First District County Supervisor Bob Buster will move on to a November runoff election in his bid to retain his seat, and Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries narrowly beat out a career highway patrolman to earn a spot on the runoff ballot.
Buster easily led the three-candidate field, but the battle for second place between Jeffries and Mike Soubirous was too close to call for much of the night after Tuesday’s election.
Final unofficial results showed Jeffries edging out Soubirous by about 400 votes.
Buster, 67, is seeking his sixth term in office. Since he was unlikely to earn more than 50 percent of the vote, he will advance to a Nov. 6 runoff against the second-highest vote-getter.
Jeffries, 51, is being termed out of office after six years in the Assembly. The Lake Elsinore resident and 30-year volunteer firefighter has been endorsed by a number of groups, including the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the National Tax Limitation Committee and the Riverside County Deputy District Attorneys’ Association.
In campaign literature, Jeffries stated that he has been a champion of “taxpayer rights” and worked to curb wasteful spending in state government.
The property management company owner argued that the county is stacked with too many “bureaucracies and regulations” that should be reduced or eliminated, while supervisors’ and other county officials’ “bloated” salaries and benefits should be slashed to save money.
Both Jeffries and Soubirous supported capping supervisors’ pay at $100,000. Board members are paid $143,000 annually, not including car perks and other benefits and allowances.
According to Soubirous, supervisors should also be subject to term limits; he vowed that if elected, he will not remain in office beyond two four-year terms.
“Public office should be a civic-minded honor, not a way to get rich,” he said in a campaign statement.
The veteran law enforcement officer criticized county leaders for not adequately supporting the county’s public safety apparatus in recent budget cycles. The bulk of the 54-year-old’s campaign contributions — more than $200,000 — came from the Riverside Sheriffs’ Association, the union representing sheriff’s deputies.
The RSA, along with the Service Employees International Union and other labor organizations oppose Buster’s re-election, reflecting the opposition the incumbent has generated by backing pension reform and other measures in response to the county’s budgetary red ink, which the unions have argued is overblown for political purposes.
According to Buster, his most recent term in office has been marked by a fiscally conservative stewardship of public money and a dedication to job-creation, citing his advocacy of the UC Riverside School of Medicine and expansion of Hunter Park at March Air Reserve Base as examples.
The 20-year county supervisor and citrus farmer has been endorsed by fellow Supervisors John Benoit and Jeff Stone, as well as District Attorney Paul Zellerbach.
The First District encompasses most of the eastern half of the city of Riverside, stretching south to Lake Elsinore and Wildomar and west to El Cariso.