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Dirkse becomes next sheriff
• Juan Alanis unable to close vote gap
Jeff Dirkse
Sheriff's Department Lt. Jeff Dirkse was elected last week as the new sheriff of Stanislaus County. - photo by Contibuted

Stanislaus County voters hit the polls for the primary election June 5, deciding on multiple representatives and propositions in the process.

The race to see who will lead the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department appears to be over, as Jeff Dirkse had received a majority of the vote as of 10 p.m. Tuesday. Dirkse received 35,861 votes (or 52.66 percent), while Juan Alanis received 32,063 votes (or 47.09 percent).

The two candidates were at odds during their respective campaigns, taking shots at each other both on social media and through public statements. The Stanislaus Sworn Deputies Association, which endorsed Dirkse, posted a letter to Facebook in May which detailed Alanis’ employment history, including poor performance ratings.

In response, Alanis had contested the claims and put his personnel file up for viewing on his website. During his campaign, Alanis has been vocal in criticizing Sheriff Adam Christianson, who has endorsed Dirkse, for his alleged mistreatment of employees.

Three education veterans were vying to become Stanislaus County’s new Superintendent of Schools on June 5.

Gratton School District Superintendent Shannon Sanford, Waterford Unified School District Superintendent Don Davis and Stanislaus County Office of Education Assistant Superintendent Scott Kuykendall all tossed their hats into the ring to replace County Superintendent Tom Changnon, who announced in January that he would not be seeking reelection.

As of Monday, Kuykendall had received 28,795 votes (or 42.98 percent), while Sanford and Davis had received 20,545 (30.66 percent) and 17,399 (25.97 percent), respectively.

California State Senate and Assembly races were also narrowed down on June 5.

With Ceres Republican Anthony Cannella being termed out of his 12th District seat in the California State Senate, four candidates were on the ballot. Heading to the November election are Salinas Democrat Anna Caballero, who picked up 31,683 votes (or 41.8 percent) and Madera County Supervisor and Republican Rob Poythress, who collected 20,357 votes (or 26.9 percent). The primary election results took out of commission Fowler Mayor Pro-Tem and Democrat Daniel Parra who had just 6,261 votes and Republican Burrel-based dairy farmer Johnny Tacherra and his 17,510 votes.

State Assemblyman Adam Gray was unopposed in the state Assembly 21st District race and picked up 32,584 votes. Because he was unopposed, 5,379 voters skipped marking their ballots for this race. Gray was elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2016 after Republican Greg Opinski withdrew from the race. His district encompasses most of Ceres.

A sliver of east Ceres and all of Hughson falls in the 12th state Assembly District which is represented by Heath Flora, a Republican who was elected two years ago. He was challenged by Democrat Robert D. Chase, a Modesto attorney.

In the California State Assembly, District 12 incumbent Heath Flora defeated Democratic challenger Robert D. Chase with 41,556 votes (63.1 percent), compared to Chase’s 24,300 votes (36.9 percent).

Ceres attorney Tom Hallinan was one of two top vote-getters in the race for the District 1 seat on the California State Board of Equalization. The Democrat collected 393,531 votes (38.4 percent) with second place going to state Senator Ted Gaines, a Republican, who amassed 334,971 votes, or 32.7 percent. The two knocked out third place finisher, former state Assemblywoman Connie Gaines who is a Republican.  The Board of Equalization is responsible for reviewing, equalizing, or adjusting property tax assessments, assessing taxes on insurers, and assessing/collecting excise taxes on alcoholic beverages. It also acts as the appellate body for corporate franchise and personal income tax appeals. In an ironic twist, Hallinan said he wants to see the board eliminated if elected, saying there is “simply no reason for the state Board of Equalization (BOE) to exist in the 21st Century. He said that recently, the governor and the Legislature stripped “this anachronistic agency of 90 percent of its functions.”

Birgit Fladager had received the most votes for District Attorney as of Tuesday, moving one step closer to reassuming the role. If she reaches 50 percent plus one vote, she will not face a runoff election in November. In total, Fladager received 32,970 votes , or 48.5 percent, so far. John R. Mayne is the closest candidate behind her with 15,628 votes (or 22.99 percent). 

In the race to see who will replace Gov. Jerry Brown, Democrat Gavin Newsom came out on top, receiving 1,668,085 votes statewide for 33.9 percent of the vote. Newsom’s popularity was weak in Stanislaus County which only gave him 23.68 percent of the vote with 17,656 votes. Newsom finished second in Stanislaus County to Republican John H. Cox, who received 31.82 percent of the county vote with 23,733 votes. Cox finished second in voting statewide with 1,277,737 votes, and will face off against Newsom in the November election.

The lieutenant governor race is headed to a November run-off as no candidate took 50 percent of the vote. Democrat Eleni Kounalakis came out as the vote leader, receiving 23.8 percent of the statewide vote, or 1,103,864 votes. She was followed closely by fellow Democrat Ed Hernandez, who received 953,068 statewide votes (or 20.5 percent), and Republican Cole Harris, who received 839,848 (or 18.1 percent).

It appears that Democrat Alex Padilla is on his way to the November election to win back his role as California Secretary of State, which showed him receiving over 52 percent of the statewide vote, or 2,441,457 votes. He wins in the field of eight candidates given that his percentage was above 50 percent. Coming in second place was Republican Mark Meuser who had 1,487,223 votes, or 31.7 percent.

Democrat Betty T. Yee won the race to become State Controller, collecting 2,834,398 votes and 61.5 percent of the total vote. She also won by a large margin in Stanislaus County with 52 percent of the vote. She was followed by Republican Konstantinos Roditis, who received 35.6 percent of the vote and will join Yee in the November election.

Another landslide victory was determined Tuesday night for Democrat Fiona Ma, who will head to the November election for Treasurer after receiving 2,025,685 votes, or 43.8 percent of the vote. Republican Greg Conlon was the closest to her, with 997,749 votes (22.8 percent). In Stanislaus County, Ma was also the top vote-getter with 26,238 votes.

California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra will face Republican Steven C. Bailey in November. The Democrat incumbent amassed 45.3 percent of the vote (2,122,870 votes).

Republican Steven C. Bailey finished behind Becerra with 1,164,676 votes, or 24.9 percent.

Becerra, a longtime congressman, was appointed last year by Gov. Jerry Brown to fill the AG seat vacated when Kamala Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate. He has spent much of his time in office suing the Trump administration to halt or reverse policies he insists are harmful to Californians.

Democrat Ricardo Lara and Steve Poizner (no party preference listed) were in a close race for Insurance Commissioner as of Tuesday, with Poizner receiving 40.3 percent of the vote and Lara receiving 40.3 percent of the vote.  In Stanislaus County, Poizner received 33,402 votes while Lara received 22,030. Poizner was ahead of Lara by over one million votes statewide, however, both will head to the November election.

In the race for Superintendent of Public Instruction, Marshal Tuck and Tony Thurmond will head to the November election. Tuck received 1,597,243 votes (37.4 percent) and Thurmond received 1,497,385 votes (35.1 percent).

Voters weren’t just voting for representatives on Tuesday; they also had some measures to consider.

Proposition 68 received 2,658,869 to pass but did not pass in Stanislaus County by a vote of 37,108 to 32,009. The measure authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds for parks, natural resources protection, climate adaptation, water quality and supply, and flood protection, and local government savings for natural resources-related projects will likely average several tens of millions of dollars annually over the next few decades.

Proposition 69 also passed statewide with 3,810,637 “yes” votes (80.8 percent). In Stanislaus County, 84 percent of voters cast a ballot in favor of the proposition, which requires that certain revenues generated by a 2017 transportation funding law be used only for transportation purposes and generally prohibits Legislature from diverting funds to other purposes. There will be no direct effect on the amount of state and local revenues or costs, but it could affect how some monies are spent.

Proposition 70 did not pass statewide, by a margin of 36 percent to 64 percent. In Stanislaus County, 37,108 voters chose “no” for the proposition, while 24,622 voted “yes.” Beginning in 2024, the proposition would’ve required that cap-and-trade revenues accumulate in a reserve fund until the Legislature, by a two-thirds majority, authorizes use of the revenues. Beginning in 2024, there would also be a potential temporary increase in state sales tax revenue, ranging from none to a few hundred million dollars annually, and possible changes in how revenue from sale of greenhouse gas emission permits is spent.

Proposition 71 passed statewide with 3,530,737 “yes” votes and countywide with 74.6 percent of the vote. It provides that ballot measures approved by a majority of voters shall take effect five days after the Secretary of State certifies the results of the election.

Proposition 72 permits Legislature to allow construction of rain-capture systems, completed on or after January 1, 2019, without requiring property-tax reassessment, and passed statewide thanks to an 84 percent “yes” vote and a 80.08 percent county wide “yes” vote.

Voters in two Stanislaus County supervisorial districts voted for new supervisors. Neither district involved Ceres voters.

District 3 Supervisor Terry Withrow came out on top of the vote with 5,134 votes (44.24 percent) while outdistancing himself from Modesto Vice Mayor Tony Madrigal who collected 3,939 votes (33.94 percent). Businesswoman Katherine Borges came in last place with 2,498 votes, or 21.52 percent. Because no candidate received at least 50 percent plus one vote, the election goes to a run-off in November.

In the race to fill the District 4 seat being vacated by Dick Monteith, Tom Berryhill and Frank C. Damrell will be headed to a November election as well. State Senator and Ceres native Tom Berryhill was the highest vote-getter with 7,220 votes, or 42.73 percent, while Frank Damrell collected 5,567 votes, or 32.95 percent. Knocked out of the race was former Modesto City Councilwoman Janice E. Keating who came in third place with 4,078 votes, or 24.14 percent.

Voters in the Hughson Fire Protection District rejected Measure U which would have implemented a special tax of $130 per year per residential units to fund firefighting personnel, including training, maintain and acquire emergency vehicles and lifesaving equipment. The measure needed two-thirds majority for passage but went down in a 1,084 to 1,010 vote count. Only 51.77 percent of voters supported the tax.