Letters: Mejia is fit to represent District 5

A special election will be held on Nov. 2, 2021, to fill the nearly year-long vacancy in District 5, and Elsa Mejia is the best suited candidate to represent this district. Here’s why. Unique to Elsa is her ability not only to understand and relate to the experiences of indigenous people, like herself, but her keen capacity to collaborate with others from different backgrounds and all walks of life.


The daughter of hardworking immigrant farmworkers from Oaxaca, Mexico, Elsa acquired her people-centered leadership through extensive years of volunteering, her professional experience and the values her family instilled in her. As a former journalist for The Madera Tribune, she listened to the stories of all Maderans and used her skills to help uplift their voices. Her passion for objective and impartial news allowed her to meet, listen to, understand and deliver on the diverse perspectives in Madera.


In a similar spirit, she is an independent candidate because she knows that when it comes to public matters in this nonpartisan municipal office, we must all work together, listen to all perspectives, and, ultimately, do what is in the best interest of all the people in Madera.


Elsa’s platform and professional endeavors demonstrate that she not only has the ability, but the drive to work for an economy that works for all Maderans by supporting new good paying jobs and small business owners.


Elsa will also work for a city government all residents in District 5 can access and trust. Elsa knows and understands that there is a homeless crisis. Her experience in collaborating with stakeholders will help her take a comprehensive and humane approach to address this issue.


As the granddaughter of a Bracero, and now a proud union member who has been involved in social justice causes locally, statewide and internationally, Elsa understands the issues. Her knowledge and years of experience working on issues impacting marginalized and underrepresented communities have helped prepare her for this role.


Recent census shows Madera County has a total population of 156,255 and 59.6 percent identified as Latino. Based on a study conducted in 2016 by the University of Southern California and Mexican Research Institute El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, we know that the “CA Central Valley is home to about 350,000 Indigenous Oaxacans, who are primarily concentrated in the Central Valley, and the southern portion of the state.”


Madera has long been home to people from the Mixteco, Zapoteco, Triqui and other indigenous communities. In several instances, more than 50% of Oaxacan towns’ population have lived here since the early 1980’s, and there are times when their small towns’ population is greater here than back in Oaxaca. What is surprising is that although we have been establishing our roots in what we now call home for nearly half a century, the Oaxacan population does not have political representation.


Madera has had Latino elected officials that do represent a large population. However, it is important to note that many Oaxaqueños do not necessarily identify as Latinx. The Oaxacan community has a unique experience, such as our deep rooted indigenous background and the continuous practice of our culture, traditions and way of organizing. There is a growing educated population that are bicultural and are mindful and open to collaborate with all communities. Yet, despite our undeniable presence and way of organizing around hometown associations that are active in the community, we have not been invited to the decision making table.


We do not have representation in the decision making of the city where we are raising our families, providing our labor, investing in businesses, homes and paying our fair share of taxes. In a representative democracy, it is key for its citizens to have the option in electing someone that not only looks like them, but also shares their beliefs and values, someone that represents, understands, and uplifts their culture.


It is time for the Madera City Council to be truly representative of the growing Oaxacan population. For far too long we have been sidelined and overlooked; we are one of the most marginalized communities when it comes to access to housing, healthcare, quality jobs, education just to mention a few. It is important to elect someone with a record of grassroots community involvement, a record of commitment in engaging the unrepresented, and the qualifications to work for all Maderans.


— Minerva Mendoza and Jose Eduardo Chavez