NEWMAN - The Newman City Council is back at full strength.
Council members voted last Tuesday, Jan. 26, to appoint Scott Ball to a vacant seat on the city’s governing board.
Ball was one of five applicants who filed to fill the vacancy, which was created when Casey Graham vacated his council seat to become mayor.
Ball will fill the remainder of Graham’s City Council term, which expires in November 2022.
He was appointed by a 3-1 vote of the council.
Councilman Laroy McDonald favored applicant Troy Willis for appointment.
Walter Waite III, Alexander Shilshtut and Shane Tomlinson also applied. Each candidate had the opportunity to speak to the council via Zoom before Ball was selected.
He is a retired public safety officer who currently teaches part-time at Orestimba High School.
Ball has also coached a variety of local youth and high school sports since moving to Newman in 1998.
He told Mattos Newspapers that his love of Newman actually stretches back to 1987, when he started dating his wife, Mia (Fraga) Ball.
“That was when I started to fall in love with a town I had never heard of,” explained Ball. “I got to know Newman and to love Newman. I always wanted to raise our kids here. We came back to do that.”
Ball said he has long had an interest in serving in local government, but until recently lacked the time to do so.
Doing so, Ball said, is in many ways an extension of his interest in serving the community.
His career in law enforcement included serving as the chief of the Merced County Probation Department from 2010-16. In that role, Ball said, he worked with the Board of Supervisors and came to see elected officials in a new light.
“I have always held elected officials in high regard,” he explained. “Once I got to know the supervisors, I still held them in very high regard but realized that they are normal folks just like the rest of us. I would like to be able to have an impact on the community like they have; on a smaller scale.”
Ball said he also believes that his experience as a county department head provides valuable insight into the workings of government.
“I can understand the huge responsibilities of our department heads. There are things I can relate to from my own experience,” he explained.
Ball said public safety is “always going to be my top priority.”
He emphasized that Newman has excellent police and fire departments, each with strong leadership.
Ball said he is also open to exploring the benefits of future growth, but also advocates a candid evaluation of concerns that accompany development.
“I don’t want to see residential growth that causes some of the issues that you see in other areas that have expanded too quickly,” he commented. “I think our city has done an excellent job of balancing that.”
On his application, Ball also cited the need to maintain a strong community and expressed a desire for the city to remedy eyesore properties.
Ball said he plans to primarily listen while becoming more familiar with the council and the issues facing the city for a few meetings before jumping in to offer his input.
“I’m very excited,” he said of being appointed to the council.
Ball was sworn into office immediately following his Jan. 26 appointment and participated in the remainder of the meeting, during which he and other council members were appointed to fill a variety of committee positions.