Voters have given county supervisors in Madera and Tulare counties the boot, while voters in Fresno County filled some open seats with old, familiar faces.
In Fresno County, Clovis City Councilman Nathan Magsig and Fresno City Councilman Sal Quintero handily won seats on the county Board of Supervisors, each of them defeating two other candidates.
In Madera County, however, Supervisor Rick Farinelli lost to Madera Mayor Robert Poythress, while in Tulare County Visalia City Councilwoman Amy Shuklian ousted Supervisor Phil Cox.
State Center Community College District scored a big victory Tuesday when voters approved Measure C, the $485 million bond measure to finance an array of new facilities and improvements across the sprawling district. The measure needed 55 percent of the vote to pass. and appeared to be headed toward approval in early returns. It got 64 percent.
Central San Joaquin Valley voters had plenty of reasons to head to the polls Tuesday. A new mayor in Fresno. New county supervisors in Fresno and Tulare, and a collection of bond and tax measures on local ballots.
Yet turnout was a worry for elections officials – and likely for some political hopefuls, as well. As of late last week, less than 15 percent of voters had returned their mail ballots in Fresno County. Fresno County elections chief Brandi Orth said she didn’t expect the county’s turnout would reach 60 percent, but the final tally won’t be known until she tallies all the ballots, which could take a couple of weeks.
In Madera County, elections chief Becky Martinez said turnout might reach 48 percent. Three polling places ran low of ballots – and one may have briefly run out – but elections staff quickly replenished supplies. “We didn’t want anybody to run out,” she said.
In Tulare County, there was confusion as some voters discovered they had been converted to mail-in only precincts, said Hiley Wallis, chief deputy treasurer-tax collector, a department that includes the elections division. Those voters were given a new provisional ballot, but that could delay the count.
“There’s going to be a lot of provisional ballots,” Wallis said. If many provisional ballots are turned in, final results of close elections can take days to decide.
Among Valley state Assembly races, the hottest contest leading up to Election Day appeared to be the 26th District, where incumbent Republican Devon Mathis seemed to be facing a strong challenge from Woodlake Mayor and fellow Republican Rudy Mendoza, who spent heavily on advertising in the Republican-leaning district. Despite that, Mathis held a solid lead over Mendoza, who was trailing Democrat Ruben Macareno, 27 percent to 29 percent, for second place and a chance to move on to the November ballot.
For voters in the 31st state Assembly District, Tuesday surely seemed like a summer rerun. Democrat Joaquin Arambula won a special election in early April to fill the seat formerly held by Henry T. Perea. On Tuesday, Arambula was back on the ballot, seeking to win a full two-year term against the same special election challengers, Republican Clint Olivier, a Fresno City Council member, and Ted Miller, a Caruthers engineer. Arambula led 56 percent to 38 percent for Olivier, who will be his opponent in the November general election.
Elsewhere, Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, the O’Neals Republican, held a wide lead in early returns over three challengers for the 5th District, which covers a sweep of the Sierra foothills from Madera to Alpine counties. Democrat Robert Carabas was trailing Bigelow with 23 percent to Bigelow’s 61 percent, but was well ahead of two other candidates and headed for the November showdown. In the 23rd District, Tuesday was a dress rehearsal for Republican incumbent Jim Patterson and Gwen Morris, his Republican challenger in the district that covers Fresno County and a small portion of Tulare County. Both move on to the November ballot. In early returns, Patterson had a nearly 4-1 lead.
In Valley congressional races, Rep. Jim Costa appeared to be headed toward a rerun of his 2014 general election race against Republican Johnny Tacherra in the 16th Congressional District. In early returns, Costa had 54 percent of the vote to Tacherra’s 34 percent, with Madera County Supervisor David Rogers trailing far behind with 12 percent.
And in the 21st District, voters were deciding which of two Democrats – Daniel Parra or Emilio Jesus Huerta – would face Hanford Republican Rep. David Valadao. With about 14 percent of the precincts still to be counted, Parra was leading Huerta 22 percent to 20 percent.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, who has had little to sweat about in prior re-election campaigns, was facing challenges from Republican Teresita “Tess” Andres and Democrat Louie J. Campos. Campos had a wide lead over Andres and will face off against Nunes in the fall.
And Republican Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader from Bakersfield, was facing challenges from two Republicans and a Democrat, but had little trouble holding a solid lead. Democrat Wendy Reed trailed McCarthy 26 percent to 57 percent, but was well ahead of two other challengers.
Among local races, three people were seeking to fill Supervisor Henry Perea’s 3rd District seat on the Fresno County Board of Supervisors. Fresno City Councilman Sal Quintero won the seat outright with 56 percent of the vote over former councilman Dan Ronquillo and businessman Antonio “Tony” Gastelum.
Likewise in the 5th District, Clovis City Councilman Nathan Magsig avoided a runoff by taking 63 percent of the vote over Alex Ott and Lauren Stephens. He will move up to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors seat now held by Debbie Poochigian, who decided not to seek re-election.
Perea, who spent three terms on the county Board of Supervisors after a stint on the Fresno City Council, is trying to accomplish something his son, Henry T. Perea, could not – win election as Fresno’s mayor. Henry T. Perea lost in 2008 to Ashley Swearengin, who is termed out after eight years.
The elder Perea led a field of five candidates with 44 percent of the vote, but did not have enough votes to avoid a runoff. In November he will face Fresno City Councilman Lee Brand, who had 32 percent. Nonprofit leader H Spees, former Fresno County Supervisor Doug Vagim and businessman Richard Renteria were all well behind the leaders.
For Brand, the election offered a chance to jump from his District 6 seat, where he is termed out, to the mayor’s job, which he has coveted for years.
Four people are trying to succeed him. With 90 percent of the precincts counted Tuesday night, former Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld had 50.4 percent of the vote, a lead that – if it holds as any outstanding ballots are tabulated – would allow him to avoid a runoff. Trailing behind him is Jeremy Pearce, with 25 percent of the vote, Holly Carter with 20 percent and Carter Pope II with 5 percent.
South Valley supervisors
In Tulare County, eight people were running to replace the retiring Allen Ishida as District 1 county supervisor in a race that will see the top two vote-getters move on to a November runoff. Dennis Smith and Kuyler Crocker appeared to have a lock to move on to November. .
In the 3rd District, Visalia City Councilwoman Amy Shuklian ousted Supervisor Phil Cox, claiming 55 percent of the vote to Cox’s 45 percent.
Two incumbent Kings County supervisors were also facing challengers.
District 2 Supervisor Richard Valle was challenged by businesswoman Debra Kwast and District 5 Supervisor Richard Fagundes was facing a challenge from retired prosecutor Greg Strickland. Both incumbents appeared to have solid leads in early returns, although Kings County’s elections website was not updating with later results.
Staff writers Andrea Castillo and Lewis Griswold contributed to this report.