In Merced County, a state Assembly race with no opponent

Merced Sun-StarMarch 7, 2014 

— A number of candidates will run unopposed in the June primary election, including Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, who is seeking a second term in District 21.

Mike Lynch, Gray's campaign consultant, said it's "very rare" to have a candidate running for state Assembly without an opponent.

"It's very unusual and it's almost unprecedented," Lynch said. "I think it shows that Adam's approach to dealing with people and issues is the right approach. People respect him, and that's the kind of leadership they want."

Gray last month turned in more than 2,500 signatures from voters to gain a spot on the June 3 ballot.

The incumbent submitted 1,764 signatures to the Merced County Registrar of Voters office and 791 signatures to the Stanislaus County clerk-recorder office.

The deadline for candidates to file paperwork to run for office was 5 p.m. Friday, except the Sheriff-Coroner office, which was extended to 5 p.m. next Wednesday.

Several other Merced County elected officials won't have opposition in the primary election: District Attorney Larry Morse II, Superintendent of Schools Steve Gomes, Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder Barbara Levey, Auditor-Controller Lisa Cardella-Presto, and District 5 Supervisor Jerry O'Banion.

District 5 encompasses the cities of Dos Palos, Los Banos, Santa Nella, South Dos Palos and Volta.

With four candidates vying for the Sheriff-Coroner office, it's shaping up as one of the most highly anticipated races of the year. The candidates running for sheriff are Pat Lunney, 66, Frank Swiggart, 47, Vern Warnke, 55, and Jim Soria, 45.

Swiggart is head of the Merced Community College Police Department, which is operated by the Sheriff's Department. Lunney has been chief of investigations for the Merced County District Attorney's Office since 2008. He also served as chief of the Merced Police Department for 15 years.

Warnke is a retired senior sergeant and part-time deputy for the Sheriff's Department. Soria is an elected Livingston city councilman and security supervisor with Guardsmark, assigned to the Livingston Gallo Winery.

The incumbent, Sheriff Tom Cavallero, announced he will not be seeking re-election. Cavallero, 49, was appointed to complete the final year of former Sheriff Mark Pazin's term in office. Pazin left office in December 2013 after more than a decade to accept a position in Sacramento with the governor's administration.

Merced County Assesor-Clerk-Recorder Barbara Levey, who also serves as the Registrar of Voters, said the sheriff race could get Merced County residents excited to come out and vote.

"It absolutely could get people more interested and vested," Levey said. "On our side, we hope that means more people will participate and get out to vote."

Merced County Treasurer Tax-Collector Karen Adams, 56, will be challenged for the first time in nearly 10 years by Richard St. Marie, the director of administrative services at the Sheriff's Department.

The 48-year-old announced his candidacy for the treasurer-tax collector office to Merced Sun-Star late last month.

Merced County District 3 Supervisor Linn Davis, 70, who has spent three years on the board, is being challenged by three others: dairy manager William Snyder III, 49; retired police chief and Merced City Councilman Tony Dossetti, 64; and Congressman Jeff Denham's district representative Daron McDaniel, 49.

District 3 covers the areas of Atwater, north Merced, Franklin-Beachwood and McSwain.

Merced County Superior Court judges John Kirihara and Harry Jacobs are both up for re-election with no challengers.

Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, is also seeking re-election. Costa represents the 16th Congressional District, which includes all of Merced County. Costa is being challenged by five others: Johnny Tacherra, Joanna Garcia-Botelho, Mel Levey, Job Melton, and Steve Crass.

State Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, seeks another term in the 12th District. Cannella will run against challenger Shawn Bagley.

A candidate will win if he or she receives more than 50 percent of the vote during the June 3 primary. Otherwise, candidates go to a run-off election on Nov. 4.

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