Eddie Valero, currently the Chair of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, is facing three challengers in the June 7 Primary.
The top two will advance to the general election November 8.
Two of the five districts are up for re-election but only Valero, who represents District 4, is being challenged. District 5 is represented by Dennis Townsend, who does not have a challenger and will not be on the ballot.
Valero was elected in 2018 in an upset victory over Dinuba Vice-Mayor Kuldip Thusu; Thusu was favored to win at the time.
Valero is proud of the fact he has maintained such a close relationship with his constituents, including holding ten town halls in his district.
Among some of his accomplishments are providing clean drinking water to Yettem and Seville, initiating the Young Leaders Academy for high school students to learn about local government, aiding in the completion of the Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District Sports Complex, helping to promote vaccine clinics throughout District 4, and promoting major developments in Goshen including a Burger King, Starbucks and a new gas station.
His challengers, all hailing from Dinuba, are Scott Harness, business owner and former Mayor of Dinuba; Kelly Culver, a teacher; and Melvin Gong, United States Air Force retiree and businessperson.
Harness: Experience will let him do better
Harness said he was running because he feels he could do a better job of representing the farmers, residents and business owners of the district than Valero
“I am running because my strong history as an elected official brings improved leadership and service to the District 4 seat. I feel it is our job as elected officials to not just be reactive but to lead and prepare our county for the next 5, 10 and 20 years ahead, My years of experience in the public and private sector gives me that experience needed to do a better job,” said Harness.
Culver: Free Tulare County from “unjust mandates,” protect medical freedom
Culver said she didn’t really pay attention to politics until the pandemic. But the shutdown was a wakeup call for her.
“I’m running for Tulare County Board of Supervisor to protect our freedom. I support medical freedom. Wearing a mask or getting a shot should be your personal choice, not the governments,” said Culver.
“My goal is to make Tulare County a constitutional county that is free from unjust mandates. I’m the daughter of a small farmer so I’m aware of the needs of farmers and protecting our water. As a teacher for 25 years I’ve seen the struggles my student’s families have faced. I want to improve Tulare County.”
Gong: I can do better
Business owner Melvin Gong felt he should have run four years ago. By the time he realized that former TCBOS Steve Worthley was not running in 2018 it was too late to file. Gong served on the Tulare County Planning Commission for 12 years and one of his fellow commissioners asked him why he didn’t run for supervisor.
“I don’t have a problem with Eddie, I just think I could do a better job,” said Gong.
Gong’s business was affected by the pandemic and he felt that Fresno County was more helpful in getting loans and assistance to small businesses. He felt Tulare County could have helped their constituents more effectively.
He also mentioned his father ran for supervisor in the 1960s — and lost to Harness’ dad. Gong said with a chuckle that wasn’t the reason why he was running this round though.
District 4 comprises of the cities of Woodlake and Dinuba and the communities of Lemon Cove, Cutler-Orosi, Ivanhoe, Three Rivers, Goshen and Seville.
The League of Women Voters of Tulare County along with their partners is conducting a candidates’ forum for District 4 on May 3 at the Woodlake Memorial Building from 6:00 – 7:30.
Candidates will be answering audience questions and the furm will be live streamed by the Dolores Huerta Foundation. The stream will be posted on their Facebook and on Valley Voice’s Facebook page and website.