Regardless of who wins the two seats Tuesday on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, the election will complete the reinvention of the board in just two years.

It's the second chapter in a saga that began in 2008, when long-term incumbents Tim Smith and Mike Reilly chose not to seek re-election and were replaced by newcomers.

Now, longtime north county Supervisor Paul Kelley, the board's most conservative voice, has decided to call it quits after 16 years. Vying for his 4th District spot are two relatively liberal candidates, Windsor Town Councilwoman Debora Fudge and Healdsburg City Councilman Mike McGuire, with similar stances on environmental and labor issues.

The other open seat is in the 2nd District, stretching from Cotati to Marin County, where longtime Supervisor Mike Kerns chose not pursue a fourth four-year term.

In that contest, three Petaluma council members are seeking the supervisorial job, which pays $134,500. They are Mayor Pam Torliatt and councilmen Mike Healy and David Rabbitt. The fourth candidate is John King, a Penngrove rancher and accountant whose campaign slogan "Had Enough?" could resonate with voters fed up with the status quo.

Most analysts anticipate that no one candidate in the south county race will get more than 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday's primary. That would mean the two top vote-getters advance to the November general election.

The election sets the stage for a new dynamic on the board, a changing of the guard.

"We are going to lose a tremendous amount of institutional knowledge, not only Paul Kelley but Mike Kerns, and having lost former Supervisor Tim Smith," said Rob Muelrath, a Santa Rosa political consultant.

He said he hopes the newcomers will confer with the outgoing and former supervisors. "They better understand the budget, the different contracts with labor (groups), contracts with public safety, health and human services. They have a lot of homework," Muelrath said. "It will take them a while to get grounded and understand how county government works."

<NO1><NO>Voters go to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in a number of high-profile races. Close to home, voters will choose a district attorney for Sonoma County, elect three judges and decide the fate of a sales tax hike in Rohnert Park. Also on the ballot, voters must evaluate five state ballot measures and pick Democrat and Republican nominees for the Legislature, Congress and state offices, including a new governor.

But the twin county supervisor races promise to complete the biggest shake-up of county government in three decades.

<NO1><NO>Bob Anderson, whose job as executive director of United Winegrowers has entailed sitting through countless board meetings since 1987, said it's been 30 years at least since there have been so many new faces at once on the board.

"It drives home the point (that) we're headed into very uncharted waters in terms of having four members, all relatively new," he said.

"Each board member will have to step right up," Anderson said. "Anyone who is taking the job in these times has to be prepared and ready to deal with the big issues."

Eric Koenigshofer, a Santa Rosa attorney who held the west county supervisorial seat from 1976-80, said there was even greater turnover when he was on the board, but he acknowledged that the current situation is out of the norm. "In a two-year cycle, to see four board members leaving through retirement is fairly unusual."

But come January, the four relatively new supervisors in office will not be as thin on experience as one might think, he said.<NO1><NO>

<NO1><NO>The new senior member, Valerie Brown, will have been in county office for eight years. Prior to that, she served in the state Assembly. Efren Carrillo and Shirlee Zane, the newest members of the board, will have been in office two years. And whether Fudge or McGuire is elected from the 4th District, he said both have served fairly lengthy periods in public office.

Fudge has been a Windsor Town Council member for 14 years after serving on the Planning Commission. And McGuire has been on the Healdsburg City Council for six years after serving as a Healdsburg school board member and president.

Whoever is elected will have six months to get up to speed on county issues, he said.

In the south county district, because there will likely be a run-off election, the winner won't have quite as much time to dive into county matters before being seated on the board.

But Koenigshofer noted that Torliatt, Rabbitt and Healy all have seasoning as a result of their experience on the Petaluma City Council.

"They're very familiar with local government and the interaction of the City of Petaluma and the county," he said.

Having a new county administrator — Veronica Ferguson took over the post in February — along with a new county counsel to replace the retiring Steven Woodside might be more significant, in his view.

Brian Sobel, a political consultant and a former Petaluma City Councilman, said the new board will represent a kind of "new order," but it will take awhile for the new direction to be ascertained.

"Everyone will have to take the time to learn what everyone's hot buttons are, their points of emphasis, and how to work with someone that's new to you," he said.

But with the daunting budget problems, the issues facing the county could override personal and legislative agendas of board members.

"The issues are so large, much of the next three to five years will be spent working their way out of a hole they didn't make, but have to deal with," Sobel said.

"It will take a great deal of cooperation between supervisors, staff and constituency groups," he said of solving the challenges ahead. "It requires a collective approach to things."

And the winners in the election, he said, could end up feeling a bit like that line in a movie, where the survivors of nuclear war are said to envy the dead.

"The living will envy the political dead," Sobel said.