Welcome to The Merced Sun-Star’s Voter Guide to California’s March 5 primary election. Early mail-in voting for the March 5 presidential primary election opened on Feb. 5, and voters in various parts of Merced County have much more to choose than simply who will advance to the presidential general election in November.
Three of the five seats on the Merced County Board of Supervisors are on the ballot. There’s also a Merced County Superior Court judgeship to be decided.
In Merced, voters will determine the fate of a ballot measure to extend a public-safety sales tax.
Add in races for Congress and state legislative contests, as well as contests in neighboring Madera and Fresno counties – and it makes for a full ballot for Valley voters to navigate.
We’ve compiled everything you need here to navigate the extensive ballot and help you make informed decisions, including links to election stories and profiles of candidates and measures up for consideration. We’ve also included answers to race-specific questions we asked each candidate to submit for this guide. You’ll also find links to editorial staff endorsements for select contests.
What’s on the ballot?
Here are various select contests for voters to decide, depending on where you live. Click a link for more details about the candidates in that race:
Board of Supervisors District 2: Incumbent Josh Pedrozo, challenger Annissa Fragoso.
Board of Supervisors District 1: Incumbent Rodrigo Espinosa, challengers Sonia Fernanda Alshami, Jim Pacheco and Maria Soto.
Board of Supervisors District 4: Incumbent Lloyd Pareira, challengers Dennis Brazil and Jim Soria.
Superior Court Judge: Candidates are Regina Adams, Carlos Dammeier and Monika Saini-Donabed.
CITY OF MERCED
Measure C: Renewing a half-cent sales tax in the city of Merced to pay for public safety and essential city services.
Board of Supervisors District 3: Incumbent Robert Poythress, challenger Cecelia Gallegos.
Board of Supervisors District 2: Incumbent Steve Brandau, challengers Garry Bredefeld, Dion Bourdase, Paul Dictos and Bryce Herrera.
Board of Supervisors District 3: Incumbent Sal Quintero, challengers Miguel Arias, Luis Chavez, EJ Hinojosa.
Board of Supervisors District 5: Incumbent Nathan Magsig, challenger Jennifer Cruz.
Measure A: Keeping elections for county sheriff and district attorney in non-presidential election years.
Measure B: Providing the county board of supervisors the authority to name or change names of geographic features and communities in unincorporated areas of Fresno County.
CITY OF FRESNO
Fresno Mayor: Incumbent Jerry Dyer, challengers James Barr and Samantha Dussell.
Fresno City Council District 2: Incumbent Mike Karbassi, challenger Matthew Gillian.
Fresno City Council District 4: Incumbent Tyler Maxwell, unopposed.
CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY
Assembly District 8: Candidates are educator Caleb Helsel, a Democrat; Republicans George Radanovich and David Tangipa; and Michael Matheson, no party preference. (Also: See The Bee’s Editorial Board recommendation)
Assembly District 27: Incumbent Esmeralda Soria, D-Fresno, Republican challenger Joana Garcia Rose.
Assembly District 31: Incumbent Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno; Republican challenger Solomon Verduzco.
Assembly District 33: Candidates are Democrats Ruben Macareno and Angel Ruiz; Republicans Xavier Avila and Alexandra Macedo.
House of Representatives District 5: Incumbent Repubican Tom McClintock; challengers Democrat Mike Barkley, and Steve Wozaniak, no party preference.
House of Representatives District 20: Candidates are Democrats Andy Morales and Marisa Wood; Republicans Mike Boudreaux, Stan Ellis, Vince Fong, David Giglio, Kyle Kirkland, Kelly Kulikoff and Matthew Stoll; and Ben Dewell and T.J. Esposito, both no party preference. (Also: See The Bee’s Editorial Board recommendation)
House of Representatives District 21: Incumbent Democrat Jim Costa; Republican challenger Michael Maher.
House of Representatives District 22: Incumbent Republican David Valadao; challengers Chris Mathys, a Repubican, and Democrats Melissa Hurtado and Rudy Salas.
HOW TO VOTE
WHERE’S MY BALLOT? You’ve probably read or heard about certain other states where voting can sometimes be a challenge. California offers several options for casting your ballot. On Feb. 5, county elections officials began mailing vote-by-mail ballots to all active voters. If you mail it back, it must be postmarked no later than Election Day (Tuesday, March 5) and received by March 12. You can also take it to a secure ballot drop box, a voting location or your county voting office any time before 8 p.m. March 5. You can find the nearest one here.
NEED TO REGISTER? If you are not yet registered to vote, and you’re 18 or older on Election Day, you have until Feb. 20 to register by mail or online. After that, you have until the polls close on March 5 to conditionally register and vote at your county election office or vote center. Once officials verify your eligibility, your vote is counted.
WHERE DO I VOTE? Every registered voter will receive a ballot in the mail. Voters have several options to cast their ballot: returning their ballot by mail in the envelope that’s provided; voting in person at one of 13 Merced County voting centers that will be open starting Feb. 24 or March 2; or dropping their completed ballot, sealed in the provided envelope, at a vote center or at one of 19 ballot drop-off boxes across Merced County.
You can explore interactive maps of vote centers and ballot drop-off boxes in Merced County below.