Taking a stab at the likely candidates for the upcoming elections

Typically, in choosing the subjects to profile in our annual “Who to watch” issue, we wait until a political candidate has won office before deeming him or her a person to watch. But we’ve made an exception this year for Kory Honea, the current Butte County undersheriff who will be running in the June primary for sheriff.

It’s not that bold of a move, considering Honea is backed by none other than Sheriff Jerry Smith, along with some additional heavy hitters, including retired Butte County CAO Paul McIntosh. So far, Honea’s the only person who’s publicly announced intentions to vie for the post. That could change in the next two months, since the candidate filing period for the primary doesn’t close until March 7 (it opens on Feb. 10). But I kind of doubt it will.

Honea is one of a handful of locals who’ve entered the 2014 political field early. My interest, however, lies mostly in the Chico City Council and Butte County Board of Supervisors races.

Three council seats will be up for grabs in the November general election. Vice Mayor Mark Sorensen is wrapping up his first term. Mayor Scott Gruendl, who’s been on the dais for nearly 12 years, said last time around that he wasn’t going to seek re-election. And Councilwoman Mary Goloff—a two-termer—has also stated that she’s done. I doubt that will change.

Sorensen hasn’t mentioned whether he’s going to seek re-election, but I suspect he will.

Other candidates? Well, Andrew Coolidge, who lost by a slim margin in the 2012 council race, is going for it again. Then, there are some likely candidates among the remaining people who lost their bids that year: Bob Evans, Kimberly Rudisill, Toby Schindelbeck, Dave Kelley, Dave Donnan and Lisa Duarte. Of those, I’m thinking only Kelley and Donnan may resurface (at least for the council race). What about Bob? Keep reading.

Michael Dailey, a former unsuccessful conservative candidate (he ran back in 2006) has been palling around with Councilman Sean Morgan lately, so I suspect he’s in.

But back to the Supes, and the much-sooner primary race. It’s going to get interesting in the next couple of months. Two seats are open on that panel. Maureen Kirk has already announced she’s going to seek re-election for her seat representing District 3. No one has officially announced running against the popular Kirk, but the rumors are swirling. That’s where Bob Evans comes in. As you’ll recall, he was appointed to the City Council in 2010, when Larry Wahl vacated his post for the District 2 supervisorial seat. But Evans didn’t get enough votes in 2012 to retain it. He may throw his hat into the ring for Kirk’s seat.

And then there’s Wahl’s district in southwest Chico, the stronghold of Jane Dolan for more than 30 years. Wahl will most certainly want to keep that post. His potential competition? Andrew Merkel, who used to run a marijuana dispensary just outside Chico city limits, is rumored to be interested in it. The real question, of course, is whether Dolan is planning a run to retake that seat. Your guess is as good as mine. But I’m leaning toward yes.