It is an unusual circumstance, but Escalon resident Dave Bellinger will be stepping in to fill a post on the city council on an interim basis.
Current first-term council member Peter Krumeich – whose term runs through 2022 – will be serving with the Army Reserves and has to step away from his city duties during that time. So, Bellinger was tapped for the post.
The council was able to appoint him to the council through state law, California Military & Veterans Code Section 395.8. City officials said the statute simply says that “the legislative body may appoint someone to fill the position for the remainder of the term, or until the officer returns from active service, whichever comes first.”
In this case, it likely will be short term, just until Krumeich returns.
“I’m excited, looking forward to this, I have the support of my family,” Krumeich said of his time with the Army Reserves. “I’m looking forward to coming back and serving out my term.”
Bellinger will temporarily take over on the dais and said he feels ready to fill the position.
“I grew up in Escalon, graduated (EHS) in 1985, then moved away and went to college, lived in Turlock for a while,” explained the newest council member, who officially takes over the seat on May 1.
After getting married, Bellinger said he wanted to raise a family where he grew up, so they made the move back to Escalon several years ago. He and his wife have two sons, a fifth grader and a sixth grader.
“I’m enjoying my hometown,” Bellinger said.
He also started taking an interest in the council and city government a few years ago.
“I started going to meetings and would ask, ‘we’re spending money on what?’,” he explained. “I’m a numbers guy by nature.”
Bellinger said it was about wanting more information, wanting to know how tax dollars were being spent and making sure the city residents were getting the most for their money that drove his interest in attending meetings. From there, he started considering a potential future run for the council and said the opportunity to fill in for councilman Krumeich is a perfect chance to try out the role. He also is excited to start “giving back,” which is a trait he learned from his dad, Al Bellinger.
“He was on the recreation commission for 20 years when I was a kid, he was involved in coaching,” Bellinger said.
His father also remains heavily involved in the local American Legion Gustafson-Thompson Post, serving as a member of the colorguard and helping to coordinate the monthly dinners that were hosted at the post rooms until the coronavirus put a temporary halt to the popular gatherings.
“Hopefully I can serve the city well,” Bellinger said, adding that he also feels the current council does a “pretty good job” of balancing services and costs and keeping the needs of residents in the forefront.
“They want people to participate,” he added, noting that an informed citizenry is good for everyone.
Personally, Bellinger said, he likes the size of the city and the continued commitment to slow growth but said that also comes with a cost. As the city looks to needed repairs and upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant and infrastructure, it will mean increases for all.
“Everyone has to pay their fair share,” he said, adding that it will also be important for the council to consider all options.
“We need to be fiscally responsible but spend wisely for the future as well,” Bellinger explained.
As the region grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, Bellinger said he is blessed and grateful that he “continues to get a paycheck” – working at Delicato Family Vineyards in Manteca – and is eager to see plans put in place to begin reopening local businesses in a safe and efficient manner.
When that is able to happen, he said, it will be more important than ever to keep dollars in the community.
“We need to buy locally, take a rest from Amazon for a while,” he said. “Get out of this quarantine and get those small businesses back up and running.”