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Cannella off to Sacramento
Anthony Cannella presided over his final meeting as mayor of Ceres Monday as he prepares to take his seat in the California State Senate.

Cannella defeated Democrat opponent Anna Caballero for the 12th Senate District in last week's election.

Cannella led Caballero, the former mayor of Salinas, with 93 percent of the votes counted. Cannella had collected 64,571 votes, or 53.1 percent, to state Assemblywoman Caballero's 57,200 votes, or 46.9 percent.

Cannella celebrated the favorable returns at a Republican election eve party at the Fat Cat nightclub in Modesto.

Although the district was gerrymandered to favor Democrats, Jeff Denham, a Republican, captured the seat in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006. State term limits prevented Denham from running for a third term. Denham captured the 19th Congressional District seat - held by George Radanvich - by defeating Madera Democrat Dr. Loraine Goodwin of Madera with 65 percent of the vote.

Cannella will take the oath of office on Dec. 3. Monday was his last meeting as mayor since the Nov. 22 City Council meeting has been cancelled.

Cannella said he enjoyed his time as mayor and said his election had a bitter-sweet flavor.

"I'm excited to go to the state Senate," said Cannella.

Vice Mayor Ken Lane said he was happy to "see another Ceres boy go to the state Legislature."

Cannella's father, Sal Cannella, is a Democrat who served in the state Assembly from 1990 to 1996.

The 12th Senate District includes the western portion of Stanislaus County, including Ceres, Empire, Newman, Patterson, Turlock, Keyes, Grayson, Westley, and west and south Modesto. It also includes all of Merced County, some of Madera County, the eastern portion of Monterey County and some of San Benito County.

A fiscal conservative, Cannella said his goals as a state legislator will be to create jobs, restore fiscal sanity to the state budget process and streamline regulation.

"I'm going to focus on the things that are most important to me and the things that are most important to me are putting people back to work," said Cannella. "And so what I'm going to focus on is just that - what can we do to change the economic climate in California so we can get out of the 20 percent plus unemployment rate in the Central Valley and over 12 percent unemployment rate in the state of California. We're beating everybody when it comes to negatives in the state and I think it's the way we're running our government."

Cannella's strongest showing was in the Valley, which accounts for three-fourths of the district's electorate. Caballero did well in her home turf of Monterey and San Benito counties.

Cannella, a lifelong Ceres resident and owner of a Modesto engineering firm, got his first taste of local government experience when he was appointed to the Ceres Planning Commission in 1999. He has spent most of his political career unopposed. While he did face opposition for his first Ceres City Council run in 2003, Cannella was unopposed for mayor in 2005 and 2007.

The Ceres City Council will likely fill the mayoral vacancy by appointment. Before the election the consensus among the council was to appoint Chris Vierra to the position because he's been on the council the longest.

Cannella and retiring City Manager Brad Kilger will be feted at a going away reception held at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19 at the Ceres Community Center. The public is invited to attend.

Election night was bitter-sweet for the Berryhill family of Ceres. State Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, D-Ceres, handily held onto his 26th Assembly district while brother and Assemblyman Tom Berryhill appeared to be headed to victory in his bid to move up to the state Senate in the 14th district.

Tom Berryhill, first elected to the state Assembly in 2006, won 71,288 votes, or 66.5 percent, with just 34.2 percent of the precincts reporting. Democratic candidate Larry Johnson of Clovis had 35,972 votes, or 33.5 percent.

Bill Berryhill was headed to a landslide victory over Democrat challenger Tim Weintz Sr. of Stockton. Late Monday the vote count had Berryhill up by 61 percent of the vote to 39 percent for Weintz.

Berryhill's 26th Assembly district stretches from Stockton to Turlock and includes Ceres.

Mike Berryhill, a cousin of Bill and Tom Berryhill, was trounced in his bid to unseat incumbent Democratic Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced.

Cardoza collected 53,490 votes, or 58 percent of the total, over Republican challenger Mike Berryhill of Turlock, who had 39,370 votes.

State voters returned Jerry Brown to the governor's seat, skipping over former eBay CEO Meg Whitman's pro-business and pro-jobs platform. California voters also re-elected U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, and rejected a proposition to legalize marijuana.