State

Madueño eyes mayor’s seat in Riverbank

RIVERBANK -- For the second time in a year, former Councilwoman Virginia Madueño could be making a run for mayor. Madueño, 43, pulled papers Wednesday to sign up as a candidate in the Nov. 3 mayoral election.

Madueño won't become an official candidate unless she submits signatures supporting her candidacy by 5 p.m. Friday.

Madueño left her council seat to run for mayor in the fall. She lost the race to the incumbent, Chris Crifasi. Madueño said after her defeat that she was turning her attention to other projects, such as attending a business education program at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

However, her name has remained at the center of Riverbank politics. After Crifasi stepped down in January, some said Madueño should have been appointed to fill the vacancy. She wasn't. Then- Councilman David I. White got the job.

In February, Madueño applied, along with 17 others, for the resulting empty council seat. The council chose Danny Fielder for the seat.

In May, David I. White resigned, and the mayor's seat is empty.

Meanwhile, Madueño's supporters are mounting a recall effort against Councilmen Dave White and his grandson Jesse James White. The group, Riverbank Citizens for Fair Change, has until Aug. 22 to gather 2,247 signatures to move ahead with the recall election.

The recall effort has prompted mudslinging. Mailers supporting the Whites claim Madueño financially profited from the city's purchase of the Del Rio Theater.

The city's Redevelopment Agency bought the building for $1.7 million in 2007; in May, the agency voted to demolish the building, which has stood at Third and Atchison streets since the 1940s.

The city had hoped to renovate and transform it into a downtown arts venue. But a structural study revealed serious problems with the building. Engineers have said it is unsafe to occupy. The repairs would cost about $1 million.

Madueño would join a growing field vying to lead the city. Councilman Dave White is running, as are former Riverbank Unified School District board member Mark Ensley and resident Larry King. Councilman Jesse James White also has pulled papers to run, but he's not an official candidate yet. A former council member, Paul Gutierrez, also has pulled papers.

Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht can be reached at lalbrecht@modbee.com or 578-2378.

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