It’s Romero vs. Oller |

It’s Romero vs. Oller

The race to replace Sen. Tim Leslie in the District 1 Senate seat has been narrowed to two candidates.

At press time Tuesday, 35 percent of the ballots were tabulated. Early results showed Thomas Romero, 60, from Loomis, Calif., as the Democratic front-runner with 16 percent of the votes and Thomas “Rico” Oller, 40, of San Andreas, as the Republican leader with 47 percent.

Seven candidates campaigned for the slot vacated by Leslie, of Tahoe City, who will be on the ballot for District 4 Assembly in November. Leslie had 69 percent of the vote at press time and his opponent, Stephen A. Macola, a Placer County lobbyist, had 31 percent.

Leslie was faced with term limits for his seat and Oller, with one term remaining in the Assembly, opted to vie for Senate.

“Win or lose, I still have to get up early to get to school on time,” said Romero, who is an eighth-grade history teacher.

“It’s going to be a difficult race,” Romero said. “(Oller) will have the voter registration edge and the money edge. District 1 is a more conservative area.”

“I feel great, we won big,” Oller said.

After being targeted with what Oller called unfair and negative campaigns against him, he is pleased that the voters avoided the attacks.

“This is just the proof that the public is fed up with it,” he said. “We ran a positive campaign and we won.”

Oller celebrated with supporters at Piatti restaurant in Roseville. “It’s wild here,” Oller said. “We’re just thrilled about how things turned out.”

The candidates now have until November to duke it out.

Romero will begin preparing for the election during his summer break. He hopes Oller will attend public forums to debate the issues before the election. Romero ran against Leslie in 1996.

“Tim Leslie wouldn’t show up (for discussions). Oller hasn’t so far either, which is too bad,” Romero said.

“There is a clear definition between he and I,” Romero said.

Romero is “totally opposed” to school vouchers and Oller supports them, Romero said. As a teacher in the Legislature, Romero believes he will give education the attention it deserves.

He supports increased vocational training and wants teacher qualifications to improve.

Oller has said that as senator he will be able to preserve Lake Tahoe while keeping it accessible at the same time. He wants to balance private property rights with public access, which will be a challenge.

Oller is also concerned with traffic congestion in the Tahoe Basin. He wants to see traffic improvements made on U.S. Highway 50 and on State Route 89.

Romero has an interest in reducing urban sprawl and installing a statewide light rail system.

Oller is pro-life and Romero is pro-choice, which Romero cites as another key difference.

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