Local races fire up for November election | TheUnion.com

Local races fire up for November election

Christopher Rosacker
Staff Writer

Elections in Nevada County are heating up with contentious races taking shape for fire districts, school boards and municipal bodies while other races have extended deadlines to allow for more candidates.

Many of the races are taking place in Nevada County’s more than a dozen school districts, yet one of the hottest races is for seats on the board of directors for the county’s consolidated fire district, which was recently rocked by internal strife after its chief stepped down amid allegations of employee abuse.

Nevada County Consolidated Fire District also has had budgetary issues that pushed administrators to pursue an ultimately successful sales tax increase.

Board member Ralph Hitchcock is not seeking re-election, reported district staff. Instead newcomers William Habbelett Jr. and Linda Chaplin are vying for a seat along with incumbents John Leonard, Robert Rhodes, Keith Grueneberg and chair Warren Knox.

With Hitchcock not seeking office, the deadline for candidates to file paperwork with the Nevada County Clerk Recorder’s office, which oversees elections, was extended from Aug. 10 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, reported Elise Strickler, senior clerk-recorder assistant at the county’s elections office.

While the fire district race certainly is heating up, the majority of the county’s races are for school boards, including the largest school district around.

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Two defending incumbents on the Nevada Joint Union High School District board, which encompasses Bear River, Ghidotti Early College and Nevada Union high schools, are facing challengers.

Board President Katy Schwarz must defeat Jim Drew, a former teachers union representative and well known supporter of agricultural programs.

“It should be a good race. I have a lot of support,” Drew said. “We’re looking forward to it.”

Drew vied for former Board President Mark Heauser’s vacant seat in September, ultimately losing to appointee Jim Adams. Due to shifted district boundaries, Drew now falls into Schwarz’s representative area.

Adams, a regional vice president of Ray Morgan, is facing opposition from two contenders, Paul Aguliar and Cindy Latimer, who also vied for Heauser’s seat.

“That’s good that people are stepping up,” Drew said. “A lot of times school races are uncontested.”

Nevada City School District board President Paula Campbell is also defending her seat, along with board member Trish Gerving. Newcomers Eir Ruark-Minett and Augustine Del Valle, who are affiliated with neighborhood organization Friends of Nevada City Elementary, are contending for Campbell and Gerving’s open seats.

The candidacy filing deadline for Pleasant Valley Elementary School District was extended until 5 p.m. Wednesday because incumbents Jim Shroyer and Tina Skrukrud have not sought re-election. Instead, newcomer Richard Faciana is seeking one of the two open seats, and no one had filed for the other as of press time.

With James Voss, president of the Nevada County Board of Education, not seeking re-election and still no one filing candidacy papers, the deadline for that seat has also been extended to 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Clear Creek School District also has an extended deadline after incumbent David Wallace did not file candidacy papers. Ready Springs has the same situation with Nicholette Granholm.

Twin Ridges and Union Hill also have extended deadlines due to incumbents not seeking re-election.

In the event that a district is left with an open seat and no candidates, the remaining members of the school board appoint a qualified person after soliciting applicants and holding interviews during public meetings.

For districts whose incumbents are uncontested, such as Chicago Park School District, the district may choose to forgo the cost of an election, said Superintendent Dan Zeisler.

Schools aren’t the only ones offering choices in the upcoming election, both races for Nevada Irrigation District’s board of directors has contenders challenging the incumbents. Both Nick Wilcox and Scott Miller must defend their seats from John Meeks and Guy Tortorici respectively.

Lastly, one of the more closely watched local races this year will be for Grass Valley’s City Council. Councilwoman Yolanda Cookson is not seeking re-election, but Councilwoman Lisa Swarthout and Mayor Jan Arbuckle have filed.

Contesting the incumbents is Howard Levine, former Downtown Association director, while Patricia Tureaud and Jim Firth both have announced their intentions to run but had not submitted final paperwork with the elections office as of press time Monday.

The prospective candidates have until 5 p.m. Wednesday to submit their paperwork.

To contact Staff Writer Chris Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4236.

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