Fourth District Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, who was appointed to the seat in May 2017 by Gov. Jerry Brown, was preparing for a full term in the post Wednesday.
Perez, who was appointed to the seat to fill the vacancy created by the death of Supervisor John Benoit, comfortably defeated Palm Desert City Councilwoman Jan Harnik in Tuesday’s election to retain the seat.
The former assemblyman has advocated several pro-veteran policies and has a record favoring large-scale developments. One of his foremost concerns is the Salton Sea and finding the funding needed to preserve the reservoir.
Harnik, who has served on the city council since 2010, billed herself as a proponent for accessible healthcare, expanded educational opportunities and greater public safety.
In campaign literature, the candidate quoted a letter from Benoit, apparently penned in his final days, praising her as “a highly qualified Coachella Valley leader” who “possesses the qualifications, skills, and character necessary to represent the Fourth District.”
Two other seats on the board were up for grabs in Tuesday’s election, but those races won’t be decided until a November runoff. Supervisors Marion Ashley and John Tavaglione will be vacating their seats at the end of this year. Ashley announced after his election to a fourth term in 2014 that he would not seek re-election to represent the Fifth District.
Former Assemblyman Russ Bogh led a five-candidate field in Tuesday’s primary, but he was well shy of a majority vote needed to claim the seat without a November runoff. He will face off in November against Calimesa Mayor Jeff Hewitt, who finished second in the balloting just ahead of Ashley’s chief of staff, Jaime Hurtado.
Bogh is running on a platform of bolstering law enforcement, “cutting waste in county government” and reducing homelessness.
In campaign literature, the Beaumont native says a “fresh set of eyes” is needed to look at how the Board of Supervisors is doing business and what can be done to improve county operations at the least expense. He’s a critic of the county’s $40 million contract with Netherlands-based KPMG, a professional services firm hired two years ago to augment efficiencies in all county agencies. But critics contend that on the public safety side, particularly the sheriff’s department, the company has yet to show any real results.
Hewitt said he is taking aim at the “procrastination, waste … and poor decisions” by county officials that he claims have resulted in higher costs to residents and fewer services.
“As the mayor of Calimesa, I demonstrated that with teamwork and thinking outside of the Big Government box, we can avoid the coming disaster,” Hewitt says.
He points to city’s success in chopping $650,000 from the fire services contract with the county as an example of good municipal stewardship.
Tavaglione is stepping down after a quarter-century on the board. The five-way race for the Second District seat was led by former Assemblyman Eric Linder, who will advance to the November runoff.
Unofficial results released early Wednesday indicated that Corona Mayor Karen Spiegel finished second to also reach the runoff. However, with all precincts reporting, Spiegel had just a 76-vote lead over educator Penny Newman, leaving the final result in doubt depending on the number of provisional and late ballots still remaining to be counted.
Linder touts his credentials as a tax fighter and states in campaign literature that “I will demand fiscal responsibility and cut taxes” if elected.
According to Linder, he would further focus on transportation projects designed to keep “the Inland Empire moving,” and he’d back efforts to improve educational opportunities and give law enforcement “every tool they need to protect” communities.
Spiegel says in a campaign statement that she has a proven record of promoting business growth, working to enhance infrastructure and supporting public safety. According to the mayor, one of her foremost concerns is the county’s structural budget deficit.
“It is important that we set realistic expectations and budget accordingly to remain fiscally solvent,” Spiegel says.
Newman points to her activism on behalf of the Center for Community Action & Environmental Justice as a defining element of her background.
“Where is our long-term plan for development, transportation and the future of Riverside County?” she says in a campaign statement. “Our county is experiencing poorly planned, rapid urbanization without investing in the necessary economic and physical infrastructure to maintain a high quality of life for our residents.”
She says the influence of developers and corporations needs to be curtailed.