Kings County Supervisor Valle set to challenge Vidak

The Bakersfield CalifornianJanuary 4, 2014 

Kings County Supervisor Richard Valle said Friday he plans to run for the state Senate seat held by Hanford Republican Andy Vidak.

Valle joins fellow Democrat Luis Chavez, a Fresno Unified School District trustee, in contesting the seat vacated in February by former Shafter Democrat Michael Rubio, who left the Senate to take a government affairs job with Chevron.

The 16th District that Vidak represents will essentially become the 14th District as a result of redistricting. Candidates will run in a June primary, with the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advancing to the November general election.

Valle said he decided to run for the seat when Vidak defeated Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez in a high-profile special election in July. Perez has said she will not run for the Senate this year.

While Perez won a majority of votes cast in Kern and Fresno counties, Vidak carried Kings County by a wide margin. Valle said he hopes to cut into Vidak's support in Kings to give the area a stronger voice in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

Valle, a 43-year-old Corcoran native and father of two, said he has spent the last few months meeting with supporters in Kern and elsewhere. He addressed the Fresno County Democratic Central Committee in March when the race to replace Rubio was getting started, but didn't run for the seat then.

After serving as a field representative for former Assembly Member Nicole Parra for six years, he was elected in 2008 to the Kings County Board of Supervisors. He was re-elected in 2012.

In 2010, sexual assault charges were leveled against Valle from an incident at his home that year and an alleged incident in 2006. But the prosecutor dropped charges in May 2012 on grounds of lack of evidence to convict, and Valle claimed exoneration.

A vocal opponent of California high-speed rail, Valle said he has advocated statewide on behalf of the Central Valley as a member of the Latino Water Coalition.

Chavez, a south Fresno resident with a background in education and health care, announced his candidacy in November. He said Friday that many of the district's biggest issues -- public safety and economic development among them -- tend to be nonpartisan.

The Fresno Bee contributed to this report.

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