Oakhurst Residents Decide Future of Community

February 5, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
People living in Oakhurst are deciding whether their community should be incorporated, officially becoming a city.The incorporation issue, known as Measure C, has been a source of controversy in Oakhurst for the past several months. And today is appears voters are taking advantage of the chance to have their voices heard by heading to the polls.

Election workers at the Oakhurst Community Center say a steady stream of voters has filled the polling place since the doors opened at 7am. One woman even lined up at 6:30 for her chance to cast a ballot.

Dawn Breitenbucher, Oakhurst Election Worker, says "It's also been where we have people waiting in line at the tables, so it's been I think overly busy."

One big reason for the rush is the controversial Measure C, which would incorporate an area of 13.1 square miles and make Oakhurst its own town with its own five person council.

Supporters say the move would keep tax dollars in the community and give Oakhurst local control rather than relying on Madera County.

Chuck Tresley, Oakhurst resident, says "Madera hasn't done anything for this area except take our money."

But opponents are concerned incorporation will mean increased taxes and more big business. Doug Nelson says he's moving out if Measure C succeeds. "I've already lived in a town that voted yes on incorporation and it was a mess after that," Nelson says.

Election officials say they've already received about 70% of the vote by mail ballots sent to eligible Measure C voters. And they expect high voter turnout for the rest of Madera County as well thanks to the tight presidential primaries and state ballot measures that will impact the valley.

Rebecca Martinez, Madera County Registrar of Voters, says "In March of '04 we had a 54.4% turnout, I think this turnout will be greater than that, so I'm hoping it will be somewhere in the 60's."

Some Merced County voters also have a local issue to consider. Los Banos residents must decide whether to approve a $44 million bond to build a new high school and at least one new elementary school.


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