Local Election

Unopposed, Gray cruises to third term in state Assembly

Facing no formal challenge, state Assemblyman Adam Gray was headed to a third-term victory, according to preliminary results from Tuesday’s race.

The Merced Democrat was unopposed in his re-election bid for the 21st Assembly District following Republican Greg Opinski’s decision to withdraw from the race in May. According to early ballot results posted soon after polls closed, Gray had more than 72 percent of the vote in the Merced County portion of his district and about 66 percent in Stanislaus County.

“I feel totally honored,” Gray told the Sun-Star on Tuesday night. “We had a great campaign this year but, more importantly, we had a great year in Sacramento.”

Gray, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2012, campaigned on promises to protect the interests of the Valley’s residents in Sacramento, focusing on water, jobs, preserving agriculture and improving infrastructure.

Among his top accomplishments, the 39-year-old Merced native pointed to his efforts to secure $4.5 million to fund a violence-prevention program in Merced County, legislation to crack down on workers’ compensation fraud, and ending a tax penalty on Stanislaus County that freed up money for essential county services. He also helped successfully fight off a plan that would have eliminated Merced from the first stage of the state’s high-speed-rail project.

Gray said the support from voters was “a reflection of the work I’ve been able to do. But the work just can’t stop.”

Gray said he will continue to make sure Valley voices are heard on water issues and would push to improve infrastructure and education in the region, bring more health care providers to the area and work to strengthen the region’s economy.

“We need to create an environment that will produce new industries and new job opportunities,” he said.

Gray was left unopposed after Opinski, a prominent contractor and member of the Merced Union High School District board, abruptly pulled out of the race, citing a need to focus on “business and personal circumstances.”

Opinski’s withdrawal on May 16 came too late to pull his name from election ballots.

In August, Opinski was arrested and charged with paying off at least one trustee of the Los Banos Unified School District board to win a contract for a school expansion project. Opinski, who has denied any wrongdoing, is to be arraigned on corruption charges on Nov. 21, along with Los Banos trustee Tommy Jones.

The 21st Assembly District is predominantly Democratic and includes Merced County and the southwest section of Stanislaus County, including parts of Modesto.

Michelle Morgante: 209-385-2456