Because of the new election law, and the new Assembly District 5 boundary, we find ourselves in the position of having to choose between two Republicans in a district that starts at Lake Tahoe in the north and comes all the way down past Madera, to the San Joaquin River in the south.
The two Republicans are Madera County Supervisor Frank Bigelow and building supplies dealer Rico Oller of San Andreas.
Oller and Bigelow were the two highest vote-getters in the primary. That means they will test the new voting system in which the two “winners,” regardless of party, face off in the general election.
Both these men are qualified to serve in the Assembly, but if Oller wins, our part of the world will have hardly any representation in the Assembly. That’s because San Andreas is an exurb of Sacramento and it’s where Oller’s political base is.
He spent two terms in the Assembly (1996-2000) and one term in the Senate (2000-2004) representing that area. Then he made two unsuccessful runs for Congress from two different districts in the same area. That doesn’t make him a bad guy, but you know that’s where his heart and his support is.
Bigelow, on the other hand, is a Madera County native who is serving his fourth term as a county supervisor. He knows many if not most of the supervisors of all the counties in the new 5th District because of his years of serving on the National Association of Counties Board of Directors and as president of the California State Association of Counties.
Bigelow is an expert on water, on flood control, on transportation, on natural resources, on workforce development, on trade and on the problems of local governments.
Both are businessmen.
Bigelow is vice president of Ponderosa Telephone Co., a family-owned communications firm, and also operates a cattle and sheep ranch. He is a longtime rural firefighter.
Oller operates a family-owned building supply company.
Both men are conservatives. But being conservative isn’t enough. Oller spent eight years in Sacramento, and while he may have done no harm, he really didn’t accomplish that much, either. Bigelow has accomplished much on the local government level, not only in Madera County, but in his work with supervisors of other counties.
First and foremost, though, Frank Bigelow is our guy. He’s a man we know we can trust. He needs our votes, regardless of your party, to win this election. Otherwise, Madera County likely will be consigned to the legislative outskirts.