How do we assess the local election held last week?
Let me run a few things up the flagpole for you:
Roger Orosco, recalled three years ago in a school board purge, is on track to win back his seat as District 3 trustee.
As of Tuesday morning, Orosco was 60 votes ahead of Yvette Montijo — who sought to join the school board after serving a four-year term on the City Council, and 76 up on Regina Pallares. They were running to fill the seat vacated by Montijo’s husband Andy.
(Election results are not yet finalized by Fresno County election officials until all mail-in ballots have been counted. An update is expected this week.)
Colleen Nelson, who was voted off the board of the Selma Health Care District two years ago, is on her way to being voted back on by being second in a five-person race for three seats.
Nelson ran as part of a three-candidate bloc with Andy Montijo and Linda Esquivel. Esquivel is running fourth and Montijo fifth, some 500 and 700 votes, respectively, fewer than Nelson as of Tuesday.
It was an election of family ties, with mixed results.
The sisterhood is prevailing: Sarah Guerra, sister of Health Care board board President Rose Robertson (and sister-in-law/business partner of councilman Scott Robertson), is top vote-getter in the City Council race. And their sister Leticia Gallardo is winning re-election to the Health Care board.
But a power couple — councilwoman Yvette Montijo and school board trustee Andy Montijo — appears to be voted out of power.
Such is the state of politics in Selma, where apparently voters don’t have a problem with multiple family members holding elected positions (unless maybe a married couple?), and they don’t hold grudges against candidates they previously rejected.
Selma voters showed that we can embrace familiar names on our ballots (Orosco, Nelson, Gallardo) as well as newcomers (Guerra, council candidate Johnny Trujillo, District 5 schools candidate Diane Jensen and Health Care board candidate Anthony Herrera).
What does it all mean? I’ll let you try to figure that out. It’s a bit too much for my feeble brain; I’m still trying to keep my fantasy football team above .500.
But allow me to I preach this sermon:
Local government elections are the most important exercise of democracy we have. Selma City Council and school board actions will affect your life more often than most decisions out of Washington, D.C. or Sacramento.
Our City Council determines how Selma operates. Our school board determines how we educate our children. And the people elected to those positions are our neighbors, friends and relatives. We greet them at the supermarket and gas pumps, we worship with them and we cheer their kids’ exploits in school events.
So it behooves us to elect the right folks and then hold them accountable. The next several months will tell us how well we have done that.
Will our new elected officials serve us well, with the welfare of the citizenry and the school kids as their first priority? Or will they lapse into partisan bickering and self-interest? That is the question we ask after every November election.
The follow-up questions: Are we strong enough as an citizenry to overcome elected officials who don’t meet our standards for fair play and due diligence? Can we decide, as an informed electorate, which issues are most important to us and make sure the people we elect understand our priorities?
I have seen Selma rise up in anger when we felt threatened and when we believed the powers-that-be weren’t listening to us. I have seen us champion righteous causes. I have watched as we fund-raise for activities of our churches and children, and give our support for athletics, the arts, parks, health care causes and animal care. I have seen us feed the poor and aid the elderly.
After almost three dozen years here, I still believe in Selma — warts and all. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.
My home here in North Selma is my haven, my sanctuary, my place of refuge. I shop for groceries here, buy and service my cars here, eat in local restaurants, worship in a downtown church. My daughter went through Selma schools.
That is why I voted last week. I voted for people I believed would help keep our town safe, well-run, prosperous and active. I voted for candidates I believed were smart and reasonable.
I will continue to advocate for the issues that interest me — parks, clean and safe streets, recreation, the arts, dining and ... did I mention clean and safe streets? Ultimately, those are the attractions that bring people to a town and keep them here.
But it takes all of us working together to keep our elected officials on the straight and narrow.
The election is over. Now the work begins. KSG: Keep Selma Great
I’ll end with a reminder to our elected officials: Make sure your decisions are made in the best interest of all Selma citizens, from all of our neighborhoods, ethnicities and age groups. Rich, poor and all of us in between.
I would ask that we all heed the words of fictional Los Angeles cop Harry Bosch: “Everybody counts or nobody counts.”