Star endorses Salvador, Wheeler, Hall, and Svanda

May 27, 2014 

Madera County Sheriff

We don't think in the 120-year history of Madera County, there has been an election with as many well-qualified, professional, well-spoken individuals running for the same office.

This is the case with the race between the six men who want to replace retiring John Anderson as the next sheriff of Madera County.

On June 3, the voters of this county have the tough decision to select from the six candidates who have a combined 185 years of law enforcement experience.

A retired CHP officer (Dennis Fairbanks - 40 years) — former sheriff deputy (Frank Gauthier - 15 years), a retired Madera Police Chief (Michael Kime - 45 years), a Fresno Police Department Detective Sergeant (Greg Noll - 29 years), the current undersheriff (Michael Salvador - 26 years) — and the current Chowchilla Police Chief (Jay Varney - 30 years).

All six candidates have the experience in law enforcement, and ideas to take the department to the next level of professionalism and preparedness in the coming years.

After four debates, responses to prepared questions from the Star, and sitting down for interviews with Star reporters and civic leaders, the Star endorses Undersheriff Michael Salvador.

A member of the sheriff's department for 17 years, Salvador has keen insight into the workings of the department and its processes. He has made a commitment to bring a higher level of technology to the department with upgrades to computer equipment and communications.

He will continue the aggressive eradication of illicit marijuana grows in the Sierra National Forest and surrounding area to protect the citizens and the environment.

With his knowledge of the interworkings of the department, Salvador will be ready to move forward with many of his plans the day he takes office.

He's served six years as a trustee for the Madera Unified School District, and is a past vice president and president of the Madera Rotary Club and Kiwanis Club of Greater Madera, respectively, showing his dedication to community service.

District 5 Supervisor

Madera County District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler finishing up his second term on the board that makes weekly decisions and sets policies on matters impacting every citizen in the county, weather they live in the cities of Madera or Chowchilla, or live in the unincorporated areas.

Over the past seven and a half years, Wheeler has worked tirelessly for his constituents of Eastern Madera County. Many projects that have been accomplishments that he has helped move along during his current term including:

Road 200 roadway improvements.

New sheriff office in Oakhurst.

New building at Madera Airport purchased for future sheriff office.

Planning and approval to build new fire stations in Oakhurst, Raymond, North Fork, Bass Lake, and Ahwahnee.

Led effort to allow the Raymond, Ahwahnee and North Fork fire stations to stay open all winter after being closed for two years.

After years of construction and funding delays, assisted with the opening of the Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park.

Led the work to secure the land for a new SPCA facility in Ahwahnee, and active in supporting the fundraising efforts to build it.

Successfully pushed to get permit and mitigation fees reduced for new development to spur new projects.

Acquired a new facility to provide a better location for Social Services and Madera County Public Health in Oakhurst.

Mandated a new attitude at the county staff level to be customer friendly.

Helped negotiate a new solid waste contract saving the residents of the county more than $1 million per year in fees.

Helped secure a grant to help fund the new community room at the Oakhurst Library.

In his previous four-year term on the board, Wheeler established his regular Town Hall Meetings, which he continues to do, giving constituents updates on county plans and projects and an opportunity for public input.

He spends countless hours attending a variety of public meetings and supports a large number of organizations and events in the Mountain Area including the Sierra Senior Center, Vision Academy of the Arts, North Fork Women's Club, Coarsegold Rodeo, FFA, 4-H, Citizens on Patrol, Boys and Girls Scouts, Helping Hands, North Fork Loggers Jamboree, the Oakhurst Community Park, and the Sierra Historic Sites Association, to name a few.

District 5 encompasses about 30% of the 2,500 square miles of Madera County, yet the area is represented by just one supervisor. During a time of fiscal uncertainty and shrinking services, Wheeler has been successful in making sure Eastern Madera County is not overlooked or forgotten. He has gained experience facing tough budget decisions during his first two terms, and we feel he is prepared to continue to make decisions best for Madera County and District 5.

The Sierra Star endorses Wheeler for reelection to his third term.

Other Sierra Star endorsements

Madera County Assessor: Gary L. Svanda

Madera County Auditor-Controller: Marcia Hall

District Attorney

This race, like the sheriff race, is expected to have the top two candidates facing off in November. In this race, there are three candidates: Incumbent Michael Keitz, Oakhurst attorney David Linn and Miranda Neal, an attorney in the county counsel's office.

Linn is the husband of Betty Linn, the Sierra Star's publisher. To avoid the perception of a conflict of interest or favoritism, the Sierra Star is not making an endorsement in the district attorney's race.

County incumbents running unopposed:

Rebecca "Becky" Martinez: Madera County Clerk-Recorder

Tracy Kennedy Desmond: Madera County Tax Collector-Treasurer

Cecilia Massetti: Madera County Superintendent of Schools

Superior Court Judge Ernest Li Calsi

Superior Court Judge Michael Jurkovich

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