Madera County law enforcement candidates Jay Varney and David Linn won big Tuesday in their races for sheriff and district attorney.
With all 100 precincts reporting, Varney — Chowchilla’s chief of police since 2004, also currently serving as Chowchilla’s acting administrator — won 57.8% of the vote, compared to Undersheriff Michael Salvador at 41.9%.
Varney will replace Sheriff John Anderson, who is retiring after serving in the post for the past 16 years. Anderson had endorsed Salvador, who served the department throughout Anderson’s tenure. Salvador, 49, of Madera, has been with the sheriff’s office since 1997.
Varney credited his success largely to his ability to “empathize” with the concerns of Madera County residents. Varney said he’s met with as many individuals and groups as possible throughout his campaign. Another boost: Winning the endorsement of five law enforcement associations in Madera County, Varney said.
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Linn swept into the district attorney’s office with 58.5% of the vote compared to incumbent DA Michael Keitz with 41.2%.
Keitz, 59, of Madera, has served as district attorney for nearly six years. He’s worked in the office for 22 years, formerly as a deputy district attorney.
Linn, 66, of Oakhurst, has worked as a trial and general practice attorney for close to 40 years.
Linn said his commitment to address crime using “21st century solutions” helped him pull ahead. He said Keitz has spent too much time prosecuting the “disadvantaged” while neglecting many more serious crimes.
Linn called himself and Varney “two of the smartest people” in law enforcement statewide — noting that both graduated from prestigious “Big Ten” schools (Linn from Purdue, Varney from Michigan State).
“I think we can make a big difference in this county … I think we are going to approach crime in an appropriate manner,” Linn said. “You can’t just lock everybody up anymore.”
While there is no “catch-all solution,” other approaches to fighting crime must be utilized, Linn said, including things like rehabilitation programs and electronic monitoring.
Keitz did not return a call Tuesday night seeking comment.
Madera County supervisor
Brett Frazier won the race for District 1 supervisor. With all 23 precincts reporting, he won the election with 59.8% of the vote compared to Mona Diaz’s 39.7%.
In a district that spans from the Fresno County line to the foothills of O’Neals, water, development and public safety concerns were central to the candidates, both from Madera Ranchos.
Frazier, 34, is a former Madera mayor and city council member who owns and operates four Papa Murphy’s pizza restaurants with his family. Diaz, 66, is a businesswoman and longtime school board member who helped found Ranchos-centered Golden Valley Unified School District.
Frazier will replace Manuel Nevarez, who is not running for re-election. Nevarez was appointed to the seat last year by Gov. Jerry Brown after Supervisor Frank Bigelow won election to the state Assembly.
Frazier credited the hard work and “grassroots” approach of his volunteers for his win. “Thanks to the voters of District 1 for placing their trust in me and I will continue to remain accessible and remain a humble and true servant for them.”
Mayor/council races in Fresno County
Three cities in Fresno County had competitive races for mayor: Kerman, Orange Cove and Parlier.
• In Kerman, incumbent Gary Yep did not run for re-election, leaving the door open for pastor Stephen Hill to become mayor with 53.4% of the vote. The No. 2 finisher, businessman Kanwaldeep “Raj” Dhaliwal, won 46.2%.
Yep, who placed third in the primary election for Fresno County District 1 supervisor, will be back on the Kerman City Council after placing second to Rhonda Armstrong in a four-person race for two seats.
• In Orange Cove, Victor Lopez swept back into the mayor’s office with 46.4% of the vote.
Incumbent Gabriel Jimenez, the city’s former public works supervisor who ended Lopez’s nearly three-decade reign in 2010, was a distant third Tuesday with 12.9% of the vote.
Lopez started his climb back in 2012 when he won a seat on the council as vice mayor.
Realtor and former City Council member Glenda Hill was second in the mayor’s race with 40.6% of the vote.
• In Parlier, challenger Alma Beltran, a correctional officer, ousted Mayor Armando Lopez. Beltran took 40.6% of the vote in a four-person race. Lopez was in second with 32%.
• Two other mayor posts were up for election this year but the incumbents — Sanger Mayor Joshua Mitchell and Huron Mayor Sylvia Valenzuela Chavez — went unchallenged and will serve another term.
• A highly contested city council race in Kingsburg attracted six candidates for three seats. Staci Person Smith (21.2%), Bruce Blayney (19.7%) and Michelle Roman (16.9%) were leading, with Sherman Dix and Stanley Ruiz both within 57 votes of Roman.