Making history in Madera if Measure E passes

MADERA, California

Since the city of Madera was founded in 1907, voters have always elected five city council members who can live anywhere in the city. Those council members then appoint one another mayor for one year at a time. But now, that could all change if Measure E passes.

Richard Denhalter said, "We would have six districts and an at large mayor, which would be a major change for the city."

The proposed districts are divided based on population and registered voters and would be adjusted based on the 2010 Census. A mayor from any of the districts would also be elected to a four year term.

The idea for the change came from a citizen's advisory group that helped develop a plan for the future of Madera. Rosanne Bonilla is part of that group and says the districts would help residents in all parts of the city be better represented by their elected officials.

"We have a lot of growth in our community and we just want people to know what they're representing," said Bonilla.

City attorney Richard Denhalter says another goal of the measure is to get Madera's Hispanic majority more involved in city government. He says there has not been much opposition to the proposal, but some residents don't seem to think it's necessary.

"Some people I think feel that the way we've done it all along is good enough and when someone is elected at large they represent the whole city so we don't have factions or neighborhood disputes occurring in the political process."

Longtime resident Nora Salazar, who's also Roseanne's mother, supports the idea of districts but says it's important to have candidates who know and care about their parts of the city.

"I just hope that we have the right people running for the area they represent who know what's going on and be involved in whatever their little section is involved with," Salazar said.

If the measure passes, it would be implemented over four years to allow officials to finish their current terms.

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