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Third Candidate Enters South Valley Senate Race. Will a Fourth Join?



From left: Nicole Parra, Rob Fuentes, and Imelda Ceja are running for state Senate District 16. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)
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Public health advocate and labor leader Imelda Ceja, D-Bakersfield, is the latest entry into the state Senate District 16 race.

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David Taub

Politics 101

Ceja, 63, works as a project specialist for the Kern County public health department. She also serves as a public member on the California Board of Registered Nursing.

“I have been at the forefront of fighting for health care access for all Central Valley residents,” Ceja said.

Additionally, Ceja serves as chair of the Kern, Inyo and Mono Counties Central Labor Council. This is her first run for public office.

“I have extensive experience working in the community and through my advocacy through the public health department and labor. We’re involved in a lot of different things. I’m involved in a lot of different things. That puts me ahead of the other candidates,” Ceja said.

Others who have declared include former Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, D-Bakersfield, and civil rights attorney Rob Fuentes, D-Porterville.

The official filing period starts Monday and runs through March 11. Because no incumbents are likely in the race — the nominal SD 16 incumbent, Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, plans to run in SD 12 — the deadline will be extended to March 16.

Also in Politics 101: 

  • What is the election future of Bryan Osorio?
  • No competitive judicial elections in Fresno County.

What About Osorio?

Delano Mayor Bryan Osorio is another potential entrant. However, he is still listed as running for Congress, targeting incumbent David Valadao, R-Hanford.

But, on his website, Osorio now is eying a state Senate run.

A screenshot of Bryan Osorio’s campaign webpage. It used to be Osorio for Congress.

No Competitive Judicial Races

The filing period for candidates to run for judge has closed and there will be no competitive races in Fresno County.

Eighteen judicial positions could have been on the ballot, 17 seeking re-election and one open position. Only one candidate applied for each position.

That means Bob Whalen, a senior deputy district attorney and Clovis City Councilman, will not have an active election for a seat opened by the retirement of Denise Whitehead. That also means Whalen will unlikely run for Clovis City Council re-election in November, opening a seat there.

Six judges who sat on the bench through an appointment by the governor — Irene Luna, Heather Mardel Jones, Ryan Wells, Leanne Le Mon, Samuel Dalesandro Jr., and Charles Lee — faced their first time on the ballot.

However, since none of the 18 candidates face competition, voters will not see their names on the ballot.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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