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Don’t sleep on June primary

Just when we were finally getting over our post traumatic stress from the 2016 election, we find ourselves in the midst of another important election season. The November mid-term election will have key implications nationally and locally, while the June primary, a little more than two months away, offers a host of local races together with a transportation ballot measure of importance to Petalumans.

Petaluma voters who vote by mail will receive their mail-in ballots in a little more than a month, and the campaigns for several countywide races are starting to heat up.

At the top of the ticket is the Sonoma County Sheriff’s seat, which this year features the first competitive race in a quarter century.

With no incumbent, it is shaping up as a three-man race with Sheriff’s Capt. Mark Essick, Santa Rosa City Councilman and retired Santa Rosa Police Lt. Ernesto Olivares and retired Los Angeles Police Capt. John Mutz all in the race.

All three have extensive leadership experience with large law enforcement agencies. Essick, who is backed by current Sheriff Rob Giordano, represents the establishment choice while Mutz is an outsider who has support from some of the activist groups that formed in the wake of the tragic shooting death of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a sheriff’s deputy who mistook the toy gun he was carrying for a real firearm. Olivares is the only candidate who has served as an elected official.

District Attorney Jill Ravitch, in her reelection bid, faces no opposition after criminal defense attorney Scott Murray of Santa Rosa, her only challenger, dropped out of the race.

Three candidates are vying to become Sonoma County’s next clerk-recorder-assessor and elections chief. Ray Leonard, the department’s longtime administrative services officer, will face two other internal candidates: Deva Marie Proto, the chief deputy clerk-recorder, as well as Rod Marusic, an assessment process specialist.

There won’t be a race for Sonoma County’s second district supervisorial seat this year as no one stepped forward to challenge Supervisor David Rabbitt, allowing him a third four-year term beginning in January.

The State Assemblyman and Congressman representing Petaluma both face challengers this June. Assemblyman Marc Levine, a Marin County Democrat, faces another Democrat from Marin, Dan Monte, a retired general contractor and paratransit bus driver. Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, will again face Republican Dale Mensing of Redway, a grocery store clerk who ran for the seat in 2014 and 2016. Both races will be repeated in November due to state election laws requiring that the two highest vote getters in the primary face-off in the general election.

The only ballot measure Petaluma voters will see this June is Regional Measure 3, which would raise tolls on Bay Area bridges, except for the Golden Gate bridge, by up to $3. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission says the measure would raise $4.5 billion for regional transportation projects, including $120 million to widen Highway 101 from the Sonoma-Marin county line to Novato, $100 million for Highway 37 improvements and $40 million to extend SMART to Windsor and Healdsburg.

The election is June 5, after which starts the countdown to the November election which will feature Petaluma City Council and mayoral races, school board contests and several state and local ballot measures.

Through upcoming news stories, the Argus-Courier will keep you well informed on all these races as election day nears.