It's too soon to know if it's going to be a warmer-than-normal summer in the Valley, but voters will at least be facing a hot ballot in some election races on the June 5 primary ballot.
The largest field of candidates in any single race in Fresno County is for the District 3 seat on the Fresno City Council, where eight-year incumbent Oliver Baines is barred by term limits from running again to represent southwest Fresno. Six people filed their papers by Friday's deadline to vie to replace Baines. They include two candidates who previously ran against Baines: educator Daren Miller and businessman Tate Hill, and a former Fresno City Council member, businessman Craig Scharton. Also in the race are Kimberly Tapscott-Munson, a retired school librarian; business owner Sean Sanchez, and Miguel Arias, a Fresno Unified School District communications spokesman and a member of the State Center Community College District board of trustees.
In east-central Fresno, where two-term incumbent Clint Olivier faces a term limit, a field of three candidates has emerged for District 7: businessman and attorney Brian Whelan, Fresno County Board of Education trustee Nelson Esparza, and Genoveva Islas, a program director for Cultiva La Salud, a local health advocacy organization. Whelan ran for Congress against Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, in 2012 in what was then the newly formed 16th Congressional District.
And in southeast Fresno's District 5, Luis Chavez faces a challenge to keep the seat to which he was elected in a special election In November 2016. The other candidates are Paul "Paully" Condon, a small business owner; Jose Barraza, a community advocate and former Fresno County economic development director; and Paula Yang, a Hmong community activist and anchor for a Hmong television channel. Barraza ran for council previously in 2010 and again in the 2016 special election., while Condon ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2012.
Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria, who is running for a second term representing District 1 including the Tower District and west-central Fresno, is unopposed, according to information from the Fresno City Clerk and the Fresno County election division.
In Fresno County government, many of the elected officers are running unopposed for re-election, including Sheriff Margaret Mims, District Attorney Lisa Sondergaard Smittcamp, Assessor-Recorder Paul Dictos, County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino and District 4 Supervisor Buddy Mendes.
Also unopposed are Superior Court judges Donald Black, Gary Hoff, Debra Kazanjian, David Kalemkarian, Michael Idiart, Mary Dolas, Jonathan Skiles and Rosemary McGuire. Two other judges, Edward Sarkisian and Dennis Peterson, are retiring, and those posts have attracted would-be replacements.
Attorney Roger D. Wilson and William "Billy" Terrance, a prosecutor with the Fresno County District Attorney's office, filed to replace Sarkisian. For Peterson's vacant post, senior deputy DA Robert Mangano and deputy County Counsel Brent Woodward are running.
Several other county incumbents are facing challenges for their jobs. Fresno County District 1 Supervisor Brian Pacheco, who represents much of western Fresno County, is being challenged by businessman Jose Ornelas. Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector Oscar Garia, an appointed incumbent, is facing certified public accountant David Keyes and accounting industructor Alan Cade Jr. in the primary election. And S. Adrian Rivera, a public tax adviser, is running against Fresno County Clerk Brandi Orth.
In both the city and county races, a candidate can win outright if he or she gets more than half of all votes cast. If no candidate wins a majority, the top two candidates will face off in a runoff on the November general election ballot.
There will be plenty of action for state and federal legislative offices, although the Secretary of State's office won't post the certified candidate lists for those races until later this month, after sifting through materials filed with the various county election offices and verifying the candidate filings.
In the state Assembly, incumbent Republicans Jim Patterson of Fresno, Frank Bigelow of O'Neals, Devon Mathis of Tulare and Rudy Salas of Bakersfield are all likely to face challengers, including some from their own parties. Dr. Joaquin Arambula, a Fresno Democrat representing the 31st Assembly District, is probably also going to face a challenge from the Republican party.
Term limits are creating opportunities for would-be state senators. In Senate District 8, which covers much of the Sierra Nevada and eastern California from Sacramento through Tulare County, Republican Tom Berryhill cannot run again. Fresno County Supervisor Andreas Borgeas, a Republican from Fresno, and Paulina Miranda, a Fresno Democrat, both filed papers by Friday's deadline to run, according to the Fresno County elections office.
In the 12th Senate District, which includes all or parts of Fresno, Madera, Merced, Monterey, San Benito and Stanuslaus counties, Sen. Anthony Canella is term-limited. Among the candidates with papers pending are a pair of Republicans, Burrel farmer Johnny Tacherra and Madera farmer Rob Poythress, a former Madera mayor who serves on the Madera County Board of Supervisors; and Fowler City Councilman Daniel Parra, a Democrat. Tacherra ran unsuccessfully for Congress three times against Democratic incumbent Jim Costa of Fresno, while Parra ran and lost in a primary bid for Congress in 2016 and in 2014 ran for the Fresno County Board of Supervisors but lost to Mendes.
In the 14th Senate District, two Democrats filed papers to run against incumbent Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford. They are Ruben Macareno, a community advocate and publisher from Farmersville, and Abigail Solis, a school board member from Earlimart. Macareno ran twice unsuccessfully for the state Assembly, in 2014 and in 2016, in 2010 as a write-in candidate for Congress, in 2008 for the College of the Sequoias board of trustees, and for the Tulare County Board of Supervisors in 2004 (when he withdrew from the race but his name still appeared on the ballot).
Congress will also feature some interesting races in the Valley, including the contest for the 22nd District seat held by Devin Nunes, R-Tulare. The high-profile chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has been a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, attracting criticism and protests in some parts of his district over his handling of an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race.
Andrew Janz, a Fresno County prosecutor, has made waves as one of several Democratic challengers to Nunes. Also filing papers as Democrats are Bobby Bliatout of Fresno and Ricardo "Rico" Franco of Fresno, as well as Libertarian candidate Bill Merryman of Fresno.
Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, is being challenged by Fresno Democrat T.J. Cox in the 21st Congressional District. And in the 16th District, Republican Elizabeth Heng of Fresno has filed papers to run against incumbent Costa.