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January 3, 2006 > The 17 Candidates for City Council, 1956

The 17 Candidates for City Council, 1956

The special election for the City of Fremont was set for Tuesday, January 10, 1956. Voters were asked to vote on two measures: "For or Against Incorporation" and "For or Against the City Manager Form of Government."

Voters were also asked to vote for five "Members of City Council." The 17 council candidates were listed on the ballot in alphabetical order by last names, with a word or two to describe their occupation.

Winifred H. Bendel, the only woman on the ballot, was listed as "Housewife." Wife of Decoto's fire chief, Roland Bendel, she was a graduate of the University of California and made her mark as a long-time leader of many local organizations, serving as the first president of the Washington Township Historical Society and the first chairperson of the Community Concert Association. Bendel was active on the "steering committee" that investigated the requirements for incorporation.

B. J. Bunting was listed as a railroad worker because he worked as a leading signalman for the Southern Pacific Railroad at Niles. He was a third generation family member whose grandfather, John Bunting, had settled on a Centerville ranch in 1876.
B. J. was a graduate of Washington High and had served two years in the U.S. Merchant Marines.

Roy O. Dean, an engineer, came to Mission San Jose in 1948 and was the Mission Chamber representative to the Incorporation Committee. He was president of the Mission San Jose School Board when they sold the school building that became a temporary city hall in 1956.

Gordon Dubuque had been manager of Orangeburg's Newark pipe plant since its completion in 1953. He was born in Connecticut, served in the Seabees in World War II, then graduated from Columbia University as an engineer in 1949.

Robert W. Furrer, Sr., was a retired machinist. He was a native son and was active in labor organizations.

Harvey W. Jarvis was a retired chief petty officer, USN, having many years experience in accounting and business management. He lived on Broadway in Irvington.

Bruce Michael was chairman of the Boundaries Committee, a local farmer, and a prime mover for incorporating the area. He was interested in politics and ran for the Board of Supervisors in 1952.

Edward Nelson was a shipping supervisor at Pacific States Steel Corporation in Niles. He came to California as a child and later studied at Santa Clara University. He served with the 81st Infantry during the War. Mrs. Nelson, a former Army nurse, worked for a Centerville physician.

Joseph R. (Pete) Nunes was born and raised in Newark. He was employed as a security officer with Westvaco in Newark but lived in Centerville. He was active in his union, the American Legion and the Township Softball Association.

Robert E. O'Flaherty was listed as a salesman. He lived in Mission San Jose and was a veteran and former president of the Washington Township Democratic Club.

Michael J. Overacker, Jr. was a distinguished member of his pioneer family who graduated from local schools and then raised sheep and cattle on the family ranch on Mill Creek Road. He was clerk on the Mission San Jose School Board when he began helping with incorporation plans.

John A. (Jack) Parry was listed as an office manager-accountant. He was born in Niles, worked for Berchem Meat Company and on the Irvington Chamber of Commerce planning committee. Parry was also involved with Niles planning and assisted Bruce Michael on the Boundaries Committee.

Wallace R. Pond was a pharmacist, owner of a drug store in Irvington, and the first chairman of the Citizens Committee. Born in Woodland, he came to Irvington in 1926. He graduated from Washington High and University of California, and served in the Air Force in World War II.

Edward L. Rose was a lifelong Irvington resident and owner of Rose Hardware in the building known as Clark Hall. He was a well-known merchant and an active Irvington community worker.

Charles A. Russell was raised in Irvington by his grandfather, J. E. Wamsley. He graduated from Washington High, then learned the machinist's trade, rose in the ranks of the Federal Housing Administration and went into private business. Russell was politically active.

Willis D. Simpson was listed as a surveyor. He was also a veteran, an engineer, a businessman and a graduate of Carnegie Tech.

The last candidate on the ballot was John L. "Jack" Stevenson who was listed as an attorney and rancher. His family came to the township in 1852 and helped develop the Centerville area. Jack was involved in farming and property management as well as being a practicing attorney.

There they were, the 17 candidates, 16 men and one lady. All appear to be successful, contributing members of local communities. Sseveral were veterans and generally were proven leaders. A few were members of prominent local families, but others had been here only a few years. They generally supported incorporation, for if it did not pass, there would be no need for a city council. Now it was up to the voters. The future of the proposed City of Fremont would rest in their hands.

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