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Local candidates lining up for June primary

Filing period runs Feb. 15 to March 11


File photo / Union Democrat Alice Leonardo, of Sonora, votes in 2014.

Even though the beginning of the filing period for the June election is still a week away, some prospective candidates for local races are collecting required paperwork to make it on the ballot.

The filing period for running in the June 7 election begins Feb. 15 and ends March 11, with a potential extension to March 16 if an incumbent has not filed by the original deadline.

Three district seats on the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors and three seats on the Sonora City Council will be on the ballot. Federal and state races will hold primaries on that date.

It looks as though District 1 Supervisor Sherri Brennan will defend her seat in what appears to be the most hotly contested local race at this point. The district covers the City of Sonora, the county’s only incorporated city, as well as most of Shaws Flat, Apple Valley and areas south of Big Hill Road and Phoenix Lake.

Brennan, a Republican, was elected to her first four-year term in 2012 after defeating incumbent Liz Bass in the November runoff. She chairs the county Natural Resources Committee and received the Fifth Assembly District’s Woman of the Year award in 2015.

Chuck Kiel and Gerard “Jerry” Fuccillo have pulled papers to collect petition signatures ahead of the filing the period. Supervisor candidates must collect at least 1,593 signatures from registered voters in the districts they’re running in to avoid paying a $398.14 filing fee.

Kiel, a real estate broker in Sonora, describes himself as a progressive Democrat on his campaign’s Facebook page. In 2006, he ran for District 3, which covers most communities east of Sonora along the Highway 108 corridor.

Fuccillo, who is registered as no party preference, retired in 2015 as the City of Sonora’s chief engineer after 36 years. He promises in campaign materials to prioritize road improvement and road maintenance, public services and facilities if elected.

Although supervisor offices are nonpartisan, all five on the board are registered Republicans. A candidate for the board must win in the June election by a margin of 50 percent plus one to avoid a November runoff.

District 5 Supervisor Karl Rodefer and District 4 Supervisor John Gray are currently uncontested in their respective races, though elections officials said that could change by the filing deadline on March 11.

Robbie Bergstrom, the county’s election supervisor, said it’s not uncommon to see a rush of candidates filing paperwork to run within the last few days before the March deadline.

Bergstrom was hired by the board last year to take over elections duties from Debi Bautista, who also serves as county clerk and auditor-controller.

Supervisor candidates must collect between 20 to 40 signatures from registered voters in the given district to be eligible, while city council candidates must collect between 20 to 30 from registered voters within the city limits.

The candidates must also pay the filing fee by the deadline if they didn’t use the in-lieu process. Those who do use the process can use the collected signatures to count toward their nomination.

Bergstrom said the elections office encourages candidates to file their paperwork as early as possible because all signatures must be verified.

“We go through every single signature to make sure that they’re registered, live in the district and that their signatures match the one on their voter registration,” he said.

The three city council seats that will be up for election in June are held by Bill Canning, Connie Williams and Ron Stearn.

Stearn has stated he likely won’t run after 13 consecutive four-year terms, possibly the longest run for a city council member in California history. No other candidates have pulled paperwork to begin collecting in-lieu signatures.

There’s no runoff in the council race, so the top-three vote getters in June will win a seat. Winners are typically sworn in at the council’s first meeting in July.

City Clerk Marijane Cassinetto’s seat will also be on the line in the June election, though no candidates have pulled paperwork to begin collecting in-lieu signatures for that race either.

Democrat Dr. Bob Derlet, of Sonora, has announced he will challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Roseville, in California’s Fourth Congressional District, which covers a wide swath of the Sierra foothills from Truckee south to Sequoia National Forest.

According to Derlet’s campaign website, he spent his career as a professor at University of California, Davis, and chief of emergency medicine at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento before moving to Tuolumne County five years ago.

Derlet also worked for three years as a primary care physician at the Me-Wuk Indian Health Center in Tuolumne, according to his website.

McClintock is looking for his third consecutive win in the Republican-dominated district since it was redrawn in 2011 to include Tuolumne and Calaveras counties.

A career politician, McClintock has previously served in both houses of the State Legislature and unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2003. He lives just outside the Fourth Congressional District in Elk Grove, as members of U.S. Congress are not required to live in the district they represent.

McClintock won reelection in 2014 with 60 percent of the vote against a member of his own party, military veteran Art Moore. The race gained national attention as one of a few intraparty battles created by California’s primary system, in which the top-two vote getters regardless of party affiliation advance to the November election.

Moore has not filed a statement of candidacy for the June election, according to the Federal Election Commission’s website.

McClintock holds a wide lead over Derlet in campaign fundraising to date, with a warchest of $323,766 as of his latest FEC campaign-finance filing that covers up to Dec. 31, 2015. Derlet’s filings showed $6,440 cash on hand at the end of last year.

In the state’s Fifth Assembly District, incumbent Frank Bigelow, R-O’Neals, will be challenged by 27-year-old Democrat Kai Ellsworth, an Iraq War veteran currently attending college on the G.I. Bill.

Bigelow was unopposed in the June 2014 primary and defeated Patrick Hogan, a 21-year-old Libertarian part-time bookstore employee and college student, in the November 2014 election.

Sonora resident Robert Carabas, a Democrat, has also pulled papers for a potential run, according to the county elections office. However, he said he’s currently unsure about the status of his campaign.