LANCASTER – High Desert residents preparing to vote in the March 17 Special Primary Election are not faced with many (or any) choices on the ballot.
Though Sharon Runner is listed as the only 21st State Senate District candidate on the ballot, six other write-in candidates are hoping voters will look beyond her name.
Anticipating write-in campaigns is the reason the state mandates that the election continues – even at the cost of about $1.4 million to Los Angeles County taxpayers, according to the Registrar-Recorder County Clerk’s office.
Runner needs to win more than 50 percent of the vote in the March 17 primary election to be elected. Should she fail to receive a majority of the votes, a runoff election for the 21st State Senate seat will be scheduled for May 19.
The seat was vacated by Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) after he defeated Tony Strickland last November to represent California’s 25th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, and candidates for the special primary are seeking to serve the remaining two years of Knight’s four-year term.
The 21st State Senate District includes the Antelope Valley, most of the Santa Clarita Valley, as well as the Victor Valley from Victorville to Phelan-Pinion Hills.
Write-in candidates who are challenging Runner include Democrats Joshua Conaway of Apple Valley, Steve Hill of Palmdale, and Richard Macias of Lancaster, as well as Republican Jerry Laws of Victorville, and none-party candidates Joshua Chandler of Quartz Hill, and Jason Zink of Palmdale.
Self-proclaimed “atheist comedian” Steve Hill, who is also an appraiser for Anaverde Appraisal in Palmdale, said in a press statement that he’s decided to run as a write-in candidate because voters should be able to choose among a pool of qualified candidates to represent them.
“In America we don’t have coronations, we have elections that require a vigorous debate on the issues,” Hill stated. “It’s why I’ve decided to run a write-in campaign for state senate.”
Coming from a strong middle class background, Hill says he will work to restore and strengthen the local job market while improving local educational opportunities.
“The backbone of a strong middle-class is America’s labor unions,” Hill states on his campaign site at www.hill2015.com. “Fighting for job security, higher wages, retirement and healthcare benefits, I will work every day to strengthen labor unions, while keeping them accountable to their members.”
Apple Valley resident Joshua Conaway agrees with other write-ins that Californians deserve a better choice “than an unopposed Sharon Runner.”
Conaway stated in a release that High Desert constituents need a leader who can push California forward, claiming that “Runner and what she represents is not the job growth future Californians need.”
He lists his qualifications for the seat as having served as an elected clerk of the California Delegation to the Election College in 1996, while also serving the Democratic Party as a candidate treasurer and convention volunteer.
Jason Zink of Palmdale, who lists his experience and occupation as “consultant,” told The AV Times that he would not take a senate salary if elected; he would donate his pay to support scholarships and community groups in the 21st District.
Zink said he would propose the formation of three new counties in California – Antelope Valley, Victor Valley and Santa Clarita counties. He said he would also work toward a commuter job incentive bill to “get the 100,000 commuters off the freeway and into a local job so they can spend more time with their family.” In addition, Zink said he would “fix the seven deadliest highways in the state,” while also placing LED-lighted wrong-way signs at every off-ramp in the state.
Life-long Antelope Valley resident Joshua Chandler of Quartz Hill is president and chief technology officer of Causecast, which creates technology to connect companies and their employees with the causes they care about.
According to his campaign website at www.joshuacodychandler.com, Chandler says he will represent the best interests of his community and children because “I don’t have an agenda, and any junior senator that does will not be taken seriously.”
Another write-in candidate is Richard Macias of Lancaster, who worked 25 years with the California Department of Corrections as a correctional officer and now serves as a substitute instructor at the California State Penitentiary in Los Angeles County.
Self-proclaimed “constitutional conservative libertarian” Jerry Laws of Victorville is a former truck driver who finished eighth out of 10 candidates in June 2014’s statewide primary for the 33rd Assembly District.
All the write-in candidates hope to step out of the shadow of Republican educator and business owner Sharon Runner. Runner is a former state senator who represented the 17th Senate District from 2011 to 2012.
Runner, the wife of California State Board of Equalization Member George Runner, also served as a member of the California State Assembly from 2002 to 2008, representing the 36th District that includes the Antelope Valley and the general area of the Mojave Desert – now represented by Republican Tom Lackey of Palmdale.
In a press statement on how she differs from Sacramento politicians, Runner said she “intends to bring commonsense leadership and transparent governance to represent hard-working families of the district.” Read more at sharonrunner.com.
The certified list of write-in candidates may be viewed on the Secretary of State’s website at http://elections.cdn.sos.ca.gov/special-elections/2015-sd21/certified-list-writein.pdf.
For more information on the March 17, 2015, Senate District 21 Special Primary Election, visit www.lavote.net.