherwood Shopping Center, Westridge Shopping Center, and the Salinas Auto Mall. With the city’s tax revenue deeply reliant upon the retail and automotive industry’s success, it’s important to recognize how critical these businesses are to the vitality of Salinas. Kimbley provides representation for local business support and development on the city’s council.
Incumbent - Monterey County Sheriff/Coroner
Sheriff Mike Kanalakis possesses extensive experience in law enforcement and is committed to protecting and serving the people of MontereyCounty. Sheriff Kanalakis, a life-long resident of MontereyCounty, has served as a highly decorated Deputy Sheriff for over 36 years.
As Sheriff, Mike Kanalakis also serves as a member of the Anti-Terrorism Approval Body (Approval Authority), which approves the distribution of Homeland Security Funds to various law and public safety agencies (law, fire, emergency medical services) throughout MontereyCounty.
Sheriff Kanalakis serves on the Supplemental Law Enforcement Oversight Committee, which administers various state law enforcement related grants throughout MontereyCounty. Sheriff Kanalakis is also a member of the Monterey County Chiefs Law Enforcement Officers’ Association, whose membership is comprised of chiefs of police from cities and the federal government, state prison wardens, and high-ranking officers of the California Highway Patrol. Sheriff Kanalakis is a member of the National Latino Peace Officers’ Association (Monterey County Chapter) and is actively involved with the California State Sheriffs’ Association, serving as Budget Chairman.
Candidate - Monterey County Board of Education Area 2
John McPherson has 25 years experience in the financial services industry, most recently serving as a Senior Vice President of Operations for HSBC, the world’s largest bank. After working for TRW in Southern California, John moved to Monterey County in 1991 to work for Household Credit Services, which HSBC purchased in 2003. At Household, John was part of the team that launched the GM Card and built Household Credit Services into one of the preeminent financial services companies in the US.
As Senior Vice President of Operations at HSBC, John managed a multi-million dollar annual operating budget and hundreds of employees in three states. The functions John was responsible for processing over one million items per day. He helped the company reduce annual operating expenses though streamlining and supplier negotiations. John also managed a large capital project in Salinas from inception to completion.
Incumbent - Salinas City Mayor
Dennis Donohue was born in San Fernando, California, in 1954. His family moved to Salinas in 1957 when his father Jim became the City’s Parks & Recreation Director, a post he held for nearly thirty years.
Dennis became a familiar face in Salinas last year as co-chair of the campaign committee for Measure V, a half-cent sales tax that rescued the City from a fiscal emergency. He was also on the Steering Committee of Rally Salinas!, a coalition formed to raise interim funds for Salinas’ threatened libraries. His work was recognized by the California Library Association, the State’s premier library organization, when it awarded him its President’s Award in 2005, and was appointed to the American for Libraries Council Board of Directors.
Dennis is married to the former Paula Johnson, who grew up on the old Williams Ranch in the Alisal. Paula, an alumna of Notre Dame High School, teaches physical education at Harden Middle School. Their daughter Emily, 24, works in agriculture, and their son Allan, 21, is a sophomore at Pitzer College.
Incumbent - Soledad City Mayor
Fred Ledesma, a life-long resident of Soledad was elected Mayor of Soledad in November of 2010. He previously served eleven years on the City Council as a Councilmember and Mayor. He currently serves on the Monterey County Association of Mayors and on the Association of California Cities Allied with Prisons. Mayor Ledesma currently sits on the City’s Parks and Recreation Committee. Mayor Ledesma is also the City’s alternate representative on the Transportation Agency of Monterey County Board of Directors. Mayor Ledesma serves as the City’s liaison representative to the Oldtown Soledad Beautification Association (OSBA) and to the Soledad Fiesta Days organization. Mayor Ledesma and his wife Gloria are proud to call Soledad their home.
Candidate - King City City Council
As a community member I want to be part of the solution not part of the problem. We all know the city has been going through difficulties in the past couple years and I think that I’m capable of helping out with my input.
One of the biggest problems that we have in town is gangs. We need to work together as a community with the police department. We all need to be united to fight that problem, and we need to implement new programs for the youth.
Working with youth for the last 17 years, I know that behind every student, there’s potential. We just need to find the way to get to them. If that requires implementing new programs, I am going to be for it. I’m not saying I will be the one that is going to make the changes, but with my input and the rest of the council, we can work together with the whole community to make this a better place.
Incumbent - King City City Council
Hughes has sat on the council for six years, having served as mayor for two years during that time. He served one full four-year term, and then called back to serve out the rest of the late Josie Campos’ term. Hughes is retired after 35 years with California Water Service.
“I think, as in the past, the city is still dealing with financial problems,” said Hughes. “I think that we as a team can work together and pull us out of it as long as the state doesn’t come in and take anymore money from us.” He said he hadn’t been considering re-running until his wife, Sharlene, talked him into how important it was. “Now is not a good time to drop out because there’s still some issues to work on.”
Incumbent - Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System
Harry Wardwell, a life-long resident of Salinas, attended North Salinas High School, and graduated with an Associate Arts degree in business Administration from Hartnell College. He has been in business and banking for nearly 40 years.
Harry has served as Past President of the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce, Salinas Jaycees, Salinas Rotary Club, and the Foundation of Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital. He has been involved with the California International Airshow for nearly 30 years, serving as Board President and currently the Executive Director. In 1992, he was recognized as the Citizen of the Year for the City of Salinas.
Wardwell has been a member of the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System Board for the past 10 years. He is committed to lowering the cost of healthcare in our community, making the hospital accessible to all residents, and utilizing his years of financial experience to help wade through the complexities of healthcare reform.
Incumbent - Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System
A Salinas, California native, and graduate of Hartnell College, Jim Gattis has been active in business and community activities locally for most of his life. He opened and operated two retail stores, and currently runs a business is Salinas investing in the redevelopment of commercial real estate.
He is a Founding Director and Past President of the California International Airshow in Salinas. Jim served as Past Secretary of the International Council of Airshows, and was awarded with the International Council of Airshows Wilkinson Sword of Honor in 1985. He was presented with the Spirit of Community Award and was named Citizen of the Year by the Salinas Chamber of Commerce and Humanitarian of the Year by the Salinas Jaycees. The Monterey Bay Boy Scouts presented him with the Humanitarian Good Turn Award in 1997. Jim served as President of the Hartnell College Foundation and received their Distinguished Service award. After serving on the Community Foundation for Monterey County, he and his wife, Jeri, were presented the Distinguished Trustee Award. He also served on the board of the National Steinbeck Center, receiving the Trustee of the Year award in 2001. Jim is a member of the Salinas Rotary Club, the President’s Council at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) and is a Fellow of CSUMB. He serves on the board for First National Bank of Central California.
Incumbent - Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System
Deborah Nelson received a Master of Science Degree in Nursing from Boston University. She entered healthcare by way of the Navy, rising from enlisted status to Captain where she served in multiple positions of leadership.
She has been a nurse practitioner in women’s health care and primary care in Salinas for over 20 years. Her practice includes a multicultural representation of Salinas. She is fluent in Spanish. Nelson has also been an educator of student nurses for Hartnell College at Natividad Medical Center and on the critical care staff at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital. The Association of Hospitals and Health Systems named her Trustee of the Year and California State University recognized her as a Distinguished Fellow for her military medical achievements.
Nelson has been a member of the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System Board since 1988 and currently serves as Vice President. As a nurse practitioner, she understands the need for improved access to excellent medical care. Debby is a strong leader that responds to the rapidly evolving ways health care is delivered in our community.