Republican firefighter, farmer and business owner Heath Flora will go up against fellow Republican farmer and independent businessman Ken Vogel to see who will represent the 12th Assembly District in the Nov. 8 election. The district, which includes portions of Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, is currently represented by Kristin Olsen, who is terming out of the seat.
Following the primary election in June, the Assembly District 12 race was deemed a "Close Contest" by the Secretary of State's office. Results of the election were delayed for a few weeks as the votes were counted, showing a difference of less than two percent between Flora and Democrat Virginia Madueno. Eventually, it was revealed that Flora would take the second candidate spot, as the election numbers showed the firefighter and Vogel receiving the most votes.
Vogel, a lifelong farmer, hails from Linden and is a member of the San Joaquin and Stanislaus County farm bureaus. He has also served as an educator, ultimately working as principal within the Lodi Unified School District before his retirement in 2004, and was elected to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors in 2007 until terming out in 2014.
During a scheduled candidate forum in March, Vogel made it clear that if elected, his number one priority will be to address California's water shortage through means such as storage, salinization and ground water recharge.
A lifelong farmer as well, Flora has been a volunteer firefighter for over 15 years and now serves as a battalion chief. Flora is also a small business owner; his company sells used agricultural equipment. He is an advocate for bringing advanced care and treatment to long-term burn victims, and has dedicated time in Cambodia to building churches and English schools.
While Flora has made it known that water is one of his top concerns, he also hopes to focus on public safety if elected, noting at the March candidate forum that strong public safety brings businesses into the community.
The League of Women Voters of Stanislaus County is hosting an Assembly District 12 candidate forum from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19 in the City of Modesto / County of Stanislaus' Chambers located in the basement of the building at 1010 Tenth Street, in Modesto. The public is encouraged to attend the free event. Attendees must enter through the Tenth Street entrance.