Calaveras County Supervisor Gary Tofanelli is seeking a second term representing San Andreas, Valley Springs and points west on Highway 12, facing challenger Cliff Edson of San Andreas.
Tofanelli came closest in three primary races countywide to securing an outright majority and avoiding a runoff with Edson. He stood 80 votes short of that threshold at the end of counting on the night of the June 5 primary.
However, Edson actually gained ground as remaining votes were tallied in coming days and anti-incumbent third candidate Joe Kelly said he relished having played a spoiler role.
That leaves something of an uphill battle for restaurateur Edson, who owns and operates Country Cliff’s restaurant on St. Charles Street in San Andreas. Edson has served on the parks and recreation commission for San Andreas and at the county level.
In the primary, a geographic divide became evident, with San Andreas precinct voters favoring Edson while the more populous Valley Springs precincts gave the edge to Tofanelli.
Edson is critical of a county plan to spend $400,000 is state-appropriated Mental Health Services Act funds toward an $8 million remodel of the foreclosing Hillside Apartments in San Andreas, a plan which Tofanelli favored.
It calls on Visionary Home Builders of Stockton to manage an extensive renovation of the complex and to make housing available to low-income households as well as a handful of the county’s Behavioral Health Department clients.
Edson and other San Andreas business owners were critical of adding more low-income housing in already economically disadvantaged San Andreas. Tofanelli said the investment of mostly private enterprise dollars in the community will be a net positive and makes sense given the proximity of county and state government services available in the county seat.
The challenger has also campaigned on increasing funding to Sheriff’s Office resources and notes his own restaurant has fallen victim to burglaries on multiple occasions in recent years. Edson said increasing crime can be tied to the economy.
“It’s declining because people need to leave the county to find work,” he said during a Sept. 19 Calaveras County Chamber of Commerce candidate forum in Valley Springs. “We need to find a way to create jobs.”
As county budgets have tightened, Tofanelli has been a consistent vote for adding deputies back to Sheriff Gary Kuntz’s diminished force as funds have become available.
Tofanelli has campaigned on the benefits of his construction experience and owns and operates Port City Steel in Stockton. He was selected by the board, where he has served as chairman this year, to represent it in discussions of contract change orders on design and construction of the $59 million jail complex scheduled to open next year.
In this role, Tofanelli told the audience at the candidate forum that he had been able to save taxpayers “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
“I know what the lingo is,” he said. “I’ve played that game.”
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