Runoffs ahead for supervisors in Riverside, San Bernardino Counties

It will take November runoffs to decide three races for county supervisor in the Inland Empire. But not so in Orange County, where an incumbent and a former supervisor won easily.

In San Bernardino County’s Third Supervisorial District race, incumbent Neil Derry gets a chance to stay in his job at least through November, but only because challenger James Ramos fell just short of winning more than 50% of the vote. They have a November runoff ahead.

Ramos won nearly 47% of the vote, not enough to avoid a runoff with Derry, who took 33%.

Derry struggled to overcome baggage from his guilty plea last year to a misdemeanor charge of hiding campaign money. He also struggled to overcome the enormous spending edge held by Ramos, the former tribal chief of the San Manuel gaming tribe.

San Bernardino County’s First Supervisorial District will also go to a November runoff. Apple Valley businessman Robert Lovingood and Apple Valley city council member Rick Roelle finished ahead of five other candidates.

Lovingood and Roelle will vie to replace Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, who left to run for Congress in the newly-drawn 8th District that sprawls across three counties. At last count, Mitzelfelt trails three other candidates.

In San Bernardino County’s Fifth Supervisorial District, incumbent Jackie Gonzales was an easy winner over two challengers.

In Riverside County, First District Supervisor Bob Buster is headed to a November runoff for the first time in 20 years. But it might take a few days to confirm his opponent. It’s likely to be termed-out Republican Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries. He leads retired California Highway Patrol lieutenant Mike Soubirous by slightly more than 400 votes will all precincts counted.

San Bernardino County’s Third District Supervisor Jeff Stone won easily over retired Border patrol agent Joe Scarafone.

Both of Orange County’s races for supervisor were runaways.

Former Orange County supervisor Todd Spitzer has returned to the board after a 10-year absence. He easily defeated Villa Park city council member Deborah Pauly by a two-to-one margin in the race for First District Supervisor.

After serving as a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office, Spitzer was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1996. He left in 2002 for the State Assembly, where he served for six years.

Pauly gained attention last year for statements attacking Muslims. The Orange County Republican Party removed her from a leadership post last month.

Incumbent Third District Supervisor Janet Nguyen defeated Steve Rocco by a wide margin. Nguyen became the first Vietnamese-American elected to the board when she won a special election in 2007.

The quirky and reclusive Rocco is a political legend in Orange County. He won a seat on the school board in Orange in 2004 despite no organized campaign and no public appearances. Rocco often showed up for school board meetings in a knit cap and sunglasses, and spent most of his time on the board ruminating about conspiracy theories.