Merced County voters in District 3 spoke up Tuesday and their message was loud and clear – they want to see a change on the Board of Supervisors.
After one term in office, incumbent Supervisor Linn Davis was beaten by two of his three opponents – Merced City Councilman and former Police Chief Tony Dossetti and Atwater businessman Daron McDaniel.
Dossetti and McDaniel will face off in November for the supervisor’s seat.
With all 24 precincts reporting, Dossetti finished first with 38.76 percent and McDaniel was second with 34.55 percent. Davis placed third, earning 19.38 percent. William Snyder III trailed in fourth place with 6.95 percent.
Davis expressed his disappointment in the election results on Wednesday.
“I don’t like to get beat, but that’s the voice of the people,” he said. “I really don’t know what the downfall was. If you live up to your campaign promises and help move Merced County forward ... I guess my question is, what do the people really want? What did I miss?
“I was a little taken back by the actual voter percentages,” he added, “but this too will pass.”
Davis, 70, will remain in office until Dec. 31. The winner of the November general election will begin a four-year term on Jan. 1.
Merced Mayor Stan Thurston showed his support for McDaniel at his election night campaign party. Despite serving on the City Council with Dossetti, the mayor said he supports McDaniel because of the fresh ideas he brings to the county.
“He is not a lifelong employee of government,” Thurston said. “He’s willing to tackle issues that the grand old county doesn’t want to tackle, like spiking pensions and shifting jobs back and forth. He’s willing to get in and make some noise and try to get some changes.”
Thurston said he’s not surprised to see Davis defeated.
“I’m surprised he didn’t finish last,” Thurston said, adding that Davis didn’t provide much support for developing the former Castle Air Force base, a major asset of District 3. “One of the reasons why I did not support the incumbent is because he never – not once – came out to Castle and asked the tenants here what he could do to help us or support them.”
In contrast to Thurston, Merced Councilman Noah Lor showed support for Dossetti on Tuesday, saying his experience as a councilman makes him best suited to be a county supervisor.
“I can understand that the City Council and supervisors represent a different population, but in terms of budgeting, it’s the same thing,” said Lor. He said people in the Franklin-Beachwood area of District 3 have asked for more law enforcement services.
“I can certainly understand their need for more law enforcement,” Lor said. “I think with Tony’s experience and background, he can certainly make that a priority for the community in the Beachwood area.”
While Dossetti and McDaniel have five months of campaigning and another election to look forward to, Davis said he’ll use his remaining time in office to finish projects he’s started.
“We need to look at what the residents of Franklin-Beachwood need in their area and Castle is always the No. 1 interest on my list,” Davis said.
Mark Hendrickson, Merced County director of community and economic development, said Davis as well as other board members did support development efforts at Castle. The former Air Force base has seen a 9 percent increase in total number of jobs in a year, he said.
“He was absolutely very engaged since Day One of assuming office,” Hendrickson said. “Supervisor Davis was a tremendous champion for Castle, as is our entire board.”
Several members of the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday reflected on Davis’ four years in office and how a new supervisor might change the board’s dynamics.
“It’s hard to get a lot accomplished in four years,” said board Chairman and District 5 Supervisor Jerry O’Banion. “But I think he served the county well as a supervisor.”
District 2 Supervisor Hub Walsh said having a new supervisor next year could bring new ideas and approaches to county business. “Different personalities always change the process,” Walsh said, “but we don’t know what that might be.”
District 4 Supervisor Deidre Kelsey said there’s always a learning curve for new supervisors. “We have a lot of intergovernmental relationships that would not necessarily be known to someone outside the government and those are responsibilities the new person would have to learn.”
None of the three supervisors endorsed McDaniel or Dossetti. District 1 Supervisor John Pedrozo didn’t return calls for comment.
Davis’ annual salary is $96,904, according to county spokesman Mike North. Davis said he will not accept a retirement from the county.
“I have an Air Force retirement, I have Social Security and I’ve made some good investments over the years, so I’ve elected to turn that down,” he said.