Benoit wins contest to keep Riverside County Supervisor's seat

Incumbent Supervisor overcomes challenge from termed-out Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - All three Riverside County supervisors facing re-election challenges glided to victory over their challengers in Tuesday's election.

In the Fourth District race between Supervisor John Benoit and termed-out Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez, Benoit clinched a victory that put him nearly 17 percentage points ahead of the challenger, according to election returns posted early today.

Returns posted to the Riverside County Registrar's website at 12:35 a.m. Wednesday had Benoit with 25,141 votes, or 58.28 percent of the vote.

Perez had 17,997 votes or 41.72 percent.

All precincts were counted, but provisional and an unknown number of last minute absentee ballots had yet to be counted.

Benoit, who was appointed to the board in 2009 following the death of Supervisor Roy Wilson, was elected to the seat in 2010. 

Perez was elected to the Assembly in 2008, serving his first term at the same time Benoit was serving as a state senator from the Coachella Valley.

Benoit, who served as a highway patrolman prior to entering state government, pointed to a pro-business record and support for ``public safety and infrastructure investments'' in seeking a second full term.

He led efforts to ensure the county received revenue from solar power projects planned in the Fourth District, which stretches from Palm Springs to Blythe. 

The undertaking was not without controversy, resulting in a lawsuit by solar power providers, who characterized the imposition of fees as a ``sun tax.'' 

The two sides eventually settled.

Perez, who worked as an educator and served on the Coachella Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees before becoming a lawmaker, held himself out as a ``coalition builder'' in the Assembly.

The Perez campaign had not issued a concession as of late Tuesday evening.

According to his campaign, Perez worked to obtain federal funds in support of the state's manufacturing and high-tech industries.

Though he ran on a platform of helping ``to protect small business and give them the tools to grow,'' the outgoing legislator does not count any pro-business or taxpayer advocacy groups among his list of endorsees. Benoit was endorsed from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers' Association. 

Fifth District Supervisor Marion Ashley topped challenger Mark Anthony Orozco by a wide margin. 

In the Second District, Supervisor John Tavaglione, entering his 20th year on the Board of Supervisors, sailed to a win over Jurupa Valley educator Arthur Gonzales.  

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