November ballot almost set

cpride@losbanosenterprise.comAugust 7, 2014 

Candidates have been scrambling to sign up to run for office this week in advance of today’s filing deadline.

A former mayor may square-off against the city’s current leader. Mike Amabile, who was mayor of Los Banos from 1994 until 2006, pulled papers Thursday to try and regain the office. Mayor Mike Villalta filed papers to run for re-election July 18.

Aspiring politicians and those running for re-election have until 5 p.m. today to file. If an incumbent fails to seek re-election, the deadline for filing is extended to Wednesday.

The City Council race may have four people vying for two slots. Councilmen Tom Faria and Scott Silveira filed on July 28 and July 23, respectively. Retired San Jose fire captain and Community Advocacy Coalition member Ray Martinez pulled papers on Wednesday. Federal worker Refugio Morales Llamas pulled papers on Tuesday.

The terms of Los Banos Unified School District Board Trustees Dennis Areias, District 1; Andree Soares, District 3; Chase Hurley, District 5; and John Mueller, District 7, will expire this year.

Areias and Hurley had not filed as of Thursday morning. Soares filed for re-election Tuesday and will have at least one challenger, Registered Nurse Marlene Smith, who filed Aug. 1. Mueller filed Tuesday and will face off against retired teacher Ruben Santos, who filed Aug. 1

Also Retired teacher and former teacher’s union representative Anthony Parreira, who filed July 18, so far is the only District 5 candidate.

By-district elections began in 2012 for the school district, and are under consideration for the City Council.

On Wednesday, the City Council voted to ask Los Banos citizens to switch from at-large to by-district elections. City officials set aside about $80,000 to place the issue on the November ballot.

The city has come under fire in recent weeks from the Community Advocacy Coalition, which believes that the current at-large voting method is a violation of the 2001 California Voting Rights Act. Los Banos has been unable to produce Hispanic elected officials despite Hispanics being 68 percent of the city’s population. Los Banos has until 5 p.m. today to submit the ballot measure.

The City Council will ask voters to approve draft Plan 3 out of the four districting maps offered for public consideration for the switch. As a general-law city, the issue must be put before voters.

If voters approve, by-district elections will go into effect in 2016.

Election Day is Nov. 4.

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