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Primary Election nearing
congressional debate
Democratic candidate for California’s Congressional District 10 seat Josh Harder answers a question during a debate held at Stanislaus State in October. Harder was one of eight candidates who participated in the forum hosted by the Stanislaus State Democratic Party Club. - photo by File Photo

The June Primary Election is right around the corner, meaning it’s time to mail in those ballots or find your local polling place.

Local voters will select representatives in 21 offices and decide on five different measures on Tuesday, which is Election Day and the last day for Permanent Vote by Mail and All-Mail Precinct ballots to be returned. Nearly 70 percent of Stanislaus County residents vote by mail, or 158,734 of 234,414 voters.

In addition to the statewide offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, Attorney General, State Board of Equalization and U.S. Senator, there are a number of local elections taking place as well.

In the wake of the 2016 Presidential Election, races throughout the country are attracting national media attention – one of those being a contentious competition that local voters will have a say in on Tuesday. Six candidates are vying to replace Rep. Jeff Denham in District 10, which is listed as one of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s initial targets in their mission of flipping Republican-controlled districts over to Democrats.

The DCCC is looking to unseat over 60 Republicans next year – seven of whom are Californians, including Denham. After Denham defeated challenger Michael Eggman last year despite an excess of funding from the DCCC, the committee has refocused its efforts on California’s 10th District, naming it as one of the seven Republican-held areas in the state that they plan to target.

Democrats Mike Barkley, Michael Eggman, Josh Harder, Virginia Madueño and Sue Zwahlen and Republican Ted Howze have all made it clear throughout their individual campaigns that they believe it’s time for a change in who represents the district, whether it be at candidate forums and debates or through Facebook posts criticizing Denham.

While Denham hasn’t attended a debate or forum, the events he has shown up for since the other candidates’ campaigns began have been targets for protestors.

Following Tuesday’s election, the top-two vote getters – regardless of party – will advance to the Nov. 6 General Election.

Another tense race is the competition to see who will lead the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department: Lt. Jeff Dirkse, chief of contract police services in Patterson, or Sgt. Juan Alanis, who serves in Waterford and Hughson.

The two candidates have been at odds throughout their respective campaigns, taking shots at each other both on social media and through public statements. The Stanislaus Sworn Deputies Association, who has endorsed Dirkse, posted a letter to Facebook in May which detailed Alanis’ employment history, including poor performance ratings.

In response, Alanis has contested the claims and put his personnel file up for viewing on his website. During his campaign, Alanis has been vocal in criticizing Sheriff Adam Christianson, who has endorsed Dirkse, for his alleged mistreatment of employees.

With only two candidates, the top vote-getter in the Sheriff’s race will be named to the office.

Three education veterans are vying to become Stanislaus County’s new Superintendent of Schools. Gratton School District Superintendent Shannon Sanford, Waterford Unified School District Superintendent Don Davis and Stanislaus County Office of Education Assistant Superintendent Scott Kuykendall have all tossed their hats into the ring to replace County Superintendent Tom Changnon, who announced in January that he would not be seeking reelection.

California State Senate and Assembly races will also be narrowed down on Tuesday, with candidates hoping to replace District 8 Senator Tom Berryhill and District 12 Senator Anthony Cannella, who are terming out of office, and just one challenger to face incumbent District 12 Assemblyman Heath Flora.

Four candidates have filed to claim Berryhill’s soon-to-be open seat – Republican Andreas Borgeas, Democrats Tom Pratt and Paulina Miranda and Independent Mark Belden - and another four would like to take Cannella’s, including Democrats Anna Caballero and Daniel Parra and Republicans Johnny Tacherra and Rob Poythress.

In the California State Assembly, all 80 seats are up for election in 2018. One candidate, Robert Chase, has filed to run against Assembly District 12 incumbent Heath Flora, while no candidates are opposing Assembly District 21 incumbent Adam Gray.

Voters won’t just be voting for representatives on Tuesday; they’ll also have some measures to consider.

Proposition 68 authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds for parks, natural resources protection, climate adaptation, water quality and supply, and flood protection, and local government savings for natural resources-related projects will likely average several tens of millions of dollars annually over the next few decades.

Proposition 69 requires that certain revenues generated by a 2017 transportation funding law be used only for transportation purposes and generally prohibits Legislature from diverting funds to other purposes. There will be no direct effect on the amount of state and local revenues or costs, but it could affect how some monies are spent.

Proposition 70, beginning in 2024, requires that cap-and-trade revenues accumulate in a reserve fund until the Legislature, by a two-thirds majority, authorizes use of the revenues. Beginning in 2024, there would also be a potential temporary increase in state sales tax revenue, ranging from none to a few hundred million dollars annually, and possible changes in how revenue from sale of greenhouse gas emission permits is spent.

Proposition 71 provides that ballot measures approved by a majority of voters shall take effect five days after the Secretary of State certifies the results of the election.

Proposition 72 permits Legislature to allow construction of rain-capture systems, completed on or after January 1, 2019, without requiring property-tax reassessment.

Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on June 5. There are 145 polling places through Stanislaus County; to find yours, visit Election Day ballot counts will be posted on the website following the close of polls at 8 p.m.