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Mabton mayor's race draws four candidates

MABTON - With budget and financial record keeping issues at hand, a big job awaits the eventual winner of the race for Mabton Mayor in this fall's election.

First, though, voters will need to whittle a field of four candidates down to two in the Aug. 18 primary.

In alphabetical order they are:

Vanessa Cervantes said she is seeking the office of mayor as an extension of her involvement in the Mabton community.

"You can't stand on the sidelines," she said.

As for getting a handle on the city's financial struggles, which have included audit findings and limited police coverage, Cervantes said her first action if elected mayor would be to have a review conducted of Mabton's books.

"You can't take any steps until you know where you are," she said.

Once the city finds its financial footing, she said it would be a priority to return 24-hour police coverage to the city's streets.

Cervantes says she has fiscal experience as a secretary at Artz-Fox Elementary School and in her volunteer efforts with seniors, the National Night Out program and a Lions club that used to meet in Mabton.

"I am very familiar with public funds," says Cervantes, a life-long Mabton resident.

Cervantes also said if elected she would bring a team-building approach to city government, listening to the opinions of council members and community members.

Cervantes said her strongest attributes that voters should consider are her proven leadership skills and her life-long knowledge of the community.

Incumbent Mayor Velva Herrera did not reply to several messages that were left seeking her participation in this story.

Daniel Jun has lived in Mabton for about three years and has a sister who has lived in the community for the past 17 years.

Jun runs an import and export business and is semi-retired after a career in the telecommunications field.

Jun says he could put his 35 years of business experience to work for Mabton, in trying to attract growth to help address the city's financial problems.

"You have to have a good budget plan," he said in pointing to a $500,000 city budget shortfall. "It's just like a personal budget, you can't use money you don't have."

With his experience as a general contractor, Jun says he is familiar in working with city staff and within city codes.

"I could see a lot of good potential," he said. "We have a lot of unused land that could be used for business." That in turn, Jun adds, would help the city's fiscal base.

He also proposes seeking state and federal grants to help Mabton's business community.

A former applicant for the Mabton city treasurer position, Jun says citizens need to be more involved in decision making.

"Instead of one person's ideas we could have 10, 20, 40 or more," he said.

Angel Reyna, the city's mayor pro tem, is familiar with the issues facing Mabton.

His top two priorities if elected Mayor would be safety and to "wade through the current budget situation."

As for that first priority, safety, Reyna envisions a gradual return to 24-hour police coverage. "I could see us hiring substitute coverage early next year," he said.

With the city budget a hot button issue this year, Reyna - a Workforce education director based at YVCC - says he has experience in sticking to a budget of public funds.

"The budget I oversee is bigger than the city of Mabton's" Reyna said. "My job as a director and the position of mayor have a lot of similarities."

As for economic progress, Reyna says in his director position he has experience working with New Vision, an entity that works with communities to encourage business growth.

Reyna said he is seeking the office of mayor because "I lived there all my life and I'm interested in seeing Mabton move forward for our children's future."

If elected, Reyna said he has worked it out with Workforce to spend more time in the Lower Valley at YVCC's Grandview campus. "My supervisor has allowed me to have flexibility," he said.

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