June 4, 2014

Water key issue in Fresno County District 4 supervisors race

For now, Riverdale rancher Buddy Mendes is falling short of winning outright. He hopes that changes when all absentee and provisional ballots are counted.

Two supervisor seats and a spot on the Fresno County Superior Court bench remain up for grabs.

But Riverdale rancher Buddy Mendes thinks the official results could show he won the District 4 race Tuesday with more than 50% of the vote.

Unofficial totals show Mendes advancing to a fall runoff with 49.3% of the vote, compared to Daniel Parra, Fowler's mayor pro tem, who garnered 21.6%. To win outright, a candidate needs 50 percent plus one.

Should he have to move to the November election, Mendes said surface and groundwater issues will remain central in his campaign. Mendes said he has experience as a farmer to solve Fresno County's water problems, along with a good public safety platform.

Parra said he hopes voters see he has the experience needed to be a good supervisor -- citing his six years on Fowler's City Council. He described his campaign as "grassroots" -- knocking on doors and talking to voters principally about issues surrounding water, jobs and public safety.

In District 1, Brian Pacheco led with 37.2% of the vote. Pacheco, a dairy farmer who also serves on the Kerman Unified School District Board of Trustees, was just ahead of former Fresno City Council president Blong Xiong, who took 35.6% of the vote.

Pacheco said he'll continue to focus his campaign on water issues, creating jobs and public safety. His work managing a multibillion dairy industry also gives him the necessary financial background to help balance the county's budget, Pacheco said.

Xiong said his eight years on the council (he's termed out in January) has given him experience in multiple county issues, and that he's made tough decisions to help get Fresno "on the right track" in a downturned economy.

Water, public safety, jobs and jail releases are all big issues that Xiong said he'll focus on.

Runoff for judge's seat

In the Superior Court race, deputy district attorney Lisa Gamoian led with 34.5% of the vote, compared to the 29% going to second place opponent Rachel Hill, a former deputy district attorney.

Both Gamoian and Hill said jail overcrowding and early releases of inmates are major issues affecting the courts.

Gamoian said if elected, she'll focus on getting cases through the system quicker.

Hill said her experience as both a prosecutor and defense attorney gives her a good understanding of proper rehabilitative programs for some offenders, instead of jail time.

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