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White Vows To Keep Seat
Despite nearly two dozen people calling for him to step down from his position, Riverbank City Councilmember Jesse James White has said he intends to stay on the council and continue with his campaign for a State Assembly seat. That, despite his May 14 arrest on charges of possession of marijuana and possession of cocaine during a probation search of his home and car.

Though there was a regularly scheduled Riverbank City Council meeting on Monday night, May 24, White had contacted city officials prior to the session indicating he would not be attending due to a planned celebration for his parents' wedding anniversary.

That didn't keep citizens by the dozens from turning out to voice their concerns, and the meeting venue was changed prior to the session, moved to the Community Center in anticipation of a large crowd. An estimated 150 people attended and about 20 of them took the podium during the 'public comments from the floor' portion of the meeting, all suggesting or calling for White to take steps to remove himself from the council.

One speaker indicated that, as a public official, White should hold himself to a higher standard. City Mayor Virginia Madueno said while the councilman is not legally obligated to relinquish his seat, a citizen recall vote could be started toward that end if people were interested in pursuing that course of action.

"I believe I'm entitled to my due process rights," the embattled White said at a news conference he and his attorney Mary Lynn Belsher called on Wednesday (May 19) in front of the Riverbank police station.

"I see no impediment to him continuing his campaign for Assembly and remaining on the council, " attorney Belsher added at that earlier news conference.

White and Belsher claim White's arrest was "politically motivated" and part of a plot by City Manager Rich Holmer, Police Chief Bill Pooley and Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson to damage White's political career and remove him from the local council.

"Never in my experience, can I remember a probation search for such a minor matter as pot possession," said Belsher.

White added he'd never been subject to a probation search before.

Police indicated they decided to search him after his 19-year-old brother, Patrick, was arrested in January on drug charges and implicated him in talks with authorities.

White was arrested for driving under the influence in June of 2007 and is on probation after pleading no contest to "wet and reckless" driving after the initial charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and possession of a small amount of marijuana were reduced.

Madueno, along with council members Dan Fielder and Sandra Benitez, have called for White to resign. Holmer said according to state law he cannot be removed unless he is convicted of a felony. The police report was submitted last week. But as of Monday, the District Attorney had not filed a formal complaint.

Dotty Nygard, who led a failed 2009 recall movement against Jesse James White and his fellow councilmember and grandfather Dave White, said Riverbank Citizens For Fair Change might consider another such effort.

Jesse James White claims Holmer wants him removed from the council because he and his grandfather have blocked a city move to raise sewer system rates. He also has called for review and repeal of a pay study done several years ago that he said raised city employee salaries by up to 40 percent.

Holmer was the recipient of one of those raises.