Voters have more than one choice in Assembly District 32

Vince Fong

Although only Vince Fong appears on the ballot for Assembly District 32, voters have four other write-in choices as well.

After Fong pulled out of the assembly race to run for Congressional District 20, four people collected the necessary signatures and filed paperwork with the California Secretary of State. Candidates had between January 8 and February 20 to submit their nomination papers.

In the order they appear on the California Secretary of State’s list, they are:

  • David Duane Wood, Democratic
  • Ian David Smith, Republican
  • Ken Weir, Republican
  • Thomas Joseph Willis, Republican.

On the ballot, right under Fong’s name will be a box that says “Write-in/Por excrito.”

Voters need to fill in the bubble and write the name of the candidate they want to win. If the voter does not put the name of a qualified candidate, their vote will not count.

The top two candidates, whether it is a write-in or Fong, will move on to the general election in November.

Who to vote for?

Of the four write-in candidates, Wood pointed out that he was the only Democrat.

“Even a second-place finish on our primary ballot earns a formal candidate choice on the November General Election Ballot,” Wood said.

Wood submitted a statement of his experience in an email.

“I am a retired Clinical Psychologist with local, regional, and state-level leadership experience including the CA Association of Local Behavioral Health Boards and Commissions and the CA Senior Legislature (CSL). I have been sworn in at our capital as a Senior Senator, chaired the CSL Senate Health Committee, and co-authored draft legislation which almost became CA state law.

“My career in community mental health has included directing clinics, forensic service to Fresno, Kings, and Tulare Counties, screening candidates for and supporting law enforcement, and fifteen years consulting to the US Navy at NAS Lemoore. My earlier training included three years serving veterans at the Salt Lake VA Medical Center. I completed a two-year Fellowship in Behavioral Pediatrics at inner-city Baltimore. I have modest Spanish language skills.”

The Bakersfield Californian reported that candidate Smith was a small-business owner and self-described “disciple of Jesus.”

Smith, who has never held elected office, told the Californian that he was running because he must “stand firm in the face of evil” and reject the “so-called progressive ideology that is devouring California.”

On Smith’s campaign website he states, “The Campaign for Life statement is meant to share a more encompassing view of what it means to be Pro Life.  I believe mental health reform that honestly confronts homelessness and school choice are critical pieces of that Pro Life equation.  Christian Faith, Biblical Principals & Conservative Values is what informs these views.”

Weir, a current member of the Bakersfield City Council, was one of the first to file candidacy papers. He’s also the current chair of the Kern County Republican Party.

In his press release he states, “I am honored to have the endorsement of State Senator Shannon Grove, Assemblyman Fong, and former Congressman Kevin McCarthy. Like the voters in Kern County, they are well aware of my work over the years as an elected trustee of the Bakersfield City School District and as a member of the Bakersfield City Council.  My business career has been as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and I have worked in my own firm for 20 years.   I have also been Chair of the Kern County Republican Party for the past 8 years and am proud of the work the party along with the voters have achieved electing Republicans to virtually a majority of public offices.”

Willis is currently a veterinarian at San Joaquin Veterinary Hospital, and described himself to the Californian as a “Maximum Freedom” Republican.

“Willis wants to see a repeal of Assembly Bill 109, which relegates punishment of low-level felony offenders to local jail or out-of-custody supervision instead of state prison, saying that ‘actions have consequences.’ His other priorities revolve around the ‘mismanagement of taxpayer dollars’ and water capture infrastructure,” the Californian article states.


What if Fong wins both the Assembly and Congressional races?

Voter confusion, and lack of name recognition for the write-in candidates, will most likely result in Fong receiving the most votes for assembly. The write-in candidate that gets the second most votes will also proceed to the General Election in November along with Fong.

According to Ryan Gardner, Fong’s campaign manager, even after the March 5 primary Fong will still not be able to take his name off the November ballot for assembly. But Gardner is hoping there will be a wider understanding by then that Fong is not running for the assembly seat.

“We are predicting that by the general election in November, Vince will already be a sitting member of Congress,” said Gardner.

Gardner is referring to the May 21 special election to fill the remainder of Congress member Kevin McCarthy’s seat that ends January 3, 2025.

Gardner wanted to remind voters to vote in both elections: the March 5 primary and the March 19 special election primary. If no one wins outright in the March 19 election, the run-off will be held on May 21. Fong is favored to win the special election and the regular election for CD20.

Gardner said that if Fong wins both the CD20 race and the assembly race, there will be a special election in 2025 for the empty assembly seat.

California Secretary of State Shirley Weber initially took Fong’s name off the ballot for CD20 because she said it was against the election code to be on the ballot twice — and he listed as a candidate first for assembly.

Fong appealed Weber’s decision and won.

Weber appealed to the Sacrament Superior Court to take Fong’s name off the ballot and the decision is due April 12. If Weber wins the appeal she would take Fong’s name off the November General Election ballot for CD20.

Gardner said that if Weber were successful in her quest to take Fong off the ballot, it would “in essence mean thousands of votes would be thrown out.”

“It’s an absurd request,” he said.

Gardner declined to answer whether Fong would take his assembly seat if he lost the congressional race — adding that he expected Weir to win the assembly seat.

“It’s not fair to the voters to speculate on that,” he said.

2 thoughts on “Voters have more than one choice in Assembly District 32

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  1. I don’t think it’s ethical for an individual to submit the application to run for a political position, then at the last minute submit another application for a different position when it’s to late to remove their name from the first position. That is what will cause confusion and unfairness to the voters whose vote may not be counted, not an official whose role is to keep everyone accountable. Nice try Mr. Gardner.

  2. Are you tired of watching the faith, principles, & values of the 32nd district erode and slip away? Help me stand in that gap, & fight back against the so called “progressive” woke agenda. I would be honored to receive your write-in vote. Now go vote and God Bless! 🇺🇸

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