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The Madera Tribune

Lively races for sheriff, supervisor

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webmaster | 03/14/14

Madera County voters once again are lucky to have several slates of qualified candidates from which to choose in the June primary.

The race for sheriff has six candidates and the contest for District 1 supervisor has five (it would have had six, but former supervisor John Silva decided not to run).

The sheriff’s race became lively when incumbent Sheriff John Anderson decided to retire. Candidates include Michael Kime of Madera, former Madera chief of police and presently a law-enforcement consultant; Madera County Undersheriff Michael Salvador (who also is a member of the Madera Unified School District Board of Trustees), Chowchilla Police Chief Jay Varney, who also is a former city administrator of that city; Sgt. Gregory Noll of the Fresno Police Department, who lives in Oakhurst; Dennis Fairbanks of Coarsegold, a retired California Highway Patrol supervisor; and Frank Gauthier of Madera County, a former Madera County sheriff’s deputy, a corporate security manager and an Air Force veteran.

Anderson’s role in recent years has largely been trying to figure out how to patrol the county with less money. The new sheriff will have the same problem, for while the state’s economy in some areas seems to be improving, the economy of the Valley, Madera County included, has improved very little.

Some Central Valley counties, facing similar woes, have seen voluntary citizen watch groups form, primarily to battle agricultural thievery. Police say the groups’ vigilance has helped law enforcement identify and arrest perpetrators and recover stolen property. Anderson has used volunteers effectively, and maybe the new sheriff can expand such volunteerism into new areas.

The District 1 supervisorial race started out strong not long after the appointment of Manuel Neva-rez to fill the seat of Frank Bigelow, who resigned in 2013 after he was elected to the Assembly in 2012. Nevarez surprised a lot of people when he decided not to seek reelection, even though he proved to be an effective supervisor and probably would have been harder to beat than some thought might be the case.

Seeking that position are Rochelle Noblett of Madera, a longtime sporting goods retailer; former Madera city councilman Brett Frazier, a restaurateur who now lives in the Ranchos; Ray Krause of O’Neals, a winemaker and former member of the county planning commission; Gary W. Johns of Madera Ranchos, a business owner; and Mona Diaz, president of the Golden Valley School District Board of Trustees.

District 2 Supervisor David Rogers already has won reelection, for all practical purposes. When the filing period ended Wednesday, he was unopposed.

The supervisors right now are dealing with how to help the county get through the drought, as well as how to maintain services during a time when tax revenues are increasing only slowly. Whoever wins the District 1 election will have to be a quick study.

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More comment on the election filings to come Saturday.


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