American Legion Post 100 hosts city council candidates' forum as Nov. 6 election day looms

By Ed Martin, Editor
Lemoore Mayor Ray Madrigal chats with Lemoore resident Jerry Welsh after Wednesday night's forum sponsored by the Lemoore American Legion Post 100.
Lemoore Mayor Ray Madrigal chats with Lemoore resident Jerry Welsh after Wednesday night's forum sponsored by the Lemoore American Legion Post 100.

A crowd of about 30 persons, many of them members of Lemoore American Legion Post 100, enjoyed dinner and looked forward to a public forum Wednesday night (Oct. 3) featuring the four candidates running for two seats on the Lemoore City Council.

The election is Nov. 6.

Unfortunately, three of the four candidates weren't there, leaving Mayor Ray Madrigal with the floor – and the microphone – all to himself Wednesday night. But it didn’t seem to bother him as he spoke for about 25 minutes as Legion members and their guests continued dining.

According to American Legion Past Commander Randy McCord, an organizer of Wednesday’s forum, all the candidates were contacted, but only Madrigal appeared. His opponent, Stuart Lyons did not attend, nor – according to McCord – did he respond to the request.

“I was kind of disappointed that they didn’t respond,” said McCord. “This was specifically a public service.”

He said candidate Chad Billingsley, running in District C against Tony Garcia, did respond, indicating he could not attend Wednesday night, but that Billingsley’s opponent, Garcia, had not. The Leader contacted Garcia, and he stated he had not received an email or an invitation to speak to the American Legion.

Some members, while disappointed that three of the four councilmembers weren’t there, seemed impressed with Madrigal, currently, in his first term, his last two spent as the city’s mayor. Jerry Welsh, an American Legion member, was pleased with Madrigal. “He’s got my vote. I just like what he’s doing. I’m from his district, and I think he’s the right man for the job.”

In his talk, Madrigal painted a positive portrait of Lemoore’s future, including highlighting the city’s public safety efforts and the city’s growth. “We have a very safe city,” said the first-term mayor, “and we’ll have to learn to manage it.”

He applauded the Lemoore Police Department for its efforts to keep Lemoore safe and lauded Chief of Police Darrell Smith and his officers for their commitment to foster programs and ideas that make the city a safe, livable community.

“The last couple of years the attitude of our employees has improved considerably,” he said. “Our organization is at a high point, and financially he indicated that things are looking up. “It’s looking like we’re in pretty good shape.”

He warned against overspending and referred to the council’s “Strategic Initiative, a “road map” the city follows to maintain city services, improve public safety, and foster economic development to create a safe and vibrant community.

“It’s a really good road map for us to follow,” Madrigal told the small crowd.

He renewed his call for planned growth, including focusing on the city west of Highway 41, the home of West Hills College Lemoore. “I think we should concentrate on that area. We need to grow if we’re going to survive,” but he added it needs to be strategic, smart growth.  

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