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Letters: Is Madera’s democracy under attack?

The passion behind the special Madera City Council District 5 election ignited a variety of responses. On Thursday, October 21, candidate Elsa Mejia publicly denounced the massive, overnight theft and defacing of campaign political signs that she and other voters in District 5 were a victim of. On Wednesday, October 27, City Council District 5 voter, J. Gordon Kennedy claimed canvassers are offering to help him fill out his ballot, which he interpreted as voter fraud.

Residents have seen canvassers from both campaigns walking our streets, yellow shirts for Elsa Mejia, and blue shirts for Matilda Villafan. What is apparent is that the canvassers with yellow shirts are from Madera, if you follow Elsa Mejia’s campaign Facebook page, while canvassers with blue shirts appear to be from other Central Valley communities.

Many of the canvassers pictured on Matilda Villafan’s campaign Facebook page are the same individuals pictured on Valley Forward’s Facebook page and website. According to Valley Forward’s website, their purpose is, “to organize neighborhoods around civic participation by mentoring young leaders to communicate with Valley residents.” Their August 11 Facebook post referenced their students from Selma and Fowler were ready to work on the special election.

Although we should all be excited about the rising civic engagement throughout our Central Valley, we should all be weary of outside interests intervening in our hometown politics. We, Maderans, will be directly affected by the decisions our local elected officials make, not the outside interests that are contributing to the already disillusioned voters of Madera.

Each candidate’s track record should speak for themselves. As a lifelong resident of Madera, I, and many other Maderans who have publicly voiced their support, have witnessed firsthand Elsa’s decade worth of advocacy work serving our community. Unfortunately, we have also witnessed Matilda’s neglect by not attending the two separate debates organized by the Madera Young Professionals on October 20 and the Madera Coalition for Community Justice on October 25.

Democracy works if we all participate and follow the rules. Voters hold a responsibility to ensure their vote does not harm the city we all call home. Together, we can hold our elected officials and candidates to the basic principles and values of decency, honesty, and fair play. Please vote before 8 p.m., Tuesday, November 2, and track your ballot by visiting

— Johanna Torres,

Co-founder of the nonpartisan group Madera Votes,



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