2024 MARCH 5 DISTRICT ELECTION OVERVIEW
Your 2024 Morongo Basin Voter Guide to local candidates
Correction February 18: The original article stated that Blanca Gomez was running for State Senate in District 19 — that is incorrrect, she is running in District 23. We have made that correction and added the names of the other District 23 candidates.
2020 was a contentious year socially, and consequently, politically, as voters, reeling from the fallback of the COVID-19 pandemic, aired their grievances at the ballot box in November 2020. Now, four years later, voters will once again have the opportunity for their voice to be heard. The California primary will be held on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, and the presidential election will take place on November 5, 2024. Local voters will have the chance to vote for a number of offices ranging from U.S. president to local City Council candidates to California State Congress. Here is a breakdown of candidates you can expect on your ballot this upcoming election cycle:
State Assembly Districts 34 and 47:
California Assembly terms are two years, and there are 80 State Assembly seats in total. Assembly districts 34 and 47 cover the Morongo Basin. Assembly District 34 encompasses portions of the Mojave Desert in Kern, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino Counties. Communities within AD34 include Landers, Twentynine Palms, Amboy, Barstow, Apple Valley, Helendale, and Lancaster.
In AD34 Tom Lackey, incumbent candidate, will be running for re-election under the Republican ticket against Democratic candidate Ricardo Ortega of Lancaster, who is currently endorsed by the San Bernardino County Young Democrats.
In AD47, Republican incumbent Greg Wallis will be running against Democratic candidate, attorney, and former mayor of Palm Springs Christy Holstege. Holstege previously lost to Wallis for the same seat in 2022 by a mere 85 votes. District 47 is comprised of Yucaipa, Banning, Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Yucca Valley, and Desert Hot Springs.
State Senate Districts 19 and 23:
California State District 19 is a new State Senate district drawn in 2021 based on the 2020 Census. The district spans most of San Bernardino County, sections of the Coachella Valley, and northern portions of Riverside County. State Senate seats entail a four-year term with 40 representatives. According to Ballotpedia, “the terms of the senators are staggered so that half the membership is elected every two years.”
There are five candidates running for State Senate District 23: Democratic candidates Blanca Gomez, Kipp Mueller and Ollie McCaulley and Republicans James Hamburger and Suzette Valladares.
U.S. Congress District 23:
California’s 23rd U.S. Congressional District will be contested between Republican Congressman Jay Obernolte and Democratic candidate Derek Marshall. Obernolte previously won against Marshall in 2022. The 23rd congressional district encompasses Victorville, Yucca Valley, Twentynine Palms, Yucaipa, and Loma Linda. Members of the U.S. House of Representatives work among each other to pass legislation up to the U.S. Senate that is then signed into law by the president of the United States. There are currently 435 representatives in the House and 100 in the Senate for a total of 535 members of Congress.
San Bernardino County Supervisor District 3:
San Bernardino County has a total of five county supervisor districts with the Morongo Basin encompassing District 3. Each district is represented by a member of the Board of Supervisors. The role of county supervisors is to oversee various county departments, pass budgets, and implement policy at the countywide level. San Bernardino County is the largest county, geographically, in the contiguous United States.
The County Board of Supervisors oversees departments such as the San Bernardino County Sheriffs, San Bernardino County Fire, and serves as the voting entity for the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District. County Supervisors are usually appointed to serve on various boards throughout the county that impact the public directly, such as the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority, formerly known as SANBAG. County Supervisors serve a four-year term and are currently limited to a three-term, or 12 year, limit. Three candidates have thrown their name in the hat for County Supervisor District 3: Chris Carrillo, Graham Smith and Incumbent Dawn Rowe.
Christopher Carrillo, Democratic candidate from Highland, CA, has secured endorsements from former 3rd District County Supervisor and current Assemblyman James Ramos along with all major local fire unions. Carrillo, an attorney, served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Ramos, whom Dawn Rowe replaced on the County Board of Supervisors back in 2018 following Ramos’s election to the 40th Assembly District. Carrillo also served as a senior staffer for Senator Diane Feinstein.
Former Yucca Valley Town Councilwoman and Republican Incumbent Dawn Rowe was controversially appointed to the San Bernardino County Supervisor District 3 seat in 2018. In 2020, she won an official four-year term. This election cycle, Rowe has managed to reach across the aisle and secure the endorsements of Democrats, including Democratic councilwoman Denise Davis of Redlands.
Graham Smith of the unincorporated community of Skyforest, CA, is the second Democratic challenger running against Dawn Rowe. Smith, who moved out of the finance sector to pursue small business, has a campaign platform encouraging advocacy among unincorporated communities that are often overshadowed at the County level. According to his campaign website, Smith wishes for local tax dollars from short-term rental and vacation home rental funding to remain within those communities and emphasizes the need for San Bernardino County to maintain proper disaster preparedness, shedding a particular light on the winter storms of March 2023 that left thousands of unincorporated San Bernardino County residents without power and proper road-clearing services for days.
Voting for the 3rd District County Supervisor seat will take place March 5. One candidate must receive 50% of the vote plus 1 to avoid a runoff between the top two candidates in November.
Yucca Valley Town Council:
At the local level, the Town of Yucca Valley will see districts 2 and 4 on the ballot in 2024 and, according to City Clerk Lesley Copeland, no run-off elections are expected this year, meaning the main Town Council election will take place in November. Those wishing to run for the Yucca Valley Town Council can pull papers at city hall in mid-July 2024 and will be required to collect 20 valid signatures from registered voters within their district. Candidates must be over the age of 18 and a residents of the district they are vying for. District 2 is currently represented by Merl Abel and District 4 is represented by Dr. Robert Lombardo. So far, no candidates have made the formal announcement to run for Town Council.
Twentynine Palms City Council:
The City of Twentynine Palms has two council seats up for reelection in 2024. District 1, currently represented by Mayor Steven Bilderain, and District 2, represented by Joel Klink, will be on the ballot this November. A number of names have been circulating in the community as potential candidates for Districts 1 and 2. Keep your eyes on the Desert Trumpet for further news on candidate information. Those who are unsure of which Twentynine Palms City Council district they reside in can find it here.
Yucca Valley is currently represented by State Senator Shannon Grove. And yes, it’s confusing. Per Ballotpedia “As of February 2023, two sets of overlapping California State Senate maps are in effect because the state's adopted redistricting plan takes effect in two phases. Even-numbered districts use boundaries from the post-2020 census map, while odd-numbered districts use boundaries adopted after the 2010 census. As a result, an area may be represented by two Senators, or may not be represented by any Senator, during the 2023-24 legislative session. The state Senate map enacted after the 2020 census will fully take effect after the 2024 elections.”
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