It's official: Seven candidates sign up to run for Lemoore City Council

By Ed Martin, Editor
It's official: Seven candidates sign up to run for Lemoore City Council

It’s official. There are seven candidates running for three open seats on the Lemoore City Council. As of Wednesday, Aug. 17, all seven had filed their nomination papers with the Lemoore City Clerk. The election will be held Nov. 8.

The list of candidates includes incumbent Eddie Neal, a former planning commissioner, Dave Brown, local educator and activist Holly Blair, longtime resident Ray Etchegoin, Navy veteran Beverly Halliman, Kings County Administrative Assistant, Angela Valenzuela, and former City of Lemoore Parks and Recreation Director Joe Simonson.

Incumbent Mayor Lois Wynne and Councilmember Billy Siegel, chose not to run again.

Neal is completing his first term on the council and says he plans to continue working on behalf of youth and senior programs. He lists his occupation as rancher and he serves on a number of organizations and agencies affiliated with the city, including the Kings Community Action Organization and League of California Cities.

Simonson’s entry into the race may have a personal edge to it. Earlier this year, city officials placed the longtime city employee on administrative leave for several months, and he later accepted a $100,000 settlement to retire. The reasons for his paid leave were not made public. However, Simonson was the subject of an investigation conducted by an outside investigator regarding allegations of misconduct.

Simonson told The Leader in an email that he’s basing his campaign on corruption and fiscal mismanagement. He also said that he will expose “even bigger flaws” in the system as the campaign continues.

Etchegoin is a longtime Lemoore resident and is heavily involved in the community. The former Kings Lions Club president says he likes the direction Lemoore is taking now with a recently hired city manager and positive outlook.

Holly Blair is taking her second stab at a council seat. She narrowly lost in the 2014 race and wants to try again. She also challenged Kings County Supervisor Doug Verboon in 2014 as well. She and her husband are the parents of five children, and she holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. She is active in a number of endeavors and volunteers at numerous community events.

Halliman is a 20-year Navy veteran and says he’s running to bring stability to the council. He’s also worked for Kings county and the Department of Corrections before retiring.

Valenzuela has lived in Lemoore much of her life. She currently works for Kings County as an administrative assistant. Her experience in county government, she says, gives her an appreciation of governmental budgets, policies and procedures. She is also a former Kings County Sheriff’s Detentions Deputy.

Brown, making his first elective office run, made news in 2013 when he resigned from the Lemoore Planning Commission when councilmembers, led by Siegel and then Councilmember John Gordon and Lois Wynn, gutted the planning department. Brown spoke out vehemently about the proposed cutbacks, one voice in a chorus of Lemoore citizens who spoke out against the department’s elimination.

Brown is a civil service worker at NAS Lemoore. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2003. He is also a member of Lemoore’s Volunteers in Policing.

The Leader, as the election draws nearer, will provide more information on the candidates and their views.

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