Merced County candidates scramble to enter race before filing deadline

08/08/2014 8:37 PM

08/10/2014 7:58 AM

The deadline to pull filing paperwork to run for office in November’s general election was Friday, and voters will see a host of new candidates on the ballot.

Two members of the Atwater City Council will not seek re-election: Mayor Pro Tem Craig Mooneyham and Councilman Jeff Rivero. Mayor Joan Faul, who is up for re-election, confirmed she will seek another term in office.

Faul will be challenged by longtime Atwater resident Jim Price, who is the vice president of operations at Gemini Flight Support. Retired business owner Wayne Wallace pulled election filing papers to run against the mayor earlier this month, but said he changed his mind.

Vying for the seats of Mooneyham and Rivero are pastor Bill Barkman, retired fire Capt. James Vineyard and Fernando Echevarria. Resident Steve Jensen pulled papers but decided not to run for office.

Rivero said Thursday the decision was a “heavy” one to make, but he wants to spend more time with his family.

“My parents taught me that family comes first,” Rivero said. “My two children have expressed a desire to participate in more after-school activities, and I want to support them in whatever activities they do.”

Rivero said he believes he’s done a good job of being a “watchdog” for Atwater residents during his five years on the council. “I’ve tried to be the voice of reason and be proactive instead of reactive,” he said.

Mooneyham also cited family as the reason he’s not seeking another term, especially after the death of his father in April.

“My focus is my mother and my three boys right now,” Mooneyham said in a previous interview. “After my father passed away, my focus on local politics changed and it’s not a big part of my life.”

In Livingston, two seats on the City Council are up for election: the mayor and one council seat.

Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza confirmed he will seek re-election, but he has no challengers.

Mayor Pro Tem Gurpal Samra will seek another term in office and faces two challengers: Planning Commissioner Mario Mendoza, whose brother is Councilman David Mendoza, and Livingston resident Adanan Bath pulled papers to file.

Los Banos Mayor Mike Villalta, who’s running for re-election, will face off with Michael Amabile, who was mayor of Los Banos from 1994 until 2006. Los Banos Councilmen Scott Silveira and Tom Faria are seeking another term, but will be challenged by Ray Martinez and Refugio Morales Llamas.

Dos Palos Councilwoman Alice Thompson filed for re-election, but had no challengers. Councilman John Gamboni will not seek re-election, so his seat will go to the only candidate running for that spot, longtime school trustee Thomas Pigg.

In Gustine, Councilman Patrick Nagy will face opponents Bartolo Garcia and Ellen Brazil Hasness. Gustine Mayor Dennis Brazil is uncontested in his bid for re-election.

Voters will select the next Merced County sheriff from the top two candidates in 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 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 against 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.


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