MABTON - Ten-year Mabton City Council veteran Velva Herrera drew the majority of the votes cast in the Primary Election Mabton mayor's race yesterday.
She advances to November's General Election, where she will face political newcomer Jaime Alaniz, who finished second yesterday with 30.1 percent of the votes cast.
Eliminated from the race was incumbent Mayor David Conradt, who drew just 17.3 percent of the total 156 votes cast.
Conradt is completing his first four-year term as mayor of Mabton. Previously, he served a four-year term as a Mabton councilman.
In seeking re-election, Conradt - a controller for Grandview's Wyckoff Farms - had said that finding new funding sources for the city treasury was a challenge, but one that he had been looking forward to tackling. Conradt pointed with pride to the completion of the recent sewer system upgrades that had been made on his watch, and noted he was also proud that Mabton had added new playground equipment in the community's three parks.
Mabton voters, though, have elected to go forward in a new direction.
And it appears that Herrera, at least for now, is the favorite to take over the mayor's seat. She collected 52.5 percent of the votes cast, 82 of 156 total votes.
Promoting change in the community, Herrera said she feels she's the best person to make that happen.
"I feel the time I've invested in the community, listening to the concerns and problems facing the citizens, is time well spent," Herrera said shortly before the Primary Election ballots were mailed out to local voters. She added that as a council member she has worked for change, but feels she can help accomplish change even more as mayor of the community.
"I want to find resolutions to the many issues facing our community," said Herrera, a care giver for the Sunnyside Group Home.
Those issues, Herrera added, include involving the young residents of Mabton in city government and giving them something to do with their idle time, creating an open door policy that makes city hall more receptive to local residents' concerns, adopting a community-wide beautification effort, expanding the police force and including local citizens in being part of the revitalization of the community.
Alaniz, second behind Herrera's 82 votes with 47 votes cast for him, is vying for his first ever elected position.
Like Herrera, he is seeking to aid local residents become more involved in their community.
"As mayor, I'd work to find ways to bring more programs to the community for our youth and for the rest of the community," Alaniz said prior to the Primary Election.
Nearly a life-long Mabton resident, Alaniz said it is the mayor's job to get the citizens more involved in improving the community.
Alaniz cited a lack of communication between city government and the private sector. "I think we have to find a way to let people know what is going on ahead of time," he said. Alaniz said Mabton's city council needs to be more receptive to those residents who take the time to show up for council meetings.
"It always seems like the council doesn't want to hear what the citizens have to say," said Alaniz.
In terms of what needs to be addressed in the community, Alaniz said the steep water, sewer and garbage rates concern him, and he sees a need for more street lighting in the community, as well as a need to take on a community-wide clean-up effort. Alaniz said if elected, he also wants to look into what can be done to help draw more businesses to Mabton.