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Early Returns Show Schillo, Mikels With Strong Leads

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ventura County voters showed strong early support for two incumbent supervisors Tuesday, divided sharply in a rare three-way judicial race and expressed their views in a bitterly fought state Assembly contest.

Early returns showed supervisors Judy Mikels and Frank Schillo holding commanding leads over respective slow-growth candidates Jon Palo and Vince Curtis.

“It looks pretty darn good,” Schillo said. “This morning I told myself, ‘If hard work counts, then people are going to vote for me, and if it doesn’t, I’ll have to find something else to do.’ ”

In the race to replace suspended Superior Court Judge Robert C. Bradley, Deputy Dist. Atty. Kevin McGee took an early lead over Gary Windom and Cathleen Drury. But Windom was steadily cutting into the lead as the night progressed, McGee was running short of the majority vote needed for victory, and a November runoff appeared likely.

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And in the legislative race to succeed outgoing Assemblyman Nao Takasugi (R-Oxnard), Tony Strickland held a strong early lead over Rich Sybert and four other Republicans seeking their party’s nomination for the November election.

Among the other contested races were county-auditor controller, assessor and county superintendent of schools.

In the superintendent’s race incumbent Charles Weis held a strong lead in early returns over Wayne Edmonds in what was believed to be only the second election since the county schools post was created last century.

Voters also cast ballots for nominees for governor, U.S. Senate s and a slew of statewide ballot measures. Proposition 227, an initiative to end bilingual education, was winning by a 2 to 1 margin in early county returns.

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With many votes still untallied, it was impossible to determine the winners of many campaigns.

Voter turnout was running between 38% and 42%, about average for a gubernatorial primary, said Bruce Bradley, county elections chief.

California’s first blanket primary--the first election giving voters the right to cast ballots for a Democrat in one office and a Republican in another--did not seem to make much difference for many county voters, who cast ballots along traditional party lines. Some voters reported feeling overwhelmed at the sheer number of candidates on the ballot.

“There are so many names, it got confusing,” said Sally Mark outside the North Ranch Community Center in Thousand Oaks. “Sad to say, sometimes it just came down to the eenie-meenie.”

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At the North Ranch Community Center in Thousand Oaks, some voters appeared to be favoring Schillo over Curtis in the 2nd Supervisorial District, which includes Oak Park, Thousand Oaks and Port Hueneme.

“He [Curtis] is big-time Sierra Club, and that is too radical for me,” said Joan Aldrich, explaining her support for Schillo.

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But others chose Curtis, citing the same reasons.

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“I like his slow-growth, open-space positions,” said David Brolin.

In Simi Valley, Supervisor Mikels was popular with voters exiting the polls.

“She seems to be every place I turn,” said Georgina Rozgowski, who has lived in the area since 1941. “She seems to be involved.”

But some voters cast ballots for Palo, saying they were turned off by Mikels for supporting a board resolution designating May 31 as Lesbian and Gay Pride Day.

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“You can’t give in to any type of special interest thing like that,” said one resident, who asked not to be named.

At the Ventura school district’s downtown headquarters, retired police officer Kim Stewart said she voted for Windom in the judge’s race. She said she chose the public defender, instead of McGee, a deputy district attorney, because many former prosecutors already sit on the bench.

“I’ve heard people say that we don’t need to pick someone for balance,” Stewart said. “Oh yes we do. I know and like a lot of prosecutors . . . but they have a definite point of view.”

Torn between Windom and McGee, 72-year-old retiree Forrest Inks cast his ballot for Drury, a family law attorney.

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“I ended up voting for the only lady on the ballot,” he said. “It was a little rebellion on my part.”

Seven candidates squared off to replace retiring Assessor Glenn Gray in a race that appeared destined for a runoff. James Dodd, the assessor’s tax specialist, and Dan Goodwin, an appraiser, were the top vote-getters in early returns.

Incumbent County Auditor Tom Mahon, who has worked in the county auditor’s office for 27 years, was ahead in the early vote against businessman Stephen Maulhardt, but Maulhardt was steadily cutting into the lead as the night progressed.

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Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury ran unopposed for his sixth straight term. Treasurer-Tax Collector Hal Pittman and County Clerk Richard Dean were also unchallenged. Chief Deputy Sheriff Bob Brooks was unopposed to replace retiring Sheriff Larry Carpenter.

In local legislative races, five Republicans were vying for their party’s nomination in the race to replace incumbent Assemblyman Takasugi, who is stepping down due to term limits. Takasugi’s 37th Assembly District stretches from Thousand Oaks and Camarillo to Oxnard.

Democrat Roz McGrath, a schoolteacher, and Reform Party candidate Michael Farris, a scientist, will square off against the Republican winner in November.

In addition to legislative aide Strickland and attorney Sybert, the GOP candidates were taxpayer advocate Jere Robings, private investigator John Lane and Port Hueneme Councilwoman Toni P. Young.

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Sybert, who made news earlier this year when he admitted lying about tearing down Strickland’s campaign signs after being caught on videotape, said he was “cautiously optimistic” he would prevail. He was in fourth place in early returns.

“I’m very excited,” Strickland said. “I’m looking forward to November. I’ve been saying from the beginning, before the sign incident, that we were going to win this race. I think I represent the views of this district. This is a very conservative district.”

He declined to comment on Sybert, and whether voters were sending a message by rejecting him, saying only, “I’ve tried to run a positive campaign.”

In the 35th Assembly District, which straddles Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, two Democrats and three Republicans were battling for their respective party nominations in hopes of succeeding outgoing incumbent Brooks Firestone.

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Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson, a family law attorney, was leading opponent Al Pizano, area manager for Southern California Gas Co., in early returns.

Republican Chris Mitchum, an actor, held a slim lead over Alan Ebenstein, a Santa Barbara school board member, in early balloting.

Republican Tom McClintock was unopposed for reelection to the 38th Assembly District seat, which straddles Simi Valley and San Fernando Valley and includes portions of Thousand Oaks. He will face no challenge in November other than a write-in campaign launched last week by Democrat Jon M. Lauritzen.

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Democrat Jack O’Connell was unchallenged in the primary for reelection to his 18th Senate district seat, which stretches from San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties into western Ventura County. He will face Republican Gordon Klemm of Arroyo Grande and Libertarian Jack Ray of Goleta in November.

In federal races, three Republicans were vying for the right to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) in November. Sherman, whose 24th Congressional District includes the Conejo Valley and portions of the San Fernando Valley, faced no primary opponent.

The Republican candidates were Joe Gelman, a businessman and former newspaper columnist, Randy Hoffman, the former president of a company that makes satellite navigation systems, and William Westmiller, a small-business owner.

U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) was unopposed for reelection to the 23rd Congressional District, which covers the majority of Ventura County, from Simi Valley to Ventura. He will face Democrat Daniel Gonzalez, a Simi Valley attorney, in November.

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Times staff writers Kate Folmar, Rodney Bosch and Leo Smith and correspondents Nick Green, Joel Engardio and Regina Hong contributed to this story.

* ELECTION WORKER DIES: Car crash on Ventura Freeway claims life of temporary employee on lunch break. B4

* MAIN STORIES AND RESULTS: A1, A20-21


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