By Reggie Ellis
Following a crowded primary race for District 1 Supervisor, two farmers remain standing to face off in the November general election. Citrus farmer Allen Ishida of Lindsay led the pack garnering 31.4 percent of the vote. Peach farmer Frank "Bud" Pinkham of Exeter came in second with 28.86 percent of the vote.
"I am proud that we have two farmers in the run off," Ishida said. "I was confident I would be in the top two."
"Allen is a fine candidate who will be tough to beat, but I think I'm going to win," Pinkham said.
To avoid a run off in November, one candidate would have to garner 50 percent plus one vote. In cases where a run off is necessary, only the top two candidates can be on the November ballot. The final tally will not be announced until March 30 as the Tulare County Elections Office continued to count absentee ballots as of press time. Exeter businesswoman Marlene Sario finished third with 25.45 percent of the vote, missing the cut by about 400 votes. It is unclear how many absentee ballots remained to be counted, but Sario said she has conceded second place to Pinkham.
"I want to thank all of the people that supported me and I am very proud of the clean and honest campaign that we ran," Sario said.
Sario said all of the remaining money from her campaign will be donated to the Exeter Boys & Girls Club.
Ishida said his answers on growth and air quality were what separated him from the other candidates. He said he was the only candidate that looked to high speed rail and freight rail to alleviate the hazardous air quality in the Central Valley.
"It doesn't seem like anyone is looking down [Highway] 99 and seeing it as a conduit for commuters and trucks servicing the metropolitan areas to the north and south and we are stuck with the bad air," Ishida said. "Farmers are tired of being penalized when there are other culprits."
Ishida said he is also one of the only candidates to have a diverse background in planning, commercial real estate, government and farming.
"I bring a different perspective to all the issues," he said. "It is unusual for a candidate to have such a diverse background and I think people are tired of electing people who don't have experience working on both sides of the issues."
Ishida admitted that having two candidates split the Exeter vote and being able to carry Lindsay probably helped his campaign. Pinkham said he is unsure what made the difference in his campaign. Sario suggested that she was hurt in Farmersville by the endorsement of Ruben Macareno. She said many people may have assumed that she supported the political power plays within the Farmersville Unified School District. Macareno's brother, Martin, is the president of the FUSD Board which put Superintendent Janet Jones on administrative leave earlier this year for publically campaigning for board incumbents Al Vanderslice and Don Mason in the November election.
"In am an inclusive person and tried not to exclude anyone from my campaign, but I think that hurt me in Farmersville," Sario said.
Sario said she isn't looking to run for any other public office but will continue her involvement with the Tulare County Republican Central Committee on which she has served for eight years.
Candidates Harroll Wiley of Visalia and Gary Potter of Three Rivers only earned 6.5 percent and 5.72 percent of the vote respectively. There are 27,115 registered voters in District 1. Approximately 11,500 of them voted in the March 2 primary election.
Incumbent District 1 Supervisor, and current board chairman, Bill Sanders did not seek re-election. A Lindsay native, Sanders has served his hometown well, including his support for the county, taking $750,000 from the misunderstood Millennium Fund to help pay for a downtown library in Lindsay.
Ishida said he obviously has an affinity for Lindsay but will serve the entire area.
"Bill has done a good job, but he has his own style and priorities and I have mine," Ishida said. "I have a great respect for Bill, but I'm a different person."
Pinkham said he also respected what Sanders had done for District 1, but said it would be great for Exeter to have a hometown candidate.
"I am glad that there is someone from Exeter being represented in the run off," Pinkham said. "I knew that at least myself and/or Marlene were going to be there in November."