A revamped state election system has created a Nov. 6 runoff between two Republicans, Frank Bigelow and Rico Oller, for the 5th Assembly seat after the June primary.
Madera County Supervisor Bigelow and Calaveras County businessman Oller were the leading vote getters in the June primary election, with Oller edging Bigelow by 4.5% of the vote. Oller received 33.4% and Bigelow had 28.9% of the 102,287 total votes cast.
The primary was the first election in California that allowed the public to vote for any statewide candidate regardless of what party preference was indicated on their voter registration. In the new system, the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, advanced to Tuesday's general election.
The 5th District includes the foothill and mountain areas of nine counties from Calaveras (Placerville) in the north to Madera in the south.
Bigelow, from O'Neals, is a four-term Madera County Republican supervisor representing District 2.
His family has lived in Madera County and owned Ponderosa Telephone Company and cattle ranch Bigelow Farms for more than 100 years.
Bigelow worked his way up the ranks of Ponderosa Telephone to vice president and remains active with his family's cattle ranch.
Bigelow is also a past-president of the California State Association of Counties, representing 58 counties. His wife Barbara sits on the Chawanakee Unified School District board of trustees.
He said he's running to help make a better future for his three children and two grandchildren.
Bigelow has endorsements from Congressmen Jeff Denham and Devin Nunes, former Congressman George Radanovich, former California Secretary of State Bill Jones, Senator Tom Berryhill, Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, El Dorado County Supervisors Jack Sweeney and John Knight, Placer County Supervisor Kirk Uhler, four supervisors from Amador and Mono Counties, three supervisor from Madera and Mariposa counties and Madera County Sheriff John Anderson. In addition, the California Farm Bureau Federation, California Professional Firefighters, California Small Business Association, Crime Victims United of California and National Tax Limitation Committee have endorsed Bigelow.
Oller is from San Andreas in Calaveras County.
In 2000, he won election to the California State Senate representing its 1st District (Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento and Sierra counties). From 1996 until his election to the Senate, he represented the 4th Assembly District.
He started up Material Ventures, Inc. in 1981 and is currently chairman of the board of his company, employing about 40 people in San Andreas, Jamestown, Merced and Placerville.
In 2000, Oller won election to the California State Senate representing its 1st District (Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento and Sierra counties). From 1996 until his election to the Senate, Oller represented the 4th Assembly District.
He established Material Ventures, Inc. in 1981 and is currently chairman of the board of his company, employing about 40 people in San Andreas, Jamestown, Merced and Placerville.
Oller has endorsements from Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association, California Republican Assembly, Congressman Tom McClintock, National Rifle Association, California ProLife Council, California Taxpayer Protection Committee, sheriffs from El Dorado, Calaveras and Tuolumne Counties and a number of county supervisors in Amador, El Dorado, Calaveras, Mono and Tuolumne counties.
In a statement after the primary, Oller, 54, expressed confidence in Tuesday's election.
"My campaign, which stressed keeping taxes down on working people, reducing the regulatory burden on small businesses and opposing wasteful spending projects like the $68 billion high speed rail boondoggle clearly resonated with voters."
"We are fast approaching a day of reckoning," Oller said during the primary campaign. "We have completely over stepped our bounds ... California is nothing more than a really, really badly run corporation."
Oller said the state can't borrow anymore money and that it must cut more people to survive.
"We better elect some grown-ups," he said, adding that regulations have gotten out of hand.
Bigelow is equally confident in next week's vote.
"It's time for a change in Sacramento," Bigelow said. "We don't need recycled politicians in Sacramento to cause more of the same problems we already have. New blood and new ideas will bring new leadership to the Capitol and that will bring new results. I've got a track record of providing results and getting things done for the people I serve. I'll do the same thing in Sacramento."
Bigelow said the number one thing he hears when travelling throughout the district is the need for job creation and getting people back to work.
"I'm committed to working for small businessmen and women throughout California to revitalize the economy and create jobs." Bigelow said.
Bigelow said he will work to stop excessive government regulations if elected.
"It's hard to do even the simplest of things -- you can't do it," Bigelow said. "Regulations are killing us. When you talk about the root problem with jobs, it's there -- regulations."