Friday, January 18, 2008

my first story

I'll be posting all the stories I write, after they're published, in case family and friends are curious what I'm up to. Tim Crews, my boss, heavily edited this one with background info.

Asst. D.A. Stewart runs for judge; Viegas for supe
By Sam Bhagwat
of The Valley Mirror

Willows — Sleepy Glenn County politics is getting a jolt with Assistant District Attorney Dwayne Stewart running for judge.

That means that if Family Law Commissioner Peter Billiou Twede runs, as is expected, it will be the first contested judicial race in more than 20 years.

Four major positions are up in this election, set for five months from now: Glenn County Superior Court Judge and supervisor seats for the First, Third, and Fifth districts.

Mr. Stewart has taken out papers for the soon to be vacated Superior Court Judge position, currently held by the Hon. Angus Saint-Evens, who is retiring. Mr. Stewart is seeking the bench, according to a county elections office signature-gathering sheet he signed last Thursday.

Judge Saint-Evens would not comment on the upcoming elections, and Mr. Stewart, who diligently tried to return our calls, unfortunately missed connecting.

Glenn County Fair Board member and former Orland Police Chief John Viegas says he’s thinking about setting his sights on the District One Supervisor seat, held by Thomas M. McGowan. Mr. Viegas is thinking pretty hard; he signed the signature-gathering sheet Monday.

District One is the Orland doughnut, or a vaguely circular piece of turf outside the city limits.

Mr. Viegas says his candidacy was in an "infancy stage." He had few specifics down yet – including whether he would even run – but waxed poetic about “change,” “common sense,” and “a positive direction.”

He wants to “look at the economic situation in Glenn County” and “find out what all the issues are, find out what direction people want to go.”

Mr. Viegas continued, “I’m friends with Tom McGowan and his family. I’m not running in a negative light.”

He says he will take a “common sense approach to things,” such as zoning issues and code enforcement issues, while “making Glenn County more desirable as a parent, and for businesses … more user-friendly.

"This is all new to me, as to running for an elected position," he said.

By comparison, Mr. McGowan was sparse with his comments, saying he wasn't sure whether he'd run for re-election. “When I decide to announce [my candidacy], my family will be the first ones to know, and obviously they don’t.”

Mr. Viegas was hired as chief of police when Mr. McGowan was on the Orland City Council. His hiring was a decision Mr. McGowan supported, but Mr. McGowan would comment neither on Mr. Viegas' candidacy nor Mr. Viegas' job performance.

Mr. Viegas was a Chico Police captain after leaving Orland.

No one has begun to gather signatures for the District Three seat, but first-term incumbent John Amaro is planning to run for re-election, saying he's interested in keeping the rural way of life while providing job opportunities.

"My biggest interest is the growth of the county and being part of that," he said.

Orland School Board member Leigh McDaniel told THE MIRROR that he plans to run for Mr. Amaro’s post.

For the District Five seat, currently occupied by seven-term supervisor Keith Hansen, there's not so much open hat-throwing as stealthy circling.

No one has yet started to gather petitions for the well-worn District Five seat, and Mr. Hansen says he's not running again. So potential candidates have approached Mr. Hansen seeking endorsements, and Mr. Hansen has urged associates to run. Each unsuccessfully, so far.

Four years ago, Mr. Hansen decided at the last minute to run for re-election. This time around?

"I don't know what could change my mind," he said. "It's time for me to get on to other things."

Candidates have until March 7 to file declarations of candidacy and submit signatures or filing fee, or March 12 if the incumbent is not running for re-election.

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