Editor's note: This is the first of a two-part series on the June 5 primary election.
The June 5 primary election will present a first for California thanks to Proposition 14, "The Top Two Open Primary Act of 2010," approved by voters on June 8, 2010.
In this new system, the public can vote for any statewide candidate regardless of what party preference was indicated on their voter registration and the top two, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the general election in November.
In the U.S. Senate race, for example, voters will select from 24 candidates of all parties with the top two moving on. The Democrat incumbent is Dianne Feinstein.
California's new open primary system applies only to "non-partisan" races for U.S. Senate, Congress, State Senate and Assembly and not for the presidential race.
Madera County's Clerk-Recorder Rebecca Martinez feels voter turn-out will be about the same as the June 2010 gubentorial primary election which was 45.6%. In that election, turn-out was 15.6% at the polls and 30% by mail. In June of 2008, the turn-out for the non-presidential election was just 9.3% at the polls and 27.2% by mail.
There are 52,611 registered votes in Madera County with 30.5%, 16,067, in the foothill and mountain supervisorial District 5. Those voters will cast their vote at seven locations in Eastern Madera County while voters will utilize 33 polling location in the Valley portion of the county.
"The primary races generally does not bring out as many voters as the November general elections," Martinez said. "Typically local contests bring out more votes and this June there is only one county-wide race and that's the Superior Court Judges race between the incumbent Joseph A. Soldani and Madera attorney Brian Austin."
The turn-out could also be affected now that the presidential race is all but finalized between the Democrat incumbent President Barack Obama and the Republican front runner, Mitt Romney.
Although serious budget cuts have reduced the county's election department in half from eight to four over the past three years, Martinez expects her department to oversee the election without a hitch.
"We have met all our deadlines and are looking for a smooth running election June 5," Martinez said.
Madera County election results will be on-line by clicking on the 'election results' drop down bar at madera-county.com. Martinez said mail-in ballots will be counted by 8 p.m. on election day. The numbers will be updated throughout the night as the results from 54 precincts are turned in.
Martinez plans on all Madera County results to be completed between 11 p.m. and midnight on election night.
5th state assembly district race
Six candidates, including four-term Madera County Supervisor Frank Bigelow, are in the newly drawn 5th Assembly District race. The district includes the foothill and mountain areas of nine counties from Calaveras (Placerville) in the north to Madera in the south.
Republican Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen currently holds the 5th District seat.
Three of the candidates are Republican including Bigelow, Rico Oller and Kevin Lancaster. Two are Democrats, Marc Boyd and Tim Fitzgerald and the sixth candidate, Mark Beldon is an Independent.
Republicans have 43% of registered voters in the district while the Democrats have 32%.
Boyd is the endorsed candidate of the Democratic Party and has stated he is tired of gridlock and he will help create a robust economy and eliminate cuts.
Bigelow, 57, and Oller, 53, are the only two candidates with political experience -- Bigelow at the county level and Oller who has served in both the Assembly and the state Senate.
Bigelow has raised more than $335,000 which includes a personal loan of $50,000 to his campaign.
In addition, $235,000 in "independent expenditures" dedicated to Bigelow, has been contributed through the Mother Lode Taxpayers Association. Those funds include $150,000 from the California Real Estate Committee, $75,000 from the California Dental Association and $10,000 from the California Cattlemen's Association. Contributions of $3,900 have come from Food 4 Less, B-K Lighting of Madera, Wagner & Wagner of Fresno, Mary F. Bigelow, Elizabeth Silkwood, Russell Harris, Carcomm,Inc. of San Francisco and Riverview Ranch in Chowchilla.
He has received endorsements from Congressmen Jeff Denham and Devin Nunes, former Congressman George Radanovich, former California Secretary of State Bill Jones, Senator Tom Berryhill and Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen. In addition, the California Farm Bureau, California Professional Firefighters and Crime Victims United of California have endorsed Bigelow.
Oller has raised close to $200,000, including a personal $100,000 loan to his campaign.
Contributions include $3,900 from Stanley Lukowicz, Pacific Coast Companies, Inc., Doreen Lukowicz, Citizens for Brulte, Calaveras Telephone Co., Gun Owners of California and McClintock for Congress.
Oller has received endorsements from Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association, National Rifle Association, California ProLife Council, Congressman Tom McClintock, California Taxpayer Protection committee and a number of county supervisors in Amador, El Dorado, Calaveras, Mono and Tuolumne counties.
4th congressional district seat
There are two candidates for the U.S. Congressional District 4 seat, incumbent Tom McClintock, 55, of Rocklin and retired business executive Jack Uppal, 57, of Lincoln.
McClintock decided to seek reelection making it his mission to curtail government bureaucracy and Uppal has stated he is running for the office because he is frustrated with Congressional partisan squabbles.
Madera County Board of Supervisors seats
Two seats on the Madera County Board of Supervisors will be decided June 5 by Valley voters.
Four candidates are running for District 3, the seat open after the retirement of Ronn Dominici. The candidates are Madera City Councilman Gary Svanda, self-employed businessman Rick Farineli, physician/arbritator/teacher Loraine Goodwin (who is also running for U.S. Congressional District 16) and administrative assistant Isabel Barreras.
Incumbent District 4 Supervisor Max Rodriguez is running unopposed.
The May 31 edition of the Sierra Star will run Assembly District 5 candidate statements.