Two of five seats on the Kings County Board of Supervisors are up for election in June, and both incumbents are seeking re-election.
Each faces only one challenger, meaning the June 7 election for the nonpartisan seat will decide who wins – there will be no run-off in November.
The four-year terms begin in January.
The District 5 seat covers east Hanford and environs; District 2 covers Corcoran, Avenal, Home Garden and Kettleman City.
Richard Fagundes, 74, a retired farm manager, is seeking a third term.
He is being challenged by Greg Strickland, 64, a former Kings County district attorney who was twice elected DA but was unseated two years ago by Keith Fagundes, the supervisor’s son.
Strickland is also a retired colonel in the Air Force Reserve and former Fresno County prosecutor.
We’re working on the (water) issue as much as possible.
Richard Fagundes, District 5 incumbent
Fagundes said constituents cite two major issues: high-speed rail and water.
He said he opposes the high-speed rail project: “The devastation it’s doing to the San Joaquin Valley is unbelievable.”
Despite setbacks in the lawsuit by the Board of Supervisors and others against the California High Speed Rail Authority, it forced the authority to listen to local concerns, he said.
“I just want them to follow the rules,” he said of the authority. “They put loopholes in all the time,” such as not to do environmental reports.
Strickland said he opposes high-speed rail as a waste of money.
“Money needs to be redirected to water and infrastructure construction: roads, bridges and levee upgrades,” he said.
Strickland said if elected, he’ll work for free and donate his salary to charities and service groups.
“They’re getting paid $5,500 a month for working one day a week,” he said of the supervisors. “If the police need a dog, I’ll fund that.”
Supervisors are paid about $69,000 a year, including salary and benefits.
Fagundes scoffed at the pledge.
“A job means you work for money,” Fagundes said. “What he does with his money – that’s up to him.”
They’re getting paid $5,500 a month for working one day a week.
Greg Strickland, District 5 candidate
Fagundes said he kept track of his hours for one week.
“I put in 32 hours that week, not counting phone calls and meetings,” he said.
Fagundes said he buys his own gas, meals and out-of-town lodging when on county business, and gives back to the county 2 percent of his paycheck from a pay raise.
Both Fagundes and Strickland said the county has a role to play in securing long-term water supplies, but Strickland faults the county for not doing enough about water in the drought.
“We have a real crisis,” Strickland said.
He favors a dam at Rodgers Crossing on the Kings River, increasing the capacity of Pine Flat reservoir and more groundwater recharge programs.
Fagundes said the county supports a dam at Temperance Flat dam on the San Joaquin River.
“We’re working on the issue as much as possible,” he said. “I don’t like to make promises.”
Fagundes said he supports Measure K, the proposed quarter-cent countywide sales tax for police and fire. Strickland said he favors Measure K “as a temporary fix” until the county budget is adjusted to spend more on public safety.
Richard Valle, 45, of Corcoran is seeking election to a third term.
Challenging him is Debra Kwast, 62, of Corcoran, who owns the local Radio Shack and a bill-paying service. Her husband, Terry Kwast, owns a farm equipment repair business and served 16 years on the Corcoran City Council.
It’s not what we attempted; it’s what we accomplished.
Richard Valle, District 2 incumbent
Valle said he has repeatedly traveled to Sacramento to complain about short water allocations and to fight the high-speed rail project.
He said he’s helped each of the four communities in the district.
“It’s not what we attempted; it’s what we accomplished,” Valle said.
He said he brought a key U.S. Bureau of Reclamation official to Avenal to talk about water shortages; got the state to put a four-way stop at Highway 43 and Whitley Avenue where a child died in a collision; persuaded the county to put sidewalks, curbs and gutters on a street in Home Garden; and is working to get the planned water-treatment plant built in Kettleman City.
When Valle points to accomplishments, “he claims credit for things done by other people,” Kwast said.
“Overall, I just feel I can bring more to the table,” she said. “I bring business experience. That’s something we don’t have enough of.”
Kwast said she’s running because voters tell her “they have been ignored” by Valle.
“We have career politicians,” Kwast said. “Their answer to everything is tax people more. You can’t get blood out of a turnip. Government needs to be more efficient.”
While Valle supports Measure K, Kwast said people are taxed enough so she won’t support it, but she isn’t publicly opposing it.
“I’m not into politics, I’m just trying to help people,” she said. “It’s time for a change.”
Education: A.S., San Joaquin Valley College
Family: Single, two children
Endorsements: Sheriff David Robinson, Kings County NAACP, Kings County Home Care Workers
Education: Clovis High graduate
Family: Married, three children, four grandchildren
Endorsements: Sen. Andy Vidak, Young Republicans of Kings County, Corcoran Mayor Jerry Robertson, Republican Women of Kings County
Education: Hanford High School graduate
Family: Married, seven children, 13 grandchildren, 4 great-grandchildren
Endorsements: Sheriff David Robinson, Hanford Mayor Justin Mendes, California Correctional Peace Officers Association, California Republican Assembly, Kings County Young Republicans, Congressman David Valadao
Education: B.S., University of Southern California; J.D., Whittier School of Law
Family: Married, two children
Endorsements: No endorsements