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Rural Madera County voters reject proposed sales tax bump

Semi-official results for Madera County's special election today show rural voters rejecting a proposed public safety sales tax by a healthy margin.

Measure L naysayers held 56 percent of the vote while supporters sat at 44 percent tonight once all precincts had reported in around 10 p.m.

A total of 8,538 absentee and 1,743 precinct ballots were cast today, which amounts to 29.5 percent of the 17,986 voters registered at the participating precincts. Only citizens living in unincorporated areas of Madera County took part in this election.

If passed, Measure L would have enacted a one percent public safety sales tax in rural Madera County to pay for improvements to firefighting services, raising the quantity of paid and volunteer firefighters as well as sheriff deputies, and upgrade instructional and training services for those volunteers. The funds raised would have been under citizen oversight and publicly audited each year for 20 years.

Madera County Supervisor Tom Wheeler, District 5, and Sheriff Jay Varney were public supporters of the measure, which was promoted in public safety forums, online via a website and in paid commercials. Publicly against the sales tax hike were the Republican Party of Madera County and rural residents who created their own website opposing the measure.

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