Tulare City Council met Tuesday night to appoint newly elected Terry Sayre and Dennis Mederos to the council as David Macedo and Maritsa Castellanoz stepped down. Following their taking the oath of office, Jose Sigala and Dennis Mederos were voted in as Mayor and Vice Mayor of Tulare by the new council.
Former Mayor Macedo said goodbye to a 20-year career serving on the council and expressed how honored he felt to serve the city of Tulare and it’s citizens. He told the council to remember to focus on the good in the city, stating that for every negative news story there are a million positive ones happening every day. Although he is stepping down from the council as mayor, he said his public service would not end:
“This is the last of my elected service, but it is not the last of my public service to the citizens of Tulare. I will be there as long as God allows me to breathe.”
Castellanoz said she’s at peace with not running again and doesn’t believe there’s anyone else better than Sayre to take her seat. She gave an emotional goodbye as she said thanks to her supporters.
“Thank you to my family for guiding me when things got rough. Thank you to my pastor. Thank you for your prayers. And last not but not least, I want to say thank you to my dad. He’s in heaven, but I hope I made him proud.”
As Sayer and Mederos took their seats, Council Member Carlton Jones urged the new council to speak their mind, to stay true to their conscience, and leave their personal relationships outside of the council and put the city first.
Sayer thanked Jones for his words of wisdom and shared how her core values would guide her as councilwoman. “My spirit is one of love, one of collaboration, is one of courage, and is one seeing and seizing opportunity to make our city the best it can possibly be. That is my mantra and it will be for the entire time that I serve.”
Mederos expressed his understanding of the amount of teamwork a successful city council requires and emphasized any accomplishment made by the council would be a result of working together. “My attitude is that hopefully we’ll do what’s best for the city of Tulare and that’s what we’ll strive to achieve.”
The council then moved on to elect a new mayor and vice mayor.
Jones began by warning of the decisive nature that the mayor position can have and hoped it would not get in the way of making decisions that required collaborative efforts among the council. He then followed by nominating Council Member Greg Nunley for the mayor’s seat, stating that he considered himself and Nunley as “seniors” and the newly elected council members as “freshmen.”
No one on the council supported the nomination and a long silence hung over the room until newly elected Mederos addressed Nunley directly.
“There’s only one reason I didn’t second that motion. It’s got nothing to do with you personally. I think realistically–unfortunately, whether it’s fair or unfair, having the litigation against you just doesn’t coincide with you being mayor…That’s difficult to say, but I wanted to be up front and transparent with you.”
The litigation Mederos spoke of was regarding a lawsuit filed against Tulare by Michael Lampe. According to Dave Adalian of the Voice,
“The new claim of fraud involves the accusation Nunley falsely claimed ownership of his associates’ property to avoid paying overdue fees to the city. Lampe also says Nunley committed the alleged fraud without the knowledge of his former partners and associates. In their statements, Nunley’s one-time associates say the councilman falsely claimed ownership of their properties in order to put off payment of the $474,987 in property development impact fees still owed to the city. ”
Mederos then went on to nominate Sigala for the mayor’s seat. Jones and Nunley strongly opposed the nomination.
Though Nunley was quick to vote no, he did not express why he opposed Sigala as mayor.
Jones however described Sigala as “Joker” to his “Batman” or “Lex Luther” to his “Superman.” He followed up with how he has been an athlete his whole life and described the new council members as “freshmen” and Nunley as a “senior”.
But the new majority voted in favor of the motion, and along with it, made a little history.
Sigala will be Tulare’s first Latino mayor.
Sigala immediately followed his appointment by nominating Mederos for the vice mayor seat.
The crowd’s reaction to the newly appointed mayor and vice mayor was difficult to gauge immediately after the vote.
“Sigala is gonna be good and I think Dennis is gonna be good,” Janet LeBaron said. “We also agree that Greg Nunley, because of the litigation stuff going on, things have got to get resolved. It’s not just seniority. You’ve got to have every aspect of it taken into consideration.”
Don LeBaron agreed, but also mentioned his disappointment surrounding those who opposed the nomination. “For council people to sit up there and say we’ve got to work together for the benefit of the community and then say ‘no’ on every nomination…I don’t like it.”
Euler Torres, co-owner of Tulare’s Roox Agency, was more excited about the election of Sigala and what it represents for the Latino community. “We’re very happy to have our first Latino mayor for the city of Tulare. We think this is a good change that our voice matters and that La Raza does have a voice in this town.”