As of late Tuesday night, with only a 30% voter turnout, it seemed that Madera County was satisfied with some of it’s current political figures and felt change was needed with others.
In the heated district attorney race neither incumbent District Attorney Michael Keitz or Oakhurst attorney David Linn were able to secure 50% plus one vote to outright win the primary election. The two combined to receive 80% of the total vote and will face off in the November general election.
At press time, Keitz had 5,136 votes (36.5%) and Linn received 6,121 (43.5%). Candidate Marinda Neal received 2,769 votes (19.7%).
Both Linn and Neal entered the race in hopes of defeating Keitz citing a supposed intolerable working environment, several lawsuits filed against the DA’s office over the years, and the controversial Rowley report, as reasons why the two decided to run.
Neal, upon receiving 19.7% of the vote and being eliminated from the November race, announced late Tuesday night in a prepared statement that she is asking her supporters to vote for Linn in the November election. “It was an honor and privilege to meet and get to know many people during this race,” Neal said. “I am now asking my supporters to vote for David Linn in November.”
Prior to the election, Keitz, who started his career in law enforcement in 1980 as a Madera County volunteer reserve deputy sheriff, said he was confident that he has the support and backing of his current staff and noted that lawsuits are in part do to the inability of certain individuals to work in a demanding profession.
Throughout the campaign Linn accused Keitz of creating a hostile work environment which has amassed a 100% deputy DA turnover since his (Keitz) arrival. Keitz responded during several debates over the past few months, saying the cause for turnover was do to low-pay and large case loads, something he has little control over.
Keitz said Linn lacks the proper knowledge to criticize him as Linn does not know the innerworkings of the department. Sheriff’s race
Sheriff's race In the sheriff’s race, six highly qualified candidates were vying for the position after current Sheriff John Anderson announced his retirement.
At press time, Jay Varney and Michael Salvador received the majority of the votes and will run-off in November. Varney received 4,656 votes (31.4%) and Salvador received 3,241 (21.9%).
Each of the two candidates expressed appreciation to the voters who took to the polls and voted on their behalf.
“I feel fortunate that I am number two and we are off to a good start,” Salvador said Tuesday night. “I would have liked to be number one, but as long as I am one of the two going on to November I am ok with that. Now we will get back to work and see what happens in November.”
Varney said he felt confident about the nights results but admitted the race was far from over and is fully aware of the challenges ahead.
“It’s kind of nice to take a breath. It’s like a stage race and it’s nice to take a breather, but then it’s time to get back on it,” Varney said. “I feel confident we can maintain a lead and this will make us double our efforts. We are not going to get lazy.”
The other four sheriff candidates were Dennis Fairbanks who received 2,658 votes (18%), Michael Kime who received 1,694 votes (11.4%), Greg Noll who received 1,569 votes (10.6%), and Frank Gauthier who received 953 votes (6.4%).
Wheeler wins in landslide In the District 5 supervisor race, incumbent Tom Wheeler won his third term on the board by a landslide, receiving 3,860 votes (64.7%), while his opponent, firefighter and community volunteer Paul Cliby received 2,094 votes (35.1%).
Mona Diaz (773 - 24.4%) and Gary Johns (681 - 21.5%) had the most votes in the District 1 supervisor race, and will move on to the November election pending the final results.
County auditor In the county auditor-controller race, Todd Miller defeated appointed incumbent Marcia Hall by close to 2,000 votes with Miller receiving 56.6% of the total vote.
County assessor Gary Svanda will step into office, defeating Scott Runtzel. Svanda, a City of Madera city councilman and two-time mayor, received 7,922 votes (56.4%) to Oakhurst appraiser/broker Runtzel’s 6,064 (43.2%).
Unopposed David Rogers ran unopposed in District 2 and will retain his seat as District 2 County Supervisor. Madera County Superior Court Judges Ernest Li Calsi and Michael Jurkovich also ran unopposed as did County Clerk - Recorder Becky Martinez, Tax Collector - Treasurer Tracy Desmond, and County Superintendent of Schools Cecilia Massetti.
Results from the 76 precincts are unofficial until the Madera County Elections Division completes a canvas of the results and a reconciliation of all the votes is done by the the county clerk’s office. By law, the finale canvas and reconciliation must be completed within 28 days from June 5.