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Election’s importance for Madera

This year’s General Election is important for more than the usual reasons. We are seeing a level of public interest on the part of the usually lethargic Madera County electorate that we haven’t seen for years.

Some examples:

• There are challengers for every open Madera City Council seat, a phenomenon we haven’t seen in several election cycles.

• A sitting district attorney is not defending his seat, having been defeated in the June primary, and the two remaining hopefuls for that office both work or have worked as ranking assistants in that sometimes chaotic office.

• Challengers have emerged in the two open school board positions, one of whom would fill the chair of three-term school board president Al Galvez, who resigned unexpectedly to help care for an ailing family member.

• The Madera Unified School District is seeking to raise $120 million through Measure M, a bond issue to provide money to build new schools, and remodel and re-equip old ones.

• Republican Rob Poythress, a member of the Madera County Board of Supervisors, is seeking the District 12 state Senate seat soon to be vacated by State Sen. Anthony Cannella, also a Republican. Poythress is a banker, business owner and farmer, and was the first at-large mayor of Madera.

His opponent is Anna Caballero, a member of the Assembly representing the 30th District. She is a Democrat, an attorney and a former mayor of Salinas.

• In the 16th Congressional District, longtime member of Congress Jim Costa, a Democrat, is facing Elizabeth Heng, a Republican who has strong support in her party and good backing among GOP regulars who think she might have a chance of turning Costa out of office.

• In California Assembly District 5, Republican two-term incumbent Frank Bigelow is being challenged by Democrat Carla J. Neal.

• Voters also will have to decide on several statewide ballot propositions. To examine these and other candidates and issues, the Madera Tribune assembled an editorial endorsement board made up of local leaders who are familiar with the candidates and the issues they face. They are a mixture of Republicans and Democrats, some who have been both over the years.

TODAY WE WILL start endorsements with the race for DISTRICT ATTORNEY. Contenders are Sally Orme Moreno and Paul Hornick.

Moreno, 50, is the most experienced of the two, having served in district attorney offices in Merced, Madera and Fresno. She worked for Michael Keitz when he was district attorney, then later worked briefly for his successor, David Linn. She left Linn’s office after a few months to join the Fresno County DA’s office. Her total time as a prosecutor has been about 20 years, but she has never been a DA. She is a former Army military police officer, and resides in Madera County.

Hornick, 40, who also lives in Madera County, worked for Linn, and launched a challenge against Linn last year. Hornick has been a prosecutor for about seven years, four of them in Florida. He also was an active Army officer in the Transportation Corps, and eventually joined the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He is a member of the Army Reserves, and holds the rank of major.

Both candidates have pledged to reform the DA’s office, which has been described as chaotic and poorly managed under the last two district attorneys.

OUR CHOICE: MORENO. Moreno has the advantage in that she is a more experienced attorney, and has worked in more than one district attorney’s office in the valley, and has seen various styles of attorney office management, has conducted more trials and knows what will work and what doesn’t. As a more mature attorney, she likely would be a good resource for the younger attorneys who work in the DA’s office, and likely would be a good case manager.

Also, we expect that this year the Grand Jury will take a close look at some city and county departments, and may need help from a savvy prosecutor who doesn’t mind helping ferret out misfeasance and malfeasance in office on the part of elected and hired officials who may have gone too long without a close look being taken at how they run their offices. Moreno is most likely to have the knowledge to handle this not always pleasant chore.

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NEXT WEDNESDAY, we will take a look at City Council races, the School Board, and the State Senate.

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