Open season primary

Seven candidates are vying for one of Sacramento’s most influential political offices—and you probably have no idea who they are

This story has been expanded from its print version.

After serving four terms on the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, Susan Peters is hoping to hand the reins over to another pro-business, pro-law enforcement conservative when she leaves office in 15 months. The choice that voters make this March could swing or stalemate a moderate five-member board with a $4.4 billion budget on issues of sheriff oversight, homeless outreach and development sprawl.

Peters announced her plan to retire at the end of her current term during a luncheon held by the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce, the Carmichael Times reported on Sept. 4. Peters, who didn’t return a message from SN&R, told the lunch crowd she wanted to “exit on a high note to avoid burning out—so residents still get the attention they deserve,” the community newspaper reported.

Peters has already endorsed her pick to replace her—Richard Desmond Jr., a Carmichael attorney and California Highway Patrol chief whom Peters appointed to the town’s Community Planning Advisory Council. On his campaign website, Desmond says he supports law enforcement interceding on homeless encampments and sees controversial property and business improvement districts as a tool for economic growth. But he also says he favors more treatment and supportive housing programs and wants local infrastructure improvements.

Endorsements from incumbents pack a wallop because of how little attention voters pay to local races. This is especially true in Sacramento County, which holds major contests for local offices during primaries, meaning lower turnouts. To win in March, a candidate needs to claim 50% plus one vote. If he or she doesn’t, the two top vote-getters face off in a November runoff.

Seven candidates have emerged to succeed Peters as the supervisor for District 3, which includes the neighborhoods of Arden Arcade, Cordova, Fair Oaks, Carmichael, North Highlands and Old Foothill Farms. Early campaign filings suggest competition from two moderate Democrats.

According to electronic filings from July, SMUD director Gregg Fishman had $28,422 in cash, and 11 donors for the six-month period.

Matthew H. Ceccato, a wounded combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and district director for Rep. Ami Bera, had $7,118 cash on hand from 33 donations.

The candidate whom Peters most defeated in 2016—Shaun Dillon, a member of the Sacramento Tenants Union—reported $308 on hand.

Desmond was one of four candidates who have yet to report financial contributions. That list also included Catrayel Wood, a senior budget analyst with the Judicial Council of California and the Fair Oaks Chamber of Commerce honorary mayor for 2017; Charles P. Crowder, president of his own real estate firm; and marketing professional Tiffany Mock-Goeman, one of the more progressive candidates on the slate.

Despite not running, Peters reported an ending cash balance of nearly $55,000, money she could use to aid her handpicked candidate.