SELMA — Selma’s City Council will have a new look beginning in 2021.
Just how new depends on the outcome of two races on the Nov. 3 ballot, when Selma’s voters will elect Council members from two of the four districts have been created.
The Council is certain to have one new member. Beverly Cho and Lori Perez are vying for the seat from District 4, roughly the southern part of Selma. That winner will join Sarah Guerra as a second woman on the five-member panel.
In District 1, the northwest part of town, veteran Councilman Jim Avalos is running for re-election. He faces two challengers, Mark Medina and Blanca Mendoza-Navarro.
Councilman Scott Robertson and Mayor Louis Franco are running for Mayor. The loser of that race will be off the City Council.
A wrinkle in this first-time district election is the presence on the ballot of Measure E. If passed, it would repeal the current four-district/mayor plan and implement a five-district plan.
Cho, a lifelong Selma resident and restaurant owner, has been active in the Lioness Lion’s Club, Kiwanis, Selma Women’s Club and the Chamber of Commerce and served on the Parks and Recreation Commission. She believes the council “ ... might need a fresh pair of eyes to look at the solutions to Selma’s future”
“I am a hard worker so if I believe in something, I will do my best. I’m hopeful for a united council.’
As the owner of a downtown restaurant, Cho is a proponent of growth through affordable housing and business attraction/retention. “Trying to keep our old businesses alive and try to get new ones into our area,” she said.
“Revitalize downtown, do something that all Selma can be proud of. Our downtown businesses need to feel that they are part of this community.”
She is in favor of the four-district plan that includes election of Mayor. “I like the idea of voting for our Mayor,” she said. “That should be a respected position. To run would show the person really cares about our town.”
Perez, a retired Selma Unified employee, now works in home care. She is a 68-year resident of Selma and has been involved in Selma Cancer Support and Relay for Life.
Her motivation for seeking a seat on the Council involves public safety issues.
“I’m running because I don't feel safe in my neighborhood because of shootings we've had. I want safer neighborhoods and a safer community.
“I will work very hard to get more police officers hired to patrol our streets to keep our community safe. The biggest issue in Selma is the homeless, with all the encampments being setup all over our community.”
She also favors having the Mayor elected by the voters.
In District 1, Avalos is a veteran of the council since 2004 and is a past Mayor. Retired from the retail grocery business, he has lived in or near Selma his entire life.
As a 16-year City Councilman, he touts his experience working on Selma’s account with county, state and federal agencies. He also said he has been active in Knights of Columbus, Selma Lions Club, Boy Scouts and Fresno Fair Museum.
Avalos believes the No. 1 priority is helping Selma survive through the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“We need to do everything we can to protect our citizens, but at the same time help our small businesses and try to get our schools opened up safely,” he said.
“You need experienced people in government offices to get past these hard times.”
He cited several apartment and housing projects as well as commercial business that have set up in Selma.
Navarro has lived in Selma for more than 40 years and is a Selma High graduate. She has worked for 21 years for the Fresno City Housing Authority where she is a Quality Assurance Manager.
Her involvements include Selma Catholic Women’s League and coordinator for confirmation classes at St. Joseph’s Church.
Navarro said her main interests for running are to further Selma’s growth.
“Selma has been stagnant for a long time,” she said. “I feel there is a bottleneck somewhere in our system that is preventing growth.
“Infrastructure is one of the biggest issues. Without the proper infrastructure we cannot sustain the growth that is needed.”
Navarro said public safety also is a priority, and she believes a task force is needed to deal with homelessness in Selma.
On the issue of Council Districting, Navarro said, “I prefer the 5-District system. This this would give every area fair representation as each member would live in the District they are elected for and represent.”
Medina, a lifelong resident of Selma, owns a photography studio and also works as an IT professional. He has volunteered at Selma’s animal shelter, Boys and Girls Clubs, Kiwanis and Face of Cancer.
He believes public safety is the biggest issue in Selma and he proposes setting up substations in Selma’s neighborhoods.
“My plan is to work with our police department, commercial property owners and non-profits to create satellite police precincts,” he explained.
He also is concerned about economic growth. “Selma is a crossroads. Over the last few decades not much has been done to grow Selma’s business ecology and economy. Selma has lost many opportunities and is filled with empty store fronts and empty lots.
“We need to actively search for businesses that will complement our current business ecology and aggressively entice brands to locate here.”
Medina is in favor of the four-district plan that allows Selma citizens to vote for Mayor citywide. “I believe that the community of Selma should elect their Mayor,” he said. “The position of mayor is more than a title, it is the face of Selma.”
City council members serve for four years.
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