Merced County Times Newspaper
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Pazin enters Assembly race as local standout with credentials

Mark Pazin
Mark Pazin

Speculation over whether or not a candidate from Merced County would step up and try to fill Adam Gray’s shoes as this region’s next representative in the State Assembly was wiped out over the weekend.

Mark Pazin, the well-known former Merced County Sheriff, announced his candidacy for the newly formed 27th Assembly District, which includes most of this county, along with portions of Fresno and Madera counties.

“I think we are in a pretty good position,” Pazin told the Times during an interview Monday. “It is an open seat. It’s got a lot of Merced County voters, and I hope everybody will get out and vote.”

Assemblyman Gray, a local Democrat, has represented Merced County in Sacramento since 2012, but after the statewide redistricting process, Gray decided to run for Congress in the redrawn 13th District that also includes Merced County.

Pazin, a Republican, now faces an election race with at least one top competitor — Fresno City Council member Esmeralda Soria, a Democrat. Locals may remember that Soria challenged U.S. Rep. Jim Costa in the 16th District Congressional race a couple years ago. She lost the race, but went on to serve in her final term on the City Council.

Meanwhile, another Fresno Council member and Democrat, Mike Karbassi, says he is “exploring” a run for the 27th Assembly seat.

Pazin has never lost an election, having run successfully for Merced County Sheriff in 2002, 2006 and 2010. His extended reach to Sacramento started when he was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to serve on the 911 Advisory Commission that had oversight of the dispatch centers across the state. When he retired from the Sheriff’s Department, Pazin went on to serve as chief of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, first under Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, and then under current Gov. Gavin Newsom, another Democrat.

“I’ve worked for three governors really,” Pazin pointed out. “I’ve seen a lot up here. It’s almost like getting a doctorate degree up here in Sacramento. OES was a very interesting place. Over the past eight years, we have touched a lot of people, between natural and human-caused disasters, it showed us how well everyone has worked together. … And I worked well with everyone, including state senators and assembly members. I have testified before both groups, and reported directly to two governors.”

Earlier this year, Pazin said he was approached by the Republican Assembly Caucus, and “one thing led to another.”

Now Pazin says he has a team in place and they are ready to start campaigning. He says they will focus on the “four pillars of my candidacy.”

They are:

1. Adding water storage to our infrastructure

2. Ensure there is funding for law enforcement

3. A review of taxation in the state

4. A more comprehensive approach to the homeless crisis.

Pazin says a run for the State Assembly compared to a run for County Sheriff will be “a whole different set of rules and circumstances.”

Said Pazin, “I have a whole group of people who are helping me, and it’s going to be done professionally.”

Lloyd Pareira, the chairman of the Merced County Board of Supervisors is happy to support the former sheriff.

“This seat should be held by someone from Merced County and Mark is willing to step up on our behalf,” Pareira told the Times. “As our past Sheriff and Cal OES chief, he understands our beliefs and needs, and his time in Sacramento gives him the tools to navigate up there as well.”

Meanwhile, candidate Soria of Fresno, who also serves as the president of the California League of Cities Latino Caucus, is racking up a list of endorsements that includes nearly 100 local and state elected officials and business leaders.

They include, among others: Merced County Supervisor Rodrigo Espinoza, Livingston City Council member Jose Moran, Santa Nella County Water District Board member Patricia Ramos-Anderson, Merced businesswoman and activist Sol Rivas, Merced City Council member Bertha Perez, and State Senator Anna Caballero.

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