State Board of Equalization District 1-4


California has the only publicly elected tax commission in the United States. On Tuesday, voters across the state cast ballots to elect members of the state Equalization Board.

In District 4, which includes Riverside, Imperial, Orange and San Diego counties, as well as parts of San Bernardino County, it was incumbent Democrat Mike Schaefer who opened an early lead.

This race attracted seven candidates, including five Republicans, as Schaefer was considered vulnerable. Schaefer, an octogenarian lawyer, faced issues including his disbarment, sleep owner charges and a domestic violence conviction.

However, with 2.1% of the constituency returns, Schaefer received 40.7% of the vote. The top two voters will qualify for November’s general election and the battle for second place was close as Democrat David Dodson, council staff supervisor, won 15.9% of the vote while Denis Bilodeau, Republican and member of the Orange County Water District Board of Directors led the five GOP candidates in the field with 13.8% of the vote.

Other tallies in early returns:

  • Republican Erik Peterson, member of the Huntington Beach City Council, 9.4%
  • Republican Matthew Harper, former Huntington Beach Assemblyman, 8.4%
  • Republican John F. Kelly, small business owner, 6.0%
  • Republican Randell R. Economy, eccentric former spokesman for last year’s recall campaign against Governor Gavin Newsom, 5.8%

Board duties have been reduced in recent years, though the work still brings in $163,000 a year.

Until about five years ago, council members oversaw the collection of one-third of all taxes paid in California. But in 2017 lawmakers stripped the council of most of its powers after allegations of improper spending and other misdeeds by council member Jerome Horton.

There were three other California districts also voting for Equalization Board members. Here’s what those races looked like on Tuesday night:

District 1

This district, which covers the interior of California from the Oregon border to San Bernardino County, is represented by Ted Gaines, a Republican. He faced three Democratic challengers: Jose Altamirano, Braden Murphy and Nader Shahatit.

Gaines had a commanding lead with 28.9% of the constituency returns. Gaines had 50% of all votes counted. Altamirano was next with 23.2%. The top two will qualify for the November general election.

District 2

This district runs along the coast of Ventura County to the Oregon border. Incumbent Malia Cohen, a Democrat, was running for the state comptroller’s office in Tuesday’s primary, hoping to succeed Betty Yee, who is being fired.

Two Democrats were vying for the seat: former San Francisco Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, a small-business owner, and Mountain View City Councilwoman and former Assemblywoman Sally Lieber. Peter Coe Verbica, an investment adviser, was running as a Republican.

Early returns showed Leiber had 53.2% of the vote, Verbica 26.5% and Alioto-Pier 20.3%.

District 3

This district covers Los Angeles. Incumbent Tony Vazquez, a Democrat, was challenged by fellow Democrat John Mendoza and Y. Marie Manvel, an independent.

With 100% of the constituencies partially declared, it was Vazquez with 67.0% of the vote and Manvel in second place with 20.6%. Mendoza was third with 12.4% of the vote.

For each position, only the top two candidates from the first round of the hiring process (also known as the primary) will advance to the final exam in November.


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