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Candidates lining up to run for office

With new district lines drawn that will likely confound voters, more candidates have thrown their hat in the ring for state offices as well as the congressional districts as the June 7 primary draws closer.

Friday was the candidate filing deadline for the June 7 Statewide Primary Election. Under California law, filing is now closed except for Stanislaus District Attorney in which incumbent Birgit Fladager did not file with the county elections official. 

Criminal prosecutor Jeff Laugero has filed as a candidate for DA. The filing period extends five days for non-incumbents to 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 16.

On Monday, March 14, the Secretary of State will determine the extension status for federal and state Offices.

Ceres and Keyes will be removed from the 10th Congressional District – represented by Josh Harder, D-Turlock – and placed into the 13th Congressional District. Harder is now running in the 9th Congressional District. Running for the 13th District seat are state Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced; Hughson farmer and businessman John Duarte, who is president of Duarte Nursery, Inc.; Democrat first-time candidate Angelina Sigala of Modesto and Phil Arballo, a Valley native who was defeated by Republican Devin Nunes in the 2020 congressional election.

The 13th CD reaches up to Lathrop, down through Patterson and Mendota and into Coalinga of Fresno County.

Just a day after winning the endorsement from the California Democratic Party, Gray officially submitted his nomination papers in Merced. He is the only candidate for the office who lives in the newly drawn district.

“This Valley is my home,” said the five-term Assemblyman. “It’s where I was raised, where my friends and family live. Every day I see how hard everyone is working to make this place better and stronger and provide opportunities for everyone who lives here. That’s what we’re about.”

Gray has led the fight to develop water storage, create a Valley medical school at UC Merced, fight gang violence and forge a commuter rail link between the Valley and the Bay Area.

“Our Valley cannot and will not be ignored by Congress,” Gray said. “Our challenges are great, but so are the contributions that the people of this Valley bring to the table. As part of the San Joaquin Valley, we help feed the world, but we can and will do more.”

Gray has been endorsed by sheriffs Vern Warnke of Merced County, Margaret Mims of Fresno, and Jeff Dirkse of Stanislaus as well as Congressman Jim Costa and U.S. Senator Alex Padilla.

Arballo, a small businessman from Fresno, has taken shots at frontrunner Gray, saying Gray “might call himself a Democrat, but campaign donations available in the public record show that he is bought and paid for by special interest groups that don’t care about people’s health, our children, or the environment.”

State Senate

With Ceres now in the 4th state Senate District, candidates who are running include former Ceres City Councilman and businessman Jeff McKay, a Republican; former Republican Congressman George Radanovich; retired court judge Steve Bailey, a Republican; and Republicans Jack Griffith and Jolene Daly. Tim Robertson has also taken out a nomination signature petition. Michael Gordon, president of the Rescue Union School District Board of Trustees in El Dorado County, announced his candidacy for the 4th Senate District in January.

“Across California and Senate District 4, we’ve seen the consequences of government making decisions for parents,” stated Gordon, a Republican, states in a news release. “I believe in school choice and the rights of parents to decide what’s best for their children. We can’t let those liberties be taken away from us.

“I want to keep our communities safe and fight for an affordable California,” he continued. “I hope to be a voice of reason in the state Senate, while representing our conservative values. If we are going to change California, we must change the people we send to Sacramento.”

Radanovich, a 66-year-old Mariposa Republican, formerly served in Congress from 1995 to 2011. He cites water, the economy, transportation and infrastructure and public safety as crucial issues facing the rural part of the state.

“This is the district where I was born, lived and farmed and where my family started a business in 1955,” noted Radanovich in a news release. “Over the last several weeks, I have heard from community leaders urging me to run because our district needs a state Senator who understands the agricultural, resource and recreational based economy of our district and who has the proven ability to get things done.”

The new 4th state Senate district encompasses all of Stanislaus County and takes in the vast area to Lake Tahoe south to Inyo County. The district, which runs 636 miles from the north to the south, has a four percent Republican Party registration advantage. It also includes part of Plumas County and all of Calaveras, Amador, Alpine, El Dorado, Tuolumne, Mariposa and Mono counties. The 4th District is currently represented by Senator Jim Nielsen, who is not seeking reelection due to term limits.

McKay, a 60-year-old Republican who graduated from Ceres High School in 1979, said he’s tired of the direction of California.

“We’re losing jobs, crime is up, fires keep ravaging our state, and our farmers don’t have water,” said McKay. “Politicians have been fumbling the basics for too long. I’m running for State Senate so if my daughters decide they want to start a family or a business, they want to do it in California because it’s safe, affordable, and livable for not just their generation, but for generations from now.”

Steve Bailey, an El Dorado County Republican, is also running for the state Senate seat. He is a retired Superior Court judge and was the Republican nominee for California State Attorney General in 2018. He recently was endorsed by the Placer County Republican Central Committee.

A Marine veteran and small business owner, Bailey said Californians are hurting from “ill-conceived criminal reform policies that have made California neighborhoods less safe.” He also said that “California’s oppressive regulatory policies are shattering Californian’s Golden State dream.”

Bailey said he would “fight intrusive government overreach while working to make California a safer place for our families.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bailey represented businesses and individuals in conjunction with his non-profit, California Constitutional Rights Foundation, victimized by punitive COVID-19 restrictions. He continues to help those that are the target of unconstitutional government dictates. Bailey assisted Turlock Unified School District Trustee Jeffery Cortinas who was sued by his own board that would have compelled him to wear a mask during school board meetings. Bailey filed suit on Cortinas’ behalf and the board dropped its suit.

“Heavy-handed politicians are willing to gamble with people’s lives to further their agenda,” said Bailey. “Fortunately, we have a constitution that protects a person’s fundamental rights. I commend Mr. Cortinas for his courage to take a stand on behalf of Turlock parents and students.”

Jack Griffith is a 39-year-old Beyer High School graduate and military veteran who now resides in Turlock.

After starting a non-profit to help local veterans with legal consultation in 2016, Griffith said he frequently sought help from local politicians but was often left hanging.

“That really bummed me out, and it got me to the point where I realized that politicians aren’t here to solve problems,” Griffith said. “They’re just here to shift problems, because they solve them, why do we need them?”

As a Purple Heart recipient, Griffith knows the struggles of returning home post-war and the suffering which often accompanies it, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He’d like to focus on veterans’ rights if elected, as well as issues like the overtime tax, which he sees as hurtful to businesses, and immigration reform which includes an achievable pathway to citizenship for immigrants.

Republican Jolene Daly decided against running for Congress and is now running in the 4th state Senate District. She said she was heartbroken how Stanislaus County was split into two different congressional districts.

“It’s a little intimidating,” Daly said of the new district’s size. “It’s a little large but I am up for the challenge.”

Born and raised in Turlock, Daly is currently a marriage and family therapist and has a master’s degree in clinical psychology.

“I believe in faith, family and freedom,” said Daly, who is a Christian who is opposed to mandates relating to COVID.

“We need a balanced budget,” said Daly.

The key to getting a grip on California’s problems, she feels, is local control.

“We need smaller government, not larger government. And that’s what a lot of people in government positions are doing – they want to make more laws and more laws and more laws. It needs to go back to the communities.”

She supports coastal communities relying more heavily on desalinization plants so the Central Valley can keep its water for farming and city use.

State Assembly

A growing number of candidates are planning to run for the 22nd state Assembly District. They include Chad Condit of Ceres, attorney Jessica Self, former Sheriff candidate Juan Alanis, Guadalupe “Lupita” Salazar, Joel Gutierrez Campos and Sean Harrison.

In the 9th Assembly District, Heath Flora, a Ripon Republican, is seeking re-election. His district has retained Hughson.

A number of incumbent Stanislaus County Superior Court judges will be seeking re-election this year and thus far appear to be unopposed. They are:

• Shawn D. Bessey, Judge in Office 1.

•  Alan Cassidy, Judge in Office 2.

• Ricardo Cordova, Judge in Office 3.

• John Freeland, Judge in Office 4.

• Marcus L. Mumford, Judge in Office 5.

• Dawna Frenchie Reeves, Judge in Office 6.

•  Ruben A. Villalobos, Judge in Office 7.

Most of Ceres is represented in the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors District 5 which is represented by Channce Condit who is not up for election this year. But voters who live a small portion of District 4 south of the Tuolumne River in “no man’s land” and Ceres bounded by the area north of Hatch Road and east of Central Avenue as well as the River Oaks Golf Course and the homes around it and Parks Road north of Hatch Road, will be electing a supervisor. The term of Manmeet “Mani” Grewal is up for decision and his opponents are Melissa Kelly and Joel DeGraef. Grewal was appointed to fill the seat in December 2020 left vacant by the Aug. 29, 2020 death of Supervisor Tom Berryhill.

The term of Channce Condit will be expiring next year.

Stanislaus County Assessor Don H. Gaekle is seeking re-election unopposed.

County Auditor-Controller Kashmir Gill is also running unopposed.

Donna Linder, the county clerk-recorder, is also unopposed.

Also unopposed are Superintendent of Schools Scott Kuykendall, Sheriff Jeff Dirkse and Treasurer-Tax Collector Donna Riley.

California voters will also be electing a governor, two U.S. Senators, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, Member of State Board of Equalization, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

There will be two ballot items for the same U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Democrat Alex Padilla. One is a special election to fill the seat vacated by Kamala Harris when she resigned to become vice president. The other race is for the general election to fill the six-year term beginning with the 118th United States Congress  on Jan. 3, 2023.

Padilla is running in both elections. A jungle primary for each of the terms will take place on June 7. The top two vote-getters in each primary election, regardless of party, will advance to the special and regular general elections in November.