In The News

The primary’s almost 300 days away, but 11 candidates already are running for Riverside County supervisor


The Press-Enterprise | August 9, 2017

Three seats on the ballot plus two retirements equals no shortage of interest for the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.

Even though next year’s primary is almost 300 days away, 11 candidates already have filed to run for the board. Last year, six candidates, including both incumbents, competed for two seats in the primary.

The latest candidate, Russ Bogh, launched his campaign Monday, Aug. 7.

“I made the decision to seek the Fifth District Supervisorial seat because I want to play a more active role in the important financial decisions we need to make about our roads, criminal justice system and core county services,” Bogh, who served as a Republican in the Assembly from to 2001 to 2006, said in a news release.

It’s not the first crowded field for supervisor. John Tavaglione, the county’s longest-serving supervisor, recalls 13 candidates in the primary for his seat when he first ran in 1994.

The five supervisors serve staggered four-year terms. Each represents a district of more than 400,000 people.

Supervisors oversee a government with roughly 20,000 full-time employees and a $5.5 billion annual budget. They earn a base salary of more than $153,000 – there’s extra pay for attending various board and commission meetings – along with the use of a county vehicle or a $550-a-month car allowance, a taxpayer-funded pension, health insurance and other benefits.

With 2.3 million residents, the county, which ranks near New Jersey in square miles, is one of the nation’s most-populated and it’s one of California’s fastest-growing.

Running against an incumbent supervisor is normally an uphill fight. But Tavaglione and Supervisor Marion Ashley aren’t seeking re-election. Their terms expire at the end of 2018.

Six candidates have filed to run for Tavaglione’s seat, which represents Corona, Norco, Eastvale and Jurupa Valley and part of the city of Riverside. They are Corona council members Eugene Montanez and Karen Spiegel; Riverside Councilman Mike Gardner; former GOP Assemblyman Eric Linder; environmental activist Penny Newman and Will Martinez, who worked as Linder’s field representative.

Spiegel, who has Tavaglione’s backing, is leading the fundraising race, with more than $104,000 in her campaign account as of June 30.

Gardner reported $49,000 on-hand, Montanez had $43,000 and Newman, who entered the race in May, had close to $24,000 in the bank at the end of June. Fundraising information for Martinez was not available.

There’s no limit to how much one can give a supervisorial candidate or how much a candidate can raise. It typically takes six figures to mount a viable campaign.

Going well past that marker are the two candidates for the Fourth District seat representing the Coachella Valley. Supervisor V. Manuel Perez raised more than $266,000 by July 1 while Palm Desert Mayor Jan Harnik took in more than $237,000 between Jan. 1 and June 30.

A former Democratic assemblyman, Perez was appointed supervisor in May by Gov. Jerry Brown to serve out the term of John Benoit, who died of cancer in December. Benoit’s widow has endorsed Harnik.

While the office of supervisor is technically nonpartisan, Democratic officials are rallying around Perez, and Republican lawmakers are supporting Harnik.

Fifth District

Ashley represents the Fifth District, which includes Calimesa, the Pass, Moreno Valley, Perris and Menifee. Hoping to succeed him are Bogh, Menifee parks and recreation board member Altie Holcomb and Ashley’s chief of staff, Jaime Hurtado.

Hurtado raised almost $78,000 for his campaign between Jan. 1 and June 30 while Holcomb took in almost $7,900 in the same timeframe.

The Second, Fourth and Fifth district seats will be on the June 5, 2018, ballot. If no one gets a majority of the vote, the first- and second-place finishers will advance to a November runoff.

Whoever wins will come to office with the county struggling to gain footing financially. Tax revenue has not kept up with a growing list of expenses, from the rising cost of jail inmate health care mandated by a lawsuit settlement to a projected cost surge for an in-home care program for indigent adults who are elderly, disabled or both.

Supervisors also must decide whether to allow and regulate marijuana commerce in the county’s unincorporated areas or ban it outright. And there’s the perpetual challenge of attracting high-paying jobs in a county where long commutes to livable wages are a way of life.

Who’s in

Here are the candidates who have filed papers to run for Riverside County supervisor in 2018, according to the county Registrar of Voters.

Second District (part of Riverside; Corona; Norco; Eastvale; Jurupa Valley)

Mike Gardner, Riverside councilman

Eric Linder, former assemblyman

Will Martinez, former Linder aide

Eugene Montanez, Corona councilman

Penny Newman, environmental activist

Karen Spiegel, Corona councilwoman

Fourth District (Coachella and Palo Verde valleys)

Jan Harnik, Palm Desert mayor

V. Manuel Perez, incumbent

Fifth District (Calimesa, the Pass, Moreno Valley, Perris and Menifee)

Russ Bogh, former assemblyman

Altie Holcomb, Menifee parks and recreation board member

Jaime Hurtado, chief of staff to Supervisor Marion Ashley


View Original Publication: The Press-Enterprise