Check out this story from June for more information about previously announced candidates David Goldemberg, Dameion Renault and Kathleen Haff:

https://www.uniondemocrat.com/localnews/7211366-151/interest-grows-for-tuolumne-county-board-of-supervisors

Seven people have announced their intention to run for Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors in the March 3 presidential primary election.

Jaron Brandon, Steve Arreguin and Stephen Oropeza have recently announced their bids for the District 5 seat held by two-term incumbent Supervisor Karl Rodefer, who said he’s still undecided on whether he will run for re-election.

David Badgley has also announced he will be joining Dameion Renault and Kathleen Haff in the contest for the District 4 seat that will be vacated by retiring three-term incumbent Supervisor John Gray.

The District 1 seat held by two-term incumbent Supervisor Sherri Brennan will also be on the ballot. Brennan could not be reached for comment on whether she will run again. David Goldemberg has announced he will run for the seat.

Potential candidates are allowed to begin establishing campaign committees so they can start raising money by filing statements of organization with the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

Goldemberg, Brandon, Haff and Renault have filed the forms.

Debi Bautista, who serves as county clerk, auditor-controller, and registrar of voters, said the period to officially file will begin Nov. 11. Candidates can begin collecting signatures that will reduce their filing fee on Sept. 12.

“They can change their minds tomorrow and not run” at this point, Bautista said.

Bautista believes the number of potential candidates emerging this early is largely due to the fact the primary will be held three months earlier than it has in past elections.

The shift from June to March was made by former Gov. Jerry Brown to give the state a stronger voice in the presidential nomination process.

District 5

District 5 includes the communities of Columbia, Jamestown, Tuttletown, Stent and Gold Springs.

Brandon, of Jamestown, was the first to officially launch his campaign and announce his candidacy. He’s the only Tuolumne County native in the race and spent his early childhood living in different parts of District 5 with his mother, Lorie, who died of cancer in 2012.

At 27, Brandon is also the youngest of the candidates who have announced. His father, Ron, has owned and operated Live Oak Music in East Sonora for 26 years.

After graduating from Sonora High School in 2010, Brandon left the county to attend the University of California, Merced, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and government.

Brandon served as president of the student body while in college and worked as an intern for both Democractic and Republican lawmakers. He served on committees dealing with a $1 billion campus expansion and infrastructure projects for Merced County.

He got a job after college working in the Bay Area for a company that was developing a news aggregation service. He worked his way up to lead editor for the United States, but he quit in September and moved back home.

“I was very unsatisfied with the work and also the area,” he said. “I got along with the people, but I realized they weren’t my people in the Bay.”

Brandon said he ended up “falling back in love” with his hometown and decided he wanted to live in the county for the rest of his life. That led to some of his friends encouraging him to run for supervisor.

Brandon’s main issues are affordable housing, economic development and government transparency. He believes a supervisor should be both a visionary and communicator who listens and brings people into the process.

Brandon has established a campaign committee to begin raising money and cultivated a staff of about 15 volunteers, including a manager and treasurer. He’s working on a website, as well as an introductory video that he plans to release soon.

“My experience has helped prepare me, but I don’t believe it’s what qualifies me,” he said. “What qualifies me is I want to tap into our greatest strength, which is our community here,” he said.

Arreguin, 60, of Columbia, comes to the race with 35 years of experience in the corporate world. He works from home overseeing regulatory standards and processes for IHI Power Services Corp., a subsidiary of a Japanese power generation company that owns the Pacific Ultrapower Chinese Station biomass energy plant in Chinese Camp.

In 2009, Arreguin moved to the county from Cameron Park after being hired as plant manager of Pacific Ultrapower Chinese Station.

“I have a track record of turning organizations around and making them financially successful, while at the same time increasing employee morale,” he said. “I want to bring those skills to the supervisor role.”

Arreguin grew up in Los Angeles and lived most of his life in the Sacramento area before moving to the county.

He holds two master’s degrees from the University of Southern California in public administration and mechanical engineering, as well as a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Arreguin also has experience in nonprofit and public service as the chairman of Foothill Pregnancy Center since 2011, chairman of the county’s Local Agency Formation Commission, and a member of the Mother Lode Fairgrounds Board of Directors.

Arreguin said he would like to focus on promoting and establishing both fire resiliency and economic resiliency if elected.

He said he recently helped spearhead the creation of the Gold Springs Ranch Firewise USA community group, which is awaiting certification through the National Fire Protection Association.

Firewise USA is a program that aims to help communities work together on efforts for reducing fire risk, similar to Neighborhood Watch for crime. Arreguin would like to help others in the county become certified, as well as continuing to push for education on fire awareness.

For economic resiliency, Arreguin said he would work to bring more “green and clean” technology businesses to the county.

Arreguin wrote a letter in 2016 that was published in The Union Democrat strongly advocating for Rodefer’s re-election that year. He said on Friday that he didn’t want to criticize any sitting elected officials when asked about the letter, but he believes having more candidates is best for voters.

“I’ve learned that it’s a tough job, but my focus is to be listening to people,” he said. “My focus is to bring as many people together as possible to solve problems.”

Oropeza’s candidacy, meanwhile, is unique in that he’s the only one running who also recently turned himself into Tuolumne County Jail for a local misdemeanor warrant.

According to public records, Oropeza surrendered to the Sheriff’s Office on the morning of July 16 and was released from jail on his own recognizance that afternoon. He said he’s scheduled to appear in court next month.

The 39-year-old said his warrant stemmed from being unable to pay a fine that was part of a sentence he received for pleading guilty to misdemeanor possession of a methamphetamine pipe, but he maintains the pipe didn’t belong to him.

Oropeza, of Jamestown, said he was arrested in July 2017 after a law enforcement officer pulled him over and found the pipe in his vehicle, which he said fell out of a box belonging to a former friend whom he was helping move.

“Some of her items fell out in the back of my car and I got pulled over coming off of Tuolumne Road,” he said. “I didn’t know it was in there, the officer found it, and that was the start of me getting life in order.”

He said the arrest made him want to turn his life around. He admitted to struggling with meth addiction for about three years before that.

Oropeza’s road to recovery from addiction hit a stumbling block in April 2018 when he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. He said his license is suspended as a result, but he will be taking a class soon to get it restored.

Despite the personal setbacks, Oropeza said he’s been clean and sober for a year. He believes overcoming his past trials is part of what would make him a good supervisor.

“I pulled myself out of poverty, homelessness, and got clean and sober all at the same time,” he said. “My will is what I’m hoping to bring to Tuolumne County and the Board of Supervisors.”

Oropeza lived in the Bay Area during the early part of his childhood and moved to the county in 1994. He graduated from Turlock High School in 1997 and took some courses at Columbia College in 2009 and 2010.

He’s worked mostly as an in-home caretaker, but said he lost his most recent job in that field “because of other poor decisions.”

Oropeza wants to push for legalizing recreational cannabis by adopting regulations similar to those in Washington state. He said a friend convinced him to consider running just last month.

“I am ready for any challenge that is put forth to me,” he said. “Keeping myself busy is keeping myself out of my head and away from the negative.”

District 4

Badgley is the third to announce for the District 4 seat that will be vacated by retiring three-term County Supervisor John Gray.

Renault was the first to announce his plans to run, followed by Haff.

The district is the largest in size and covers an area to the south stretching from East Sonora to Big Oak Flat, Groveland, Pine Mountain Lake, and Lake Don Pedro, as well as a large undeveloped portion of Yosemite National Park.

Renault said he’s filed paperwork with the California Fair Political Practices Commission to form a campaign committee and created a calendar of events on his campaign website since he was last interviewed by The Union Democrat in late May.

He’s scheduled to meet with the Yosemite Highway 120 Chamber of Commerce in Groveland on July 25. He said he also recently met with the Tuolumne County Business Council.

“People are kind of connecting the dots now,” he said. “We’ve got pins, people have seen my name in the paper … It’s been very positive.”

Haff was still exploring a potential bid when interviewed by The Union Democrat in late May, but she has since officially decided to run and launched her campaign after listening sessions with groups in different parts of the district.

The listening sessions were held at homes in Groveland, the Old Wards Ferry area, Lambert Lake Estates, Curtis Creek Ranches, Pine Mountain Lake and Don Pedro.

“I was bolstered by these small gatherings,” she said. “That’s what encouraged me to run.”

Haff said she will speak in front of the Groveland Rotary Club this week and plans to hold launch parties in Groveland and Curtis Creek Ranch next month. She has also regularly been attending and providing input at Board of Supervisors meetings.

Badgley, 48, has lived in the district since May after he and his wife purchased their first home together in Groveland. He’s lived in the county since the late 1970s and grew up in Sugar Pine and Mi-Wuk Village.

Running for supervisor isn’t something Badgley planned to do, but he said friends and family encouraged him to give it a shot.

“They think I have a different way of doing things and looking at things,” he said.

Badgley started working in construction at 15 until he had to undergo surgery about six years ago that fused his right hand and wrist. He started a chainsaw carving business four years ago after someone randomly saw one of his pieces on his porch and offered to buy it.

One of Badgley’s chainsaw carvings is the statue of Bigfoot along Highway 108 near the Mi-Wuk General Store in Mi-Wuk Village.

Oropeza is assisting Badgley with a 20-foot statue he’s carving in Pine Mountain Lake. The pair have been friends for years and were asked to consider running by the same mutual friend, but Badgley said they are not campaigning as a team

“We have a lot of the same ideas and views on things and stuff, but we’re not a team,” he said. “I decided to run, and he was backing me, but then the opportunity came up for him to run and he jumped on it.”

Like Oropeza, legalizing commercial sales and cultivation of cannabis for recreation would be one of Badgley’s top goals if elected.

Badgley and his 26-year-old son are co-founders of a company called Bowlies that claims to produce “the world’s smallest cannabis plants.” He believes the county is missing out on a source of revenue out of fear.

“The people of California voted for recreational cannabis,” he said, referring to Proposition 64 in 2016 that passed with 57 percent of the vote statewide and 52 percent in the county. “I think the county and city should abide by that and give the majority what they asked for.”

District 1

Goldemberg is currently the only announced challenger in District 1.

The district mostly covers the three-square-mile City of Sonora limits and some surrounding communities, including Apple Valley Estates, most of Shaw’s Flat and areas south of Big Hill Road and Phoenix Lake.

Connie Williams, an elected member of the Sonora City Council and former mayor, has said she’s considering running and was still undecided when asked last week.

Goldemberg said he’s been attending and providing input at Board of Supervisors meetings, going to gatherings at peoples’ homes to speak with potential voters, and spoke to the Mother Lode League of Women Voters.

“I’m trying to gauge their concerns and see what they would like to have,” he said.

The issues that Goldemberg said he hears about from voters most frequently are fire safety and homeowners insurance.

Goldemberg said he doesn’t believe the county is doing enough when it comes to the growing number of people unable to find insurance or being dropped by their providers due to fire risk.

Brennan was among the county officials who recently went to Sacramento and discussed the issue with state Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, though he reportedly didn’t believe it was a widespread problem.

The county has since directed people to file complaints about insurance directly with the commissioner’s office.

“I’m wondering why the county isn’t being more proactive and gathering data and bringing it to the state themselves,” Goldemberg said. “I know they are working with RCRC (Rural County Representatives of California), but I’m not sure how much of a dent they are really getting with that.”

Goldemberg is also the only candidate so far to file a campaign finance report, which is required when a candidate raises and/or spends $1,000 or more.

The report showed that Goldemberg donated $3,500 on to his own campaign on May 13 and received $30 in small-dollar donations of less than $100, which doesn’t require the donors names to be disclosed.

According to the report, Goldemberg has paid $1,857 to Webdancers on Stockton Road in Sonora for work on his campaign website, $140 to Sonora accountant Robert A. Hawks for professional services, $248 to Crystal Nay, of Oakdale, for web-related work, and $500 to Judy Stoltenberg, of Twain Harte, for campaign literature and mailings.

Brennan and Rodefer both last filed campaign finance reports in May 2016, according to Robbie Bergstrom, assistant county clerk. They were each elected to four-years terms in June that year with more than 50 percent of the vote.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.

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