County Assessor Kidwell announces retirement

Candidates finalized for June primary

editor@sierrastar.comMarch 18, 2014 

After 20 years of service, Madera County Assessor Tom Kidwell has announced his retirement, effective Dec. 31.

In a prepared statement released March 13, Kidwell said that after 50 years of service to his community, he made the decision to retire from public life.

"When I was first elected 20 years ago, I felt a deep sense of stewardship for the County as a whole," Kidwell said. "That sense of stewardship continues ... I just plan to exercise it in other ways. "While I had intended to run for another term, I do not feel that I would be willing to serve the full four years as would be expected. I feel it was an honor and a pleasure to have served the people of Madera County."

In addition to his county assessor position, Kidwell, a former Air Force officer, has been active in Scouting, his church, VFW, American Legion, and is a past president of the Madera Rotary Club.

Gary Svanda, who is coming to the end of his third, four-year term on the Madera City Council (two terms as mayor), has entered the June primary race, along with Oakhurst broker/appraiser Scott Runtzel, to fill Kidwell's position. The job has an annual salary of $115,882.

Svanda at one time was a financial investment counselor with Edward Jones Investments in Madera. Prior to Edward Jones, Svanda owned and operated the GM and Toyota store in Madera with a satellite store in Oakhurst under the name of Pacesetter Automotive Center. He had 27 years in the retail automotive business, 17 as the owner of the dealership.

He is currently the chairman of the Madera County Transportation Commission, and an executive member of the Madera County Economic Development Commission. He is a past chairman of the Madera Housing Authority and the Madera Redevelopment Agency.

Svanda has also served as president of the Madera Chamber of Commerce, president of the Madera Breakfast Lions club, and board member of the Madera Hospital Foundation.

"My private and public background makes me uniquely qualified to continue the great work originated by my predecessor," Svanda said. "My working lifetime has been defined by earning the trust of the clients of constituents that I serve."

Svanda lost to Rick Farinelli, by 60 votes in June election for District 3 supervisor.

Runtzel, who resides in Bass Lake, is president of the Yosemite Gateway Association of Realtors and president of Region 12 of the California Association of Realtors. He has 35 years experience in residential appraising, real estate, banking, and county employment with the tax collectors office.

He feels he has the right combination of experience and education to effectively manage the assessor's office.

Kidwell said he is endorsing Svanda as his successor as Madera County Assessor, calling him a proven leader and manager with mature vision.

The county slate of candidates was finalized as of 5 p.m., March 12, according to the county elections division.

Incumbents who will run unopposed and their annual salary include District 2 Supervisor David Rodgers ($78,652), School superintendent Cecilia Massetti ($162,715), Clerk-Recorder Rebecca Martinez ($101,010), and Treasurer-Tax Collector Tracy Kennedy-Desmond ($110,140).

District 5 Board of Supervisors

Incumbent Tom Wheeler of North Fork.

Paul Cliby of Coarsegold; firefighter.


Michael Kime of Madera; former police chief of Madera, law-enforcement consultant.

Michael Salvador of Madera; undersheriff of Madera County and member of the Madera Unified School District Board of Trustees.

Jay Varney of Chowchilla; police chief and former interim city administrator of Chowchilla.

Gregory Noll of Oakhurst; detective sergeant with the Fresno Police Department.

Dennis Fairbanks of Coarsegold; retired CHP supervisor.

Frank Gauthier of Madera County; former Madera County sheriff deputy, Air Force veteran, corporate security manager.

District Attorney

Incumbent Michael Keitz of Madera; district attorney of Madera County.

David Linn of Oakhurst; attorney at law.

Miranda Neal of Madera; deputy county counsel of Madera County.


Scott Runtzel of Bass Lake; Realtor.

Gary Svanda of Madera; financial advisor, former mayor of Madera and city councilman.


Incumbent Marcia Hall of Chowchilla; auditor-controller of Madera County.

Todd Miller of Oakhurst; certified public accountant.

District 1 Board of Supervisors

Brett Frazier of Madera Ranchos; pizza restaurant operator, former Madera City Council member.

Rochelle Noblett of Madera; retail store owner.

Raymond A. Krause of O'Neals; winemaker, former member of Madera County Planning Commission.

Gary W. Johns of Madera Ranchos; small businessman.

Mona Diaz of Madera; Golden Valley Unified School District board president.

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