LEMOORE – Lemoore voters selected two new council members Tuesday.
In the first election since the City decided on selecting council members my districts rather than city-wide voting, Stuart Lyons and Chad Billingsley were chosen by voters in Districts A and C respectively to represent them.
Lyons, a public safety worker and lifelong resident of Lemoore, has unseated Mayor Ray Madrigal, garnering 58 percent of the 839 votes cast.
In an email response to the Sentinel, Madrigal said he was "disappointed but resigned to the outcome." Madrigal added that he stands behind actions that the Council took that he said have alienated the Volunteer Fire Department — of which Lyons and Billingsley are members — against him.
"I knew full well it would not be politically expedient for me but was necessary to make our city stronger," Madrigal said.
He expressed concern that the election results will not bode well for Police Chief Darrell Smith, saying, "I am not convinced the new council is prepared to take the necessary stand to protect our police chief and his team from the constant unfounded attacks which harm [their] reputation and their safety. I pray time will prove me wrong in this."
Madrigal said he has no plans to run for elected office due to the toll it takes on individuals and their families, but he plans to stay engaged as a member of the public and urges others to do the same.
Lyons, who did not respond for a comment, has been a Lemoore volunteer Firefighter since 2002 in addition to his career with the California Department of Corrections. This will be the 40-year-old’s first position as an elected official.
And while Lyons has unseated the acting mayor, that does not entitle the new councilmember to the title, which is largely ceremonial. Once sworn in in January, council will vote among themselves to name a new mayor.
Madrigal was Lemoore’s mayor for two of his four years on the council.
In District C, Billingsley won with an overwhelming 77 percent of the vote, which he told the Sentinel was “not surprising.”
“It’s been a busy couple of months out there campaigning and now I’m excited to get to work,” he said.
And while there’s still be a few months before the new members of council are sworn in, the 36-year-old Billingsley said that “there’s no reason” why he can’t start now, in terms of learning the ropes and becoming prepared to serve on the council.
The District C seat became up for grabs when Councilman Jeff Chedester announced he would not seek re-election.
Additionally, School Bond Measure D was passed with 59 percent of the needed 55 percent.
The Measure will raise $26 million for Lemoore Union Elementary School District.
The main use for the money will be toward alleviating overcrowding by building a new elementary school.
That money can only be used for facility and modernization improvements and not for teacher or administrative salaries. All funds are spent locally and cannot be taken by the state. Independent citizens’ oversight committees are established to ensure that funds are spent properly within the school district.