Madera Mayor Robert Poythress unseated incumbent Rick Farinelli in the race for District 3 supervisor in Madera County.
With all 15 precincts reporting, Poythress had 61.6 percent of votes to Farinelli’s 38 percent.
Farinelli was seeking his second term, while Poythress is finishing his third and final term on the Madera City Council.
Poythress said his victory came as a surprise.
“You never know how these things will turn out, when there’s no polling that’s done, or in our case, when it’s too expensive for our budget,” Poythress said. “You just do your best, get marketing out there, meet people, knock on doors, and wait to hear answers. I was pleasantly surprised – I thought I had a good shot, but I sure didn’t know it was going to be such a healthy margin.”
Poythress attributed his success to his team of campaign supporters, as well as his mayoral and City Council experience. He said his campaign knocked on more than 1,300 doors and talked to about 60 percent of the people in the district. The city’s successful efforts in law enforcement and economic development translated to votes for Poythress, he believes.
His first action as county supervisor will be to take down the sign that reserves his parking spot.
“I think the best parking places should be for citizens or employees,” he said. “So the first thing I will do is take away my designated parking place. I know it’s a small thing, but I think it speaks volumes.”
On a larger scale, Poythress wants to start planning for land development in the county. He will focus on considering the implications before moving forward with projects.
“We’ve only got so much land, and we need to be good stewards in planning to make sure we can maintain our agriculture base and have housing for folks,” Poythress said. “The projects will be better planned as opposed to haphazardly enacted.”
Since District 3 encompasses the city of Madera, both Poythress and Farinelli have dealt with similar issues, chief of which are Madera’s poverty and stagnant economic development. But the election drew out the diametric opposition between Farinelli and Poythress. For example, Farinelli endorsed the Mono Indian Tribe’s memorandum to build a casino whenever the tribe needed to demonstrate local support for the business venture. Poythress, concerned with the problem of gambling issues, has consistently opposed the casino on moral grounds. The Madera County Economic Development Commission is on record as supporting the tribe and its efforts.
Farinelli, 65, could not be reached for comment on the election.
He took office in 2012. Before that, he worked at Georgia-Pacific, which manufactures paper products, for 30 years. A Navy veteran, he started his own paper company after retiring from Georgia-Pacific.
Farinelli serves on more than 40 boards and committees in the county.
Poythress, 60, has been on the Madera City Council since 2004 and became the city’s first elected mayor in 2012. He has worked in banking most of his life.
Madera City Council
The race for a seat on the City Council District 1 seat also was clear.
Cece Foley Gallegos garnered 67.7 percent of the votes to Khubaib “Bobby” Sheikh’s 31.8.
Gallegos is an educator, and Sheikh is a business owner and pharmacy technician.