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The Madera Tribune

Supervisor race already getting juicy

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webmaster | 07/12/13

There’s nothing like an early start. Already, two high-profile candidates have made it clear they will go after the District 1 position on the Board of Supervisors in next year’s election.

That is the seat once filled by Frank Bigelow, who resigned in December 2012 after he was elected to the Assembly, where he serves today.

The position was filled this year by Gov. Jerry Brown, who appointed Manuel Nevarez, who holds the seat now. As is usually the case where the incumbent is an appointee, that person is about as politically vulnerable as he or she ever will be. Also, Nevarez is a political newcomer, so it will take him longer to become known in his district. First to file a form with the Madera County elections office to run against Nevarez was longtime Madera businesswoman Rochelle Noblett.

She has formed a campaign committee, with Madera Unified School District Board of Trustees member Robert Garibay as treasurer.

She operates her family’s business, Pete’s Sports Shop, and has served for years on the State Center Community College Foundation Board of Directors. In that capacity she has helped raise money for scholarships, among other things. She headed the Madera Downtown Association for a decade. She lists many awards on her resume.

While her business interests are largely in Madera, she and her husband live in District 1 east of the city.

The most recent candidate to file is Ray Krause.

Krause and his wife Tammy own Westbrook Wine Farm in O’Neals, and he has owned three other wineries in other towns.

He is a member of the Madera County Planning Commission, having been appointed by Bigelow. (More about that later.)

He’s a past president of Madera Vintners Association and a past president of the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau. He also spent several years in the investment industry. Nevarez was appointed primarily because of his support of the California High-Speed Rail project, and he wasn’t in office long before he cast a deciding vote to end a county lawsuit against the rail plan. That cleared the way for the rail authority to begin its planned construction in the middle of Madera County near Avenue 17 and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks. To the surprise of some who were critical of his appointment, Nevarez has proven to be a quick study on county issues and a hard worker. He often can be counted on to take a liberal position — a rarity on a board dominated for years by the unfailing exercise of conservative caution. However, he usually backs his opinions with information. And he is a strong constituent representative. He dropped the ball last week, though, when he decided to try to get rid of Krause from the Planning Commission and replace him with Ranchos hardware-store owner Tom Hurst. Nevarez only made the decision to drop Krause when Krause informed Nevarez that he planned to run for the District 1 seat. That’s school-yard politics, pure and simple; it smacks of panic on the part of Nevarez, and it demeans him. The resolution to fire Krause and replace him with Hurst was on the Board of Supervisors’ consent calendar for Tuesday’s meeting, but the supervisors wisely pulled it. At least three of them would have had to vote to replace Krause, who by all accounts has done nothing to deserve being fired except to be open about his political intentions.


When the matter comes up again next week, the supervisors should stay out of Nevarez’s political chicaneries, lest they set a poor precedent.


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