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Close Race Madueno Wins Mayor's Seat
Virginia Madueno will be the new mayor of Riverbank according to the final, unofficial figures for that race announced Thursday by Stanislaus County elections officials after the counting of mail-in votes.

By then Madueno had increased her 55-vote lead over Richard O'Brien on the night of the election Nov. 3 to 98 votes.

"I am truly thankful for this opportunity, truly excited and will work my hardest to make sure Riverbank continues to move forward," the Mayor-elect said on Friday.

A former councilmember, Madueno received 981 votes or 40.76 percent of the vote to lead political newcomer O'Brien, who garnered 883 votes (36.68 percent) and current vice mayor Dave White who recorded 322 votes (13.58 percent).

Among the other three candidates in the hotly contested race, Mark Ensley recorded 142 votes, Larry King 60 and Paul Gutierrez 14. Gutierrez pulled out of the race a week before and endorsed White but his name remained on the ballot.

Appointed to complete a council term, Madueno failed in her first try to become mayor in 2008 in competition with Chris Crifasi and had to leave the council because the term was expired.

White, however, will stay on the council because his term does not expire until 2010 and he was running "from a safe seat," according to Riverbank City Clerk Linda Abid Cummings.

Newly elected members including a mayor usually take office at the first council meeting in December and this year that falls on Dec. 14. But this will depend on exactly when the County Clerk and Elections certifies the election results.

Voter turnout was very low. The latest results bring the county's overall voter turnout to 22.1 percent. For the Riverbank mayor's race the figure was about the same.

Abid Cummings noted at the last mayoral election in 2008 there were 8,948 registered votes and 6,388 cast their ballot for a heavy turnout of 71.39 percent

But by the May 2009 elections that mainly concerned state propositions, the registered voter figure had fallen to 8,563 and only 1,986 voted for a percentage of 23.19 percent.

Madueno has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Stanislaus State and is the owner of a small public relations company called Imagen Inc. A longtime resident of Riverbank, she is married to Ramiro and has three school-age children. Appointed to the council in November of 2005, she served until 2008.

Making his first attempt at seeking local political office, O'Brien is a retired U. S. Navy commander who is now a businessman, managing one of his family's three grocery stores. His nephew Bill is a former Riverbank mayor and now serves on the county Board of Supervisors.

White, who recently retired from a business supplying beauty supplies to scores of salons in California and Nevada, has served on the council for 18 of the last 25 years. White is 70 and having served as the city's first elected mayor, said he would like to serve once more as mayor before he leaves the council.