It wasn’t until Eileen and I moved to Oakhurst that I had the time and interest to become more actively involved in the political process, especially on a localized level.
It was almost ten years ago in November of 2006 that we left Michigan and headed west, the same week Tom Wheeler was first elected Supervisor in Madera County’s Fifth District.
Beginning his second year of a third term in office, Tom will be holding a Town Hall Meeting tonight from 6 till 8 p.m. at the Oakhurst Community Center. He doesn’t need any help attracting a large turnout, but I thought I would add my own strong endorsement and suggestion to be there. It’s a fine opportunity to become engaged in responsible and accountable democracy in action.
For those not familiar with the format, here’s a brief rundown of what to expect.
Boredom is not on the list. Get there just a bit early. Tom starts right on time and works from a prepared agenda, keeping things moving right along in a concise, speedy, entertaining manner from start to finish. He invites a few additional figures from our community to bring everyone up to date on various projects and events coming our way on the immediate horizon.
Tonight we’ll meet Denise Tolmie, a new District Ranger with the U.S. Forest Service and hear from our old friend, Darin Soukup, formerly Executive Director of the Oakhurst Chamber of Commerce and now Director of the Oakhurst College Center.
Michael Baird of Oakhurst Community Alliance will discuss the Community Disaster Relief Fund, followed by Madera County Transit Manager Jerome Jackson with an update on community connections. Dexter Marr of Environmental Health will briefly address onsite wastewater treatment and Troy Cheek, Battalion Chief of Madera County Cal Fire, will present his latest projections for 2016. Despite recent, widely welcomed precipitation, the drought is far from over.
Then Supervisor Wheeler and other county staff members and officials will discuss county and district issues – with questions and comments from the audience enthusiastically encouraged. It’s a wide-open forum. Such interactivity with Tom and everyone involved is really what sets these get-togethers apart from other assemblies of a similar, but significantly less participatory nature.
What’s happening with Chukchansi now that the casino is once again open? What’s the deal on those new motels on 41 across from The Oak Room? How about that 670-acre open pit rock quarry at the corner of highways 41 and 145 proposed by Vulcan Materials?
Tom Wheeler’s Town Hall meetings are your best opportunity to find out first hand what’s happening in and around Eastern Madera County.
Citizen involvement is crucial to American democracy. While national and state issues and our influence upon them remain separated from us by definition and distance, your chance to become a “high information voter” locally is only minutes away this very night at the Community Center. It’s a two-way deal.
Representative government requires ongoing dialogue between the elected and actively concerned constituents. Successful governance is never automatic. Success requires days and weeks and months of hard work. It surely doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Supervisor Wheeler holds these Town Hall exercises to inform, but even more importantly -- to be informed. He listens. And learns. Then more effectively leads.
We’re fortunate to enjoy Tom’s ubiquitous community presence, proven dedication and fierce devotion to the duties of office.
If Supervisor Wheeler might find such public praise the source of personal embarrassment, as I fear he might, I herein apologize for such discomfort. But in an age dominated by negativity, I truly believe positive press should be given when energetically earned, consistently evidenced and thoroughly merited.
Good guys usually finish first, bringing the rest of us along for the ride.
Thank you, Tom.