Madera can thank some aggressive real estate advertising for bringing one of its new City Council members to town. Derek Orlando Robinson, Sr., says he was driving down Highway 99 with a friend in 1992 when he saw a billboard that read, “Four-bedroom home in Madera — $80,000.”
That’s when he made up his mind to leave the Bay Area and move to town. This was the place for him, and he has been here ever since.
Although Robinson said he never dreamed he would ever run for public office until just a few months ago, he has been running most of his adult life. The new guy on Madera’s political block attended the University of California, Berkeley, on a full ride, track-and-field scholarship, graduating in 1982. Before that, in 1979, he earned the title of top junior college track-and-field athlete in the United States.
Robinson was born in Cleveland, but moved with his mother to Los Angeles when he was just a few months old. When he was in the fourth grade, his mother moved her family to Pasadena. After graduating from John Muir High School in Pasadena, Robinson joined the Army. In 1977 he enrolled in junior college and won a place on the school’s track team. He competed in the 100- and 200-meter races, in addition to the long jump and relays...