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Assembly and supervisor forums tonight

Patrick McCartney

Candidates for the California Assembly and El Dorado County Board of Supervisors will square off at a forum tonight in South Lake Tahoe, but one seat will be empty.

The forum, sponsored by the Tahoe Daily Tribune and the League of Women Voters, will begin at 6 p.m. at the South Lake Tahoe City Council Chambers, 1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd. The event will be televised by TCI Cablevision on Channel 21.

The supervisor’s race features two well-known South Lake Tahor leaders, Councilwoman Margo Osti and Fire Chief Dave Solaro, and a third, businessman Dan Browne, who made a previous try for the office four years ago.

The three are competing to succeed Supervisor John Upton, who will step down after representing Lake Tahoe for two terms.

The assembly race, featuring a challenge to incumbent Thomas “Rico” Oller from within the Republican primary, will have one notable missing.

Still recovering from heart bypass surgery he underwent April 3, Oller has been unable to attend many campaign events and is not planning to attend tonight’s forum at Lake Tahoe, according to campaign director Dave Titus.

“Rico is able to fulfill his legislative duties, but hasn’t had the energy to do much campaigning,” Titus said. “Rico will have to run on his record. He has 18 months in office and has nearly 2,000 votes for people to judge him on.”

While Oller will be absent, Lake Tahoe voters will have a chance to listen to other candidates running in the contested race, as well as all three local residents vying to replace John Upton for El Dorado County’s 5th supervisorial seat.

Oller, who won a contentious primary two years ago before easily defeating Democratic candidate Erike Young, faces a challenge from fellow Republican Ray Nutting, an El Dorado County Supervisor and rancher. Also seeking the assembly seat are Democrat Mark Norberg, a retired sales executive and Libertarian Robert Mulvany, a retired construction manager.

The race could be a key test of California’s new blanket primary, in which voters can vote for candidates from any other party.

Nutting has courted Democratic voters in the primary, seeking union endorsements and opposing the anti-union Proposition 226. Young, who lost to Oller two years ago as a Democrat, changed his party registration to Republican, and is chairing Nutting’s campaign.

With Republicans enjoying a registration advantage in the 4th Assembly district, the winner of the Republican primary is almost assured of winning in the November runoff.

While Oller’s health is preventing him from actively campaigning, Titus said Oller remains unconcerned by the challenge from Nutting.

“Rico would clean Nutting’s clock in a forum,” Titus said. But, as a member of the “zipper club” of heart surgery patients, Oller often hits the wall after performing his legislative duties, Titus added.

Oller underwent angioplasty last year after experiencing chest pains. He has since switched to a vegetarian diet and begun daily exercise to address the condition, but underwent the bypass surgery on the first day of the Legislature’s spring recess.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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