The upcoming meeting of the Madera City Council on Wednesday will be a landmark of sorts:
- It will be the last regular meeting of a five-member Madera City Council elected at large. Subsequent meetings, beginning with the one Wednesday, Dec. 5, will see the city governed by a council made up six members elected by districts and a mayor elected at large for four years.
- It will be the first time African-Americans have served on the council. Both were the results of district elections, and both won without opposition. One of them, Donald Holley, is a longtime community activist. The other, Derek Robinson, while by no means a newcomer to the city, will be a greenhorn when it comes to city politics. Both will be seated Dec. 5.
- The new mayor, Robert Poythress, is a veteran on the City Council who already has served as mayor under the present system, in which the mayor is appointed from among the council by vote of the rest of the council members to serve one year. When he takes the gavel Dec. 5, Poythress will be breaking ground for all the mayors to come.
- At least one other change may begin: If Councilman Gary Svanda is declared the winner of the so-far squeaky-tight race for District 3 county supervisor, the City Council will have to fill his job by appointment. He lives in District 5, which straddles both sides of the State Route 99 transportation corridor and encompasses a wide variation of neighborhoods. His replacement also would have to live in that district. The job is filled by application, then by council appointment from among the applicants.
If Svanda’s position does come open, the person chosen to replace him likely will be new to city politics. If that’s the case, half the Madera City Council never will have served before. On top of that, two members, present Mayor Brett Frazier and Mayor Pro-Tem Andy Medellin, are only in their first terms. This should be an interesting year.