The field of candidates running for local, state and federal offices representing Ventura County got a little more crowded Friday as political hopefuls scrambled to meet the deadline for filing nomination papers.
More than 40 candidates filed papers for 11 different offices, including everything from county clerk to two congressional seats, officials said.
Nine candidates filed papers to run for two open seats on the Board of Supervisors, virtually guaranteeing a November runoff in both races, said Bruce Bradley, the county's chief elections official.
"You're not looking at one election; you're looking at two if you want to go all the way," Bradley said.
It's possible the number of supervisorial candidates could grow even more. Because Supervisors Maria VanderKolk and Vicky Howard are not seeking reelection, the deadline for candidates to file for the two seats has been extended until Wednesday.
At least three officeholders--Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury, Sheriff Larry Carpenter and Tax Collector Hal Pittman--won't have to worry about campaigning this year. All three are unchallenged.
"It's nice not to have that distraction," Bradbury said. "But I don't take my job for granted. I love what I do."
In other local races, two candidates have filed papers to run for tax assessor, while two others will run for county clerk. And five people will compete in what is shaping up to be a hotly contested race for county auditor-controller, whose job is to oversee the county's $836-million budget.
The crowded field of candidates could also force a November runoff in the controller's race, county officials said.
Assistant Dist. Atty. Colleen Toy White and defense attorney James Farley will go head to head for an open seat on the Superior Court bench. Judge Edwin M. Osborne has retired and his seat will remain vacant until after the November election.
The difficulty of raising money in a tough economy may have discouraged potential legislative and congressional candidates from competing in the June 7 primary, Bradley said, noting that several candidates are unchallenged.
"It's going to be a fairly quiet primary," he said. "There was a lot of talking early on (by potential candidates), but when it comes to putting your money down that's another thing . . . I think people are finding out that it costs too much to run for office."
In the 23rd Congressional District, Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) is unchallenged in the Republican primary.
On the Democratic side, Frank Stephenson, a college placement consultant from Ojai, and Kevin E. Ready, a Ventura resident and attorney for Santa Barbara County, will compete for their party's nomination.
Although Democrats cannot match Gallegly's name recognition or financial backing, Ready said they still hold an advantage.
"With an 8,000-vote margin of Democrats over Republicans in the district, it is the large independent vote that can ensure a Democratic victory," he said.
William Brown of Camarillo has filed papers to run as a Libertarian, and Robert Thomas Marton of Simi Valley will run as a Green Party candidate in the congressional race.
Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Woodland Hills), whose 24th Congressional District includes Thousand Oaks and parts of western Los Angeles County, will face Scott Gauke, a resident of Sherman Oaks, in the Democratic primary in June.
Five candidates are competing for the Republican nomination. They are Mark Boos Benhard, an Agoura public relations consultant and one-time assistant to former Rep. William K. Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton); Robert Kent Hammer, a Newbury Park banking consultant; Emery Shane, a commercial real estate investment broker from Oak Park; Richard Sybert of Woodland Hills, an attorney and former top aide to Gov. Pete Wilson, and Sang Korman, a Calabasas resident who has run unsuccessfully for Congress three times.
All the candidates agree that the economy will be the No. 1 issue, noting that the district has been among the hardest hit by the recession. Shane said he decided to enter the race this week at the urging of business leaders throughout the district.
"We've lost a lot of jobs" during the past few years, he said. "What I've been doing for the last decade is bringing jobs into the Conejo and San Fernando valleys. So I think I can help make contributions to businesses both small and large."
Assemblyman Jack O'Connell (D-Carpinteria) has no challengers for the Democratic nomination in the race to fill the seat being vacated by retiring state Sen. Gary K. Hart (D-Santa Barbara). Hart's district includes Ventura, Santa Paula, Ojai and all of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
The two candidates competing for the Republican nomination are Steve Decker, a Santa Barbara real estate investor, and Steve MacElvaine, a cattle rancher and former San Luis Obispo County supervisor.
Decker said the need for more jobs, less crime and improved education will be the primary issues in the campaign.