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State Legislature candidates line up for local seats
State Senate candidates - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Over a month has passed since the candidate filing deadline for both the California State Senate and Assembly elections, bringing forward hopefuls vying to replace District 8 Senator Tom Berryhill and District 12 state Senator Anthony Cannella, who are terming out of office, and just one challenger to face incumbent District 12 Assemblyman Heath Flora.

A top-two primary election for both positions will be held June 5 and will mark the first time that Senate District 8 and 12 will have open seats in eight years, with Cannella serving as senators since 2010. Four candidates have filed to claim Berryhill's soon-to-be open seat, and another four would like to take Cannella's.

Senate District 12 voters will also have four options to choose from when voting in June.

Currently on her final year and term in the State Assembly, Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) is running for Senate District 12 with a platform that will focus on clean drinking water, quality education, housing and healthcare. Prior to her service as an Assembly member, Caballero served as a councilmember and mayor in Salinas.

"In each of these positions, I have been elected by and have represented rural, agricultural communities," Caballero said. "We need someone who knows how to get things done and who will fight for rural California and for agricultural communities. I am that person."

Fowler Mayor Pro-Tem Daniel Parra is also running for Senate District 12. Parra lost a bitter 2016 primary battle with Emilio Huerta for the No. 2 spot in the 21st Congressional District race, which Republican David Valadao eventually won. In 2014, Parra lost the Fresno County Supervisorial District 4 race.

Johnny Tacherra (R-Fresno) hopes to become District 12's state senator as well. He ran to represent California's 16th Congressional District in 2016 and 2014 and his Facebook page describes his political views as "very conservative." If elected, he hopes to work to decrease the size of the government and protect agriculture.

Madera County Supervisor and farmer Rob Poythress hopes to decrease business regulations, ensure reliable water supplies and ensure citizens get "more" from their elected leaders if he wins the race for Senate District 12.

"As a county supervisor, I have seen how the big city politicians who run Sacramento raise our taxes but fail to give us our fait share of state resources," Poythress said.

In the California State Assembly, all 80 seats are up for election in 2018. One candidate, Robert Chase, has filed to run against Assembly District 12 incumbent Heath Flora, while no candidates are opposing Assembly District 21 incumbent Adam Gray, who represents Ceres.

In an election where Democrats nationwide have promised to flip districts from red to blue, Flora is more concerned about voting for his constituents' interests rather than party lines ad advises voters to do the same for themselves.

"My job is not necessarily to be Republican, it's to represent the entire district," said Flora. "People who become focused on the letter behind my name are going to be disappointed in whoever they vote for. We have to represent everybody. We have to try and be better about being educated on the issues and not be such partisan voters."

Flora's first year in office saw many victories, he said, like securing more land for farmers and the passage of his first bill, which created a firefighter apprenticeship program in the area. He sees national politics playing a huge role in the campaign trail this year, like issues with marijuana and immigration, but if reelected, hopes to focus most of his energy on creating a partnership between the Silicon and Central valleys to create more technological opportunities for the area's agriculture industry.

Chase, an attorney from Modesto, has filed to run against Flora.

"I devoted my entire career to defend the Constitution and ensure that all people obtain justice," he said.

Chase's priorities, according to his campaign website, include fighting for tax fairness and equity, education, universal health care and holding government leaders accountable.

"We need to hold our government officials accountable for their actions," he said. "Our democracy is stronger when everyone participates and no one group has an outsized influence on our politics."

The top two vote getters in each race following the June 5 primary election will move on to the Nov. 6 general election.