Robert Poythress, who spent six years as the mayor of Madera and a total of 12 years on its City Council, has notable aspirations for his new position as a Madera County supervisor.
After he was sworn in Jan. 3 as supervisor of District 3, replacing Rick Farinelli who he beat in last November’s election, Poythress said his primary goal is to bring city and county governments together for the betterment of the entire area. And since he’s had experience with city government, he said he can help act as a kind of bridge between the two.
“I would say what’s always been a challenge between cities and counties is getting both sides to agree on things like tax sharing agreements and land use,” Poythress said. “We need to learn to work better together in order to work these sorts of things out for the sake of our citizens ... I mean what citizens want is good services and good public safety, and we need to realize that’s the end game. There’s win win situations when the city and county work together, rather than I win, you lose ones.”
Poythress said as part of that goal, he’s focused on four priorities: creating a plan for the county’s future, similar to the Vision 2025 program in the city; improvements to public safety; a groundwater plan to meet the state’s incoming regulations for water use; and strengthening the county’s economy with both large and small-scale projects.
He said on the broader scale, he wants to have input on the delayed plans of the North Fork Rancheria to build a casino - a location he has previously opposed on moral grounds - or the push for a high-speed rail maintenance facility in Madera. But beyond those larger projects, he said, was a need for renewed concentration on small businesses.
“I think we need to focus on going for singles rather than the grand slams sometimes,” Poythress said. “For example, we can build business parks, and encourage these smaller companies to come in by putting in housing developments and other things which will be attractive due to our lower housing costs and centralized location.”
District 3 largely covers the western side of the City of Madera, but Poythress said he didn’t want to ignore places like Eastern Madera County or the Madera Ranchos.
“I’m used to looking at a jurisdiction as one place,” Poythress said. “In the City of Madera, I didn’t care if a project or something was going on in the northeast part of town, or the southwest part, they were equally important to me. I look at it the same way in the county. Having a strong Madera Ranchos, or Oakhurst, places like that, are important to our economy. I’m very concerned about those particular areas as much as I am right here in the city.”
“We can’t ignore any one part of the county and not allow it to get the attention it needs,” Poythress continued. “We need to keep that balance, and pay attention to our whole county, and do what’s best for everyone.”
Poythress works as manager of Citizens Business Bank in Madera.
Farinelli said he was proud of what he helped accomplish in his four years on the board, including the county’s improved credit rating from Standard & Poor’s and its work on housing and business projects such as the Riverstone development under construction near Avenue 12 and Highway 41.
“Being a supervisor was a challenge, and I don’t think I’ll run again,” Farinelli said. “I think in my four years, I did everything I promised and I kept my promises.”
A Navy veteran and longtime supporter of improving youth services in Madera County, Farinelli said he’d continue his work with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Madera County’s Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program, and his Gang Intervention Task Force.
Farinelli said he wishes Poythress well on the new job.
“I told everybody if I had to be replaced, I was happy Rob was the one to do it,” Farinelli said.
The Madera County Board of Supervisors consists of: Brett Frazier in District 1 (Madera Ranchos); David Rogers in District 2 (Chowchilla); Robert Poythress in District 3 (City of Madera, western side); Max Rodriguez in District 4 (City of Madera, eastern side); and Tom Wheeler in District 5 (Eastern Madera County).