Jeff Stone is embarking on his third campaign for Riverside County’s 3rd District Supervisorial seat. In 2004, he defeated incumbent Jim Venable. In 2008, he garnered 71 percent of the vote to defeat Deane Foote’s token opposition in the spring primary, and as a result did not have to wage a fall campaign.
This year, Joe Scarafone of Hemet is challenging Stone. His campaign, like much of this phase of the 2012 elections, has been low key and very dependent upon grassroots support.
When asked why he thought the primary was not attracting much attention, Stone attributed it to the change to an open primary from a party primary.
“The open primary changed the dynamics of the campaign,” he said. Many candidates are just waiting to see who will be on the November ballot.
“It’s very tough raising money for any issue now,” he added.
Through May 25, Stone has raised about $66,000 in campaign contributions for his re-election and his expenditures have totaled about $93,000. His campaign committee debt totals $15,000, but he has nearly $60,000 in cash for the last few days of the primary campaign.
As of May 19, his opponent, Joe Scarafone, had raised $2,700 of which $200 was cash available for the remainder of the campaign.
In the First Supervisor’s District, incumbent Bob Buster is trying to ward off serious challenges from Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries and former Highway Patrol officer Mike Soubirous. Collectively they have received more than $475,000 in contributions and each has more than $100,000 in cash for the final weeks.
If he wins, Stone mentioned several goals that he wants to achieve for Idyllwild during his final term on the Board.
First, he said he wants to see the historic district begin operations. He also wants the new library completed, which may occur before his second term officially ends in December.
Establishing a senior center in Idyllwild is another of his goals for the coming four years. “There is really a very active senior group here,” he noted.
But Stone is also planning a major effort to help Hemet and San Jacinto address local unemployment and crime problems. As the county makes progress on these issues and programs, Stone expects to see benefits spill over into the Hill communities.
“We need to come up with programs to strengthen public safety’s presence in these areas,” he stressed. “Unfortunately some of these problems spill over from Hemet Valley,” he added. “We don’t want people to think we’re not paying attention.”
Another county initiative, the Wine County Plan, also has the potential to benefit the Hill, Stone said. “We’re not trying to attract people to the wine company for just a weekend — it’s for a week or two visit. While they are there, they’ll undoubtedly want to go see Idyllwild.”
In order to ensure public safety agencies can maintain their presence, Stone foresees some layoffs in other county departments. He wants the ratio of sheriff’s deputies to 1,000 residents in the unincorporated areas to return to the 1.0 level. Currently it is about 0.9 and moving toward 0.75.
“Our biggest responsibility and number one priority is public safety,” Stone stated. “Even if we do everything we can, it still depends on what the state does to us.”