July 30, 2014

Array of races face Merced County voters in November

The November general election is less than 100 days away and Merced County voters will be faced with a variety of choices in both county and city races.

The November general election is less than 100 days away and Merced County voters will face a variety of choices in both county and city races.

Voters will select the next Merced County sheriff from the top two candidates from June’s primary election: sheriff’s Sgt. Vern Warnke and Pat Lunney, the Merced County district attorney’s chief investigator.

Merced County residents living in District 3, which includes Atwater, north Merced, Franklin-Beachwood and McSwain, will pick a supervisor to represent them on the Board of Supervisors. The two candidates are Tony Dossetti, a Merced city councilman and former police chief; and Atwater businessman and congressional aide Daron McDaniel.

In the 16th Congressional District race, Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, will face off with dairyman Johnny Tacherra. Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, will be challenged by write-in candidate and longtime Merced resident Jack Mobley. State Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, is being challenged by Shawn Bagley.

The local city races will boast some familiar candidates and several new challengers.

Three spots are up for grabs on the Atwater City Council: Mayor Joan Faul’s seat as well as the seats of Mayor Pro Tem Craig Mooneyham and Councilman Jeff Rivero.

Mooneyham told the Sun-Star Wednesday he will not seek another term in office for personal reasons.

“After my father passed away in April, my focus on local politics changed and it’s not a big part of my life,” Mooneyham said. “My focus is my mother and my three boys right now. I think the mayor has the city on the right track, and we have a couple good candidates running for City Council.”

Rivero would not say if he will seek re-election. Two Atwater residents – pastor Bill Barkman and retired fire Capt. James Vineyard – pulled papers to run for one of the council seats. Military veteran Steve Jensen also pulled papers to run, but told the Merced Sun-Star this week he will not seek office.

Faul, the longtime Atwater mayor, is seeking re-election and could face competition from two candidates: Jim Price, vice president of operations at Gemini Flight Support, and Wayne Wallace, a retired business owner. Both candidates pulled election filing papers earlier this month.

The Livingston City Council has two seats up for election: the mayor and one council seat.

Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza confirmed to the Sun-Star he will seek re-election, but had no challengers as of Wednesday.

Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra says he also plans to seek another term in office, but has not yet pulled filing papers. Samra could face two challengers: Planning Commissioner Mario Mendoza, whose brother is Councilman David Mendoza, and Livingston resident Adanan Bath pulled papers to file.

In Los Banos, Mayor Mike Villalta is running for re-election but has no challengers. Los Banos Councilmen Scott Silveira and Tom Faria are seeking another term.

Dos Palos Councilwoman Alice Thompson is running for re-election, according to filing documents. In Gustine, Councilman Patrick Nagy is seeking another term in office.

The deadline for candidates to pull filing paperwork is Aug. 8.

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