For a few days after the June 3rd primary, Tulare County Supervisor Mike Ennis managed to fend off three District 5 challengers and stay just above the required 50% plus one vote to avoid a runoff. But after the final count tallied last Friday, June 13th, Ennis came up short by only 21 votes.
Porterville City Council Member Virginia Gurrola came in second with 23% of the vote, and is gearing up for a new race. “The way I see it, more than 50% of the voters want a change,” she said, “so let’s give them a change.” Gurrola and Ennis will face each other in the November 4th general election.
Greg Shelton came in third with 15.29%, followed by Felipe Martinez with 11.75%. Both are former Porterville City Council members.
Even before the primary, Gurrola and her election committee were strategizing about her campaign should she make it to November. When asked what she had planned, Gurrola said we would have to wait and see.
She did admit, “We have to get more voters out.” Part of any campaign is to do a voter registration drive, which Gurrola does plan to conduct.
One of her first priorities, if elected, would be to form a District 5 advisory committee. At present, the biggest issue is the drought, but an advisory committee could also be used to address employment, tourism or education.
Gurrola said that right now we need to reach out to the unincorporated areas where wells are drying up and see if residents there can get loans or state grants to help. The advisory committee could look at different directions the county could take, or pursue other avenues such as finding new companies to drill wells, or connecting residents to city systems.
Gurrola could then take the advisory committees ideas and bring them back to the board of supervisors for discussion. “We are out in the South Valley and we have different needs,” she said.
An important aspect of being on the board of supervisors is accessibility. “As an elected official, I serve the public and I need to be accessible to them.”
As many in the media or those who live in District 5 know, it can be difficult to get Supervisor Ennis to return phone calls or attend a town hall meeting. Gurrola plans on meeting regularly with her constituency and maintaining an open-door policy. A key attribute of her tenure on the board of supervisors will be “engagement.”