Madera City Councilwoman Cecelia “Cece” Gallegos, who represents District 1, is the Madera Tribune Editorial Board’s clear choice in the Nov. 6 General Election.
Gallegos, who has been in office a little less than two years, was elected in 2016 to replace then-Councilman Andrew Medellin, who was elected mayor when then-mayor Robert Poythress was elected to the Madera County Board of Supervisors.
Gallegos, although new to city politics, proved to be a quick study, and dove into city finances, taking issue with how the rest of the council spent Madera’s money. As an example, she studied operations at the sewage treatment plant and saved the city $150,000 on the purchase of a piece of major equipment.
Her opponent, Steve Salter, does not seem ready for the job. He is not a regular attendee at council meetings, and his only strength seems to be backing from Medellin, who has been at odds with Gallegos when she questions city policies.
Salter owns a business, and Gallegos is a kindergarten teacher.
Another City Council race, that for District 3, pits incumbent William Oliver against former Madera Redevelopment Agency staff member Steve Montes, who wrote the city’s recently adopted Rental Housing Ordinance.
Montes, a graduate of Madera High School, left the city workforce to take a similar job with the City of Fresno.
Oliver, also an employee of the City of Fresno, grew up in Madera, graduated from Madera High School and then from Fresno State, where he earned a business degree.
Oliver is presently chair of the Madera Housing Authority, on which he sits as a member of the City Council. He is involved in an effort to bring low-cost housing to downtown Madera.
This is a tough choice to make, because both candidates are energetic and have ideas to move the city forward.
But both work for Fresno, and while that doesn’t disqualify either, a person might wonder whether their loyalties could be split if push came to shove.
The editorial board’s nod goes to Oliver, primarily because he gets high marks from his constituents, who say he gets things done on their behalf with the city.
Montes also receives high marks, for writing the rental housing ordinance, a herculean task that took a year and brought many of the city’s factions together.
For District 5, incumbent Charles Rigby is facing Santos Garcia.
During his time on the council, Rigby served as chair of the Madera Housing Authority, and as such led a successful effort to use the city’s Pomona Ranch migrant housing facility, formerly closed during the summer, for housing for homeless families.
For his efforts, Rigby received a state award, and learned a lot about how to accomplish things by working with others. He is a youth minister, locally employed.
Rigby’s opponent is longtime resident Santos Garcia, a retired postal employee. While Garcia has no government experience on the municipal level, he nevertheless has paid close attention to city issues over the years, and has a keen sense of how the city works. He said he knows without a doubt that the council erred in allowing the compensation of certain city managerial employees to be set at higher levels than the city could afford. One assumes he would vote against any further increases.
The editorial board’s nod goes to Rigby, primarily because of his achievement in helping put together the Pomona Ranch arrangement.
Garcia is a very interesting candidate, but he lacks the experience to do much about the governance of the city in the near term.
To repeat, the Madera Tribune Editorial Board choices, so far, are:
(From Saturday’s endorsements)
• Sally Orme Moreno — Madera County District Attorney
• Cece Gallegos — Madera City Council District 1
• Will Oliver — Madera City Council District 3
• Charles Flores Rigby — Madera City Council District 5