Madera county awaits governor's appointment

Government: Max Rodriguez is new board chairman

Brian WilkinsonJanuary 10, 2013 

Former Madera County Supervisor Frank Bigelow has taken the oath of office as the new representative for the 5th Assembly District in Sacramento. Meanwhile, Madera County awaits Governor Jerry Brown's appointment of Bigelow's District 1 successor who will complete the two years remaining on Bigelow's term.

Evan Westrup, spokesman for Brown, said the governor is in the process of considering the candidates who have submitted appointment applications.

Although there is no deadline for the appointment, Westrup said the governor hopes to move forward as quickly as possible to fill the position with the right person -- a person with the skills, qualifications and commitment to Madera County.

"We all sit here anxiously waiting for news from the governor's office but haven't heard much at all other than a rumor that he will likely make the appointment by mid January," said Eric Fleming, county chief administrative officer. "Meanwhile, votes such as budgetary items that require a 4/5ths majority will be even more challenging because they will require full support of the current four-member board."

If any agenda item receives a 2-2 vote, the item will be held over until the new District 2 supervisor joins the board.

Fleming said the new appointee will have to hit the ground running because District 1 has a very engaged constituency and the county delivers just about every county service possible to the district since the district is totally unincorporated.

"There are also some very significant projects under development in that district," Fleming said.

On Tuesday, Madera businessman Rick Farinelli, 61, took the oath of office as the county's newly elected District 3 supervisor. He replaces Ronn Dominici, who did not seek re-election after 12 years on the board.

"It has been an honor to represent the people of Madera County for the last 12 years," Dominici said. "This is my home. I was born and raised here and serving on the board of supervisors was about helping the community I have called home my entire life. I will miss the job and the great people I had the pleasure of working with."

Farinelli will join David Rogers (District 2), Max Rodriguez (District 4) and Tom Wheeler (District 5) on the board.

Rodriguez was sworn in Tuesday as this year's chairman of the board and North Fork's Wheeler was sworn in as vice-chair.

Farinelli could not be declared the winner the night of the Nov. 6 election since he had just eight votes more than his opponent Gary Svanda. The Madera County Elections Department had 28 days to complete the official election canvass due to uncounted vote by mail ballots as well as a number of provisional ballots.

After the canvass, Farinelli was declared the winner.

Farinelli said his priorities are public safety, a leaner government and the privatizing of some county services. He also wants to encourage evening board meetings once a month so more working people can attend.

Rodriguez said he is honored to serve as the new board chairman.

"It is indeed an honor and a privilege to serve Madera County as board chairman," Rodriguez said after the ceremony. "This morning we said good-bye to our fellow supervisor and friend Ronn Dominici. Ronn leaves big shoes to fill but I am confident our board will continue to successfully lead Madera County. I am excited about what the next 12 months will bring. This will be my ninth year serving as a supervisor, and although we have faced our share of challenges -- we have been abundantly blessed with many wonderful opportunities. I am confident that our future continues to be very bright in Madera County."

Bigelow appointed committee vice-chair

While Madera County awaits Brown's District 1 supervisor appointment announcement, Bigelow, who defeated fellow Republican Rico Oller in the Nov. 6 election, was appointed Jan. 4 vice-chairman of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez Jan.

"It's an honor to have been appointed to serve as the Vice Chairman of the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee," Bigelow said. "I look forward to working with Chairman Hueso and the entire committee to tackle the state's complex water issues and am eager to get started crafting solutions for our state's future."

Bigelow said he feels privileged to be sworn in as a representative for Central California's rural communities in the State Assembly.

"With my experience in the private sector and my time on the Madera County Board of Supervisors, I'm eager to fight for more accountability of tax dollars in Sacramento and push for sensible reforms that will bring jobs back to our region and state," Bigelow said.

As vice chairman of the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, Bigelow said he will work to achieve bipartisan solutions to the critical issues facing the committee, while continuing to defend the interests of local taxpayers.

"Water resources, flood management, fish and game, parks and recreation, and wildlife are critical to the people of rural California," Bigelow said.

In addition, Bigelow will serve on the Appropriations, Governmental Organization, Natural Resources and Rules Committees.

"Frank Bigelow understands that solving California's water crisis is about more than ensuring clean water comes out of the tap each morning. It's also about jobs for millions of people and the economic health of our state, and protecting water rights. As vice chair of the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, he will play an important role in responsibly planning our state's water future," said Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, of Tulare.

After his election to the Madera County Board of Supervisors, Bigelow worked with other members to reform local agencies and build a budget surplus. He also continues to serve as a volunteer firefighter and has been involved with the Madera District Fair board, the Madera County Cattlemen's Association and local chapters of 4-H and Future Farmers of America.

"I'm committed to the people of rural California and improving the economy throughout the state," Bigelow said. "While we've been through difficult days in the past few years, I'm optimistic that California's best days are in front of us."

Bigelow represents the new 5th Assembly District, which encompasses Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Madera, Mariposa, Mono and Tuolumne counties and includes Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park.

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