Valley News -

County supervisors seats still in flux as vote-counting drags


Last updated 6/6/2018 at 8:11am

Fourth District Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, who was appointed to the seat in May 2017 by Gov. Jerry Brown, appeared to be heading for a second term today.

Perez, who was appointed to the seat to fill the vacancy created by the death of Supervisor John Benoit, was holding a comfortable lead over Palm Desert City Councilwoman Jan Harnik in his bid to retain the seat, but vote-

counting slowed to a crawl early Wednesday with just over half of precincts reporting.

The former assemblyman has advocated several pro-veteran policies and has a record favoring large-scale developments. One of his foremost concerns is the Salton Sea and finding the funding needed to preserve the reservoir.

Harnik, who has served on the city council since 2010, says she's a proponent for accessible healthcare, expanded educational opportunities and greater public safety.

In campaign literature, the candidate quotes a letter from Benoit, apparently penned in his final days, praising her as "a highly qualified Coachella Valley leader'' who "possesses the qualifications, skills, and character necessary to represent the Fourth District.''

Two other seats on the board were up for grabs in Tuesday's election. Supervisors Marion Ashley and John Tavaglione will be vacating their seats at the end of this year. Ashley announced after his election to a fourth term in 2014 that he would not seek re-election to represent the Fifth District.

Former Assemblyman Russ Bogh was leading the five-candidate field as ballots were slowly tabulated early Wednesday, although he was well shy of a majority vote needed to claim the seat without a November runoff. Calimesa Mayor Jeff Hewitt was running a close second, followed by Ashley's chief of staff, Jaime Hurtado.

Bogh is running on a platform of bolstering law enforcement, "cutting waste in county government'' and reducing homelessness.

In campaign literature, the Beaumont native says a "fresh set of eyes'' is needed to look at how the Board of Supervisors is doing business and what can be done to improve county operations at the least expense. He's a

critic of the county's $40 million contract with Netherlands-based KPMG, a professional services firm hired two years ago to augment efficiencies in all county agencies. But critics contend that on the public safety side,

particularly the sheriff's department, the company has yet to show any real results.

Hewitt takes aim at the "procrastination, waste ... and poor decisions'' by county officials that he claims have resulted in higher costs to residents and fewer services.

"As the mayor of Calimesa, I demonstrated that with teamwork and thinking outside of the Big Government box, we can avoid the coming disaster,'' Hewitt says.

He points to city's success in chopping $650,000 from the fire services contract with the county as an example of good municipal stewardship.

Hurtado vows to continue Ashley's legacy of "accessible, responsive and effective leadership'' if elected.

"As your supervisor, I will work hard every day to fully fund law enforcement, fire protection and emergency services; help local businesses grow and create good jobs; expand programs that keep our kids safe and help them

succeed; (and) protect funding for the services our veterans and seniors rely on.''

Tavaglione is stepping down after a quarter-century on the board. The five-way race for the Second District seat was being led by former Assemblyman Eric Linder, followed by Corona Mayor Karen Spiegel and educator Penny Newman, in a race destined for a November runoff.

Linder touts his credentials as a tax fighter and states in campaign literature that "I will demand fiscal responsibility and cut taxes'' if elected.

According to Linder, he would further focus on transportation projects designed to keep "the Inland Empire moving,'' and he'd back efforts to improve educational opportunities and give law enforcement "every tool they

need to protect'' communities.

Newman points to her activism on behalf of the Center for Community Action & Environmental Justice as a defining element of her background.

"Where is our long-term plan for development, transportation and the future of Riverside County?'' she says in a campaign statement. "Our county is experiencing poorly planned, rapid urbanization without investing in

the necessary economic and physical infrastructure to maintain a high quality of life for our residents.''

She says the influence of developers and corporations needs to be curtailed.

Spiegel says in a campaign statement that she has a proven record of promoting business growth, working to enhance infrastructure and supporting public safety. According to the mayor, one of her foremost concerns is the

county's structural budget deficit.

"It is important that we set realistic expectations and budget accordingly to remain fiscally solvent,'' Spiegel says.


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