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District 2 Only Contested County Supervisor Seat For March Primary

IMPERIAL VALLEY — Although three county supervisors’ seats are up for election in the March primary, it appears as though only Luis Plancarte’s District 2 seat will be challenged, and no, that challenger will not be Ralph Cordova Jr.

For some time, rumors have abounded the former Imperial County counsel and chief executive officer Cordova would take on the single-term incumbent Plancarte. Even though Cordova said he pulled the paperwork to gather signatures in lieu of paying a filing fee, the attorney explained Dec. 1 that he would not be on the March 3 primary ballot.

With two children in college, a thriving private practice with “too much work” and other commitments that would take away from him being a full-time county supervisor, Cordova said, “I can’t do it … It’s not the right time to run.”

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Cordova left the county as CEO in August 2017 after nearly a decade in the position, reportedly being paid a $580,000 settlement by the board.

Cordova said, “I left under my own terms and conditions” but did not elaborate on his reasons.

County officials did not provide a copy of Cordova’s settlement agreement by deadline Dec. 3. County Public Information Officer Linsey Dale had said the agreement would be provided by the end of the day Dec. 2.

County Supervisors Ryan Kelley, District 4, and Michael Kelley, District 3, are both running for re-election but were unopposed as of Dec. 3, county election records show. No other candidates had pulled any of the required paperwork.

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With the filing period set to close Dec. 6, it appears as though retired county Department of Social Services program manager Claudia Marie Camarena will be the lone challenger for District 2, which is made up of a large portion of El Centro, parts of west Calexico and the unincorporated communities of Heber, Ocotillo, No Mirage, Coyote Wells, Yuha Basin and Painted Gorge.

Although it’s a primary contest, if there are just two candidates the top vote getter will win the seat.

County Board Candidates Speak

Plancarte, who is due to be chairman of the board next year, said during an interview Nov. 27 he is running again for the sake of “continuity,” saying his first term focused on infrastructure improvements to the county, such as roads, economic development and job creation.

He said four years isn’t enough time to see everything done that he set out to do, adding the county made strides but “it takes a lot of work, relationship-building, and consistency.”

He added, “First time I ran on a platform of what I would do to try to move forward, not what was not being done or not being taken care of. Again, I will run a campaign on what I can deliver.”

Meanwhile, Camarena, who finished about 300 votes behind Plancarte in the June 2016 primary but did not advance to the runoff that year, said she is ready to commit to be a supervisor full-time following her retirement from the county this year.

Camarena said Nov. 29 she is running on a “pro-employee” platform and that she wants to revamp the county worker-complaint process. She said she will donate half to three-quarters of her annual board salary to nonprofit agencies.

Citing the ongoing financial issues of the county, Camarena said the county has too many high-paying positions that are unnecessary, including the new public information officer position, the intergovernmental relations position and a number of deputy CEO posts.

Michael Kelley said his decision to seek what will be his fourth consecutive term should get him close to seeing longtime issues resolved such as addressing the damaged Salton Sea and spurring local economic development.

“This valley’s not small anymore, and we’re not back woods. We’re medium-sized now and we need to embrace that,”

Ryan Kelley

“I have a deep-rooted passion and love for Imperial County,” Michael Kelley said. “I have a lot of knowledge and skills developed over the years to contribute.”

Chairman Ryan Kelley, who will be gliding into his third term on the board, also ran uncontested in 2016.

“This valley’s not small anymore, and we’re not back woods. We’re medium-sized now and we need to embrace that,” Ryan Kelley said.

He added the county needs to use that to its advantage and “that’s why I want to run again.”

Other County Races

Four Imperial County Superior Court judgeships are up for re-election and, as of Dec. 3, the currently seated judges have filed their re-election papers and are running unopposed, according to election officials.

Those judges are Marco Nuñez, William Derek Quan, William D. Lehman and Eran Marie Bermudez.

U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas, D-Chula Vista, is running for re-election to Congress’ 51st District in the open primary. On the Republican side is self-described “Donald J. Trump Republican” Alejandro Rodriguez, who was raised in Brawley and Westmorland.

No other candidates are listed for the 51st District on the county’s election department website.

With Democratic Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia reaching his term limit, the only name appearing on the county’s election page for the 56th Assembly District, which is made up of Imperial and Coachella valleys, is America L. Figueroa, a Republican from Coachella Valley.


This story is featured in the Dec 05, 2019 e-Edition.