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Voters face full ballot in June

POSTED May 11, 2012 9:30 p.m.

The 10th District U.S. Congress race is just one item on a full ballot facing voters in the June 5 Presidential Primary Election.

Voters will help determine which presidential candidates will make the November ballot. And voters will complete the primaries for one of California’s U.S. Senate seats, currently held by Diane Feinstein (D).

Locally, three Stanislaus County Supervisor seats are up for grabs – incumbent Bill O’Brien, running unopposed for District 1; incumbent Vito Chiesa, unopposed in District 2; and incumbent Jim DeMartini, facing Water Resources Engineer Daniel Padilla for the District 5 seat.

Voters will also select two candidates to reach the November ballot in a number of state races, in districts altered by this year’s redistricting.

In the State Senate District 5 race, Bill Berryhill, a farmer and current Republican Assemblyman from the 26th District, will face off with Cathleen Galgiani, the current Democratic Assemblywoman from the 17th District, and Leroy Ornellas, a Republican who sits as a San Joaquin County Supervisor and works as a dairy farmer.

The State Assembly District 12 race will see Kristen Olsen, the current Republican Assemblywoman from the 25th District, face Christopher Mateo, a Democratic Lathrop City Council member. Both candidates cite job creation, balancing the budget, and educational reform as their top three priorities.

A crowded slate awaits voters in the State Assembly District 21 race, with four democrats and a republican in the field. Democrats Robert Sellers, a licensed general contractor, Lesa Rasmussen, a businesswoman, Tommy Jones, a teacher, and Adam C. Gray, a university lecturer will square off with republican Jack Mobley, a business owner and retired Air Force officer. As with all state races, the top two vote getters will reach the November ballot, regardless of party affiliation.

Seats on the Stanislaus County Republican and Democrat Central Committees will also be determined by voters on June 5.

Three propositions also seek voter approval, chief among them the Stanislaus County Library Tax, also known as Measure T. The measure would renew a 1/8-cent sales tax for five years. The tax has been in place for 17 years, previously earning voter approval to continue

The tax accounts for 87 percent of the Stanislaus County Library system’s annual budget, costing the average Stanislaus County family $1.66 per month. Without the tax, many branches would likely close.

Should Measure T fail to garner the required two-thirds “yes” votes, supporters will have another chance to earn voter approval. The current tax does not expire until 2013.

Proposition 28 would limit the total amount of time a person may serve in the state legislature from 14 years to 12 years. That time could be spent in any combination of the Assembly or Senate, where previously legislators had to switch houses in order to serve the full 14 years. The proposition would only apply to legislators first elected after the measure’s passage.

Proponents, including the League of Women Voters of California and the California Fair Political Practices Commission, say the hard 12-year limit would make legislators more accountable and allow legislators to focus on doing their jobs.

Opponents say Prop 28 is a scam which actually extends term limits by allowing legislators to remain in seats without having to change houses; a study by U.S. Term Limits showed 80 percent of legislators would have their time in office lengthened and 8 percent would have time in office reduced.

Proposition 29 would add a 5 cent per cigarette tax, and an equivalent tax on other tobacco products, to fund cancer research. The measure would raise about $735 million annually for research, plus $50 million for tobacco prevention and cessation programs and between $10 and $20 million in state and local sales tax.

Proponents like the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, and American Heart Association say Prop 29 would support cancer research, keep kids from smoking, and only require smokers to pay.

Opponents term the measure “thirteen pages of fine print, loopholes and flaws,” noting the measure creates new bureaucracy, does not require funding be spent in California, provides no funds to treat cancer patients, and prohibits the Governor and legislature from changing the initiative for 15 years, even in the case of fraud or waste.

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