Three seats on the Kings County Board of Supervisors are up for grabs during the June 7 primary election. District 3 Supervisor Doug Verboon is running unopposed.
District 1, however, is a three-way runoff race, with Edward Neal and Martin Chavez challenging incumbent Joe Neves. If one of the candidates receives 50 percent of the vote, they will automatically win the seat. However, if no one manages to get that share, the top two vote-getters will run against each other in the November general election. The district encompasses Lemoore and Stratford.
The retirement of Craig Pedersen leaves District 4, encompassing Armona and parts of Hanford, wide open. Alicia Ramirez and Rusty Robinson vie for the seat.
The candidates in contested races responded to questions from the Sentinel, and the following are their answers. Those candidates who are not included did not respond by the deadline. Answers have been edited for brevity and content.
Name: Martin Chavez
A little about yourself: I was born and raised in Kings County attending local public schools including Lemoore High while dually enrolled at West Hills Community College. After earning a degree in economics from the University of California, Merced I chose to return to my hometown of Stratford to serve my community.
Since 2017, I have served on the Stratford Public Utilities District. Most recently, I served as a committee member for a statewide initiative to bring more water and funding for infrastructure to our Valley communities. I work as a farmer relations director for Pacific Farm Management Inc. In my role, I help Valley farmers navigate the challenges they face every day while being a regional advocate for the industry.
Contact information: Email email@example.com, or call 559-639-3308.
Why are you running for office? I have dedicated my life to the Central Valley, which is why I returned home after I graduated from UC Merced. We have so many great businesses and residents here in Kings County and I want to stand up for them and give them a voice. I promise to stand with them and represent them. I'm from Stratford and I attended Lemoore High School. I will be an ardent advocate for the great residents of District 1 and Kings County.
How are you different from your opponent(s)? I am not a career politician. Our current supervisor has been in office for over 27 years. I have never been elected to office and I believe we need to bring new ideas to our district and to our county.
My experience as the only candidate that works in the agriculture industry sets me apart. I will fight for our fair share of water and make sure that all our businesses and residents are heard and represented. I will attend local organizations and assure the residents that I am there fighting for them.
What is the biggest issue in your race and how will you solve this issue? There is no one big issue in my race for District 1. There are several. We must make sure we are providing safe roads, great drinking water, and be working with our local organizations to create partnerships to make sure our businesses thrive, and we must work collaboratively to make sure we welcome more businesses into our community.
Why should voters elect you? Voters should vote for me because I have a proven track record of fighting and advocating for them. When the well was tapped out in Stratford, I fought for them. I will fight for our residents and hope to bring a new energy to the Board of Supervisors.
Name: Joe Neves
A little about yourself: I am the third generation to graduate from Stratford Elementary and Lemoore High School. I am also the first generation to graduate from college. I have lived and worked my entire life in the district that I represent on the Board of Supervisors.
Married to wife Kathy for 36 years, we have two adult children Justin Lopez and Heather (Venegas) Lucas, along with eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Contact information: 559-816-3495 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why are you running for office? I enjoy public service and the role local government plays in everyone’s lives. The county offers many services to the public like public safety, transportation, library and county roads.
How are you different from your opponent(s)? My years of experience in county government, regional services and serving on a state committee insure that District 1 has a voice in many different governmental services.
I serve on the CalViva board of directors. CalViva is a three-county regional health agency serving over 400,000 people. I am knowledgeable in transportation issues by serving on the San Joaquin Valley Regional Policy Council. I have served on the Committee of County Tax Collecting Procedures at the State Controller’s office in Sacramento since 2016.
What is the biggest issue in your race and how will you solve this issue? The drought and water management in the future is a priority for the county. Groundwater management plans have been drafted and are being reviewed by the state Department of Water Resources for approval.
Once approved by the state, the plan will begin with the establishment of water usage and groundwater recharge policies for the future.
Groundwater recharge programs along with increased monitoring of water levels will establish better drought preparedness policies. The future of the district, county and valley depends on sound water management policies.
Why should voters elect you? I have experience in local government and a record of public service. I work with schools, cities and special districts as well as many community-based organizations throughout the county. My wife and I attend many community events and we enjoy serving the community as a couple.
Knowledge, experience and a record of public service have prepared me to serve District 1 on the Kings County Board of Supervisors for the next four years.
Name: Rusty Robinson
A little about yourself: My wife Theresa and I have been married for 15 years and we have one son, Patrick, who is 6 years-old. I’m a lifelong Kings County resident and a founding board member and past president of Main Street Hanford. I’ve served on the Hanford Elementary School Foundation as a founding member and board vice president.
In addition, I was honored to serve on the Kings Art Center board. I have a bachelor of science degree from the University of the Pacific in business and a minor in biological science. I began my career in 1994 (at 24 years old) managing Hanford Furniture which later became Thomasville Furniture. In 2000, I became the owner and general manager of Thomasville at River Park (now known as Robinson’s Home Furnishings). I’m truly grateful to our community for the many years of success.
Contact Information: 559-816-4646, email@example.com
Why are you running for office? I am running for office to prevent further damage to our farmers and our economy due to farm-related issues and water regulations. Further, I believe it is imperative to restore the necessary respect and support for our law enforcement in order to suppress crime in our community.
It is also essential that we maintain the longevity of our public safety officials to ensure this success. All of this must be done with a well-balanced budget that takes every hard-earned Kings County dollar into account. We are still one of the lowest income per capita counties in the state of California.
How are you different from your opponent? Experience, experience and experience! I have hired and fired employees for 28 years. I have made life-changing decisions for my employees for 28 years. I’ve worked with budgets for 28 years. I’ve made payrolls for 28 years. In short, I’ve successfully managed businesses for 28 years.
What is the biggest issue in your race and how will you solve this issue? Water, water and water … I’m sorry, did I mention water? Without water, the rest of our economy would not be necessary. Without ag-related businesses there would be no trickle-down economics and therefore, no tax basis for government jobs to derive money.
Therefore, I must (and we must) stop every unreasonable hindrance to farming and ensure the ability of our farmers to gain access to water. I believe that civil penalties which allow our underground water to be sold to Southern California (or other out-of-Valley regions) should be stiffened.
Why should voters elect you? Select me if you want to help farmers and ag-related businesses maintain jobs and our county’s economic basis. Select me if you want to assist law enforcement and public safety to maintain our peaceful quality of life in Kings County. Select me if you want to create opportunity through jobs — not hand-outs!
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a life. Select me to continue the legacy of my family to serve this wonderful community.