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Madueno Swearing In Draws Capacity Crowd
Virginia Madueno's supporters filled the Riverbank Community Center to capacity and greeted her with lengthy applause and a standing ovation as she took the oath of office for mayor during the Nov. 23 Riverbank City Council meeting.

Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Ricardo Cordova conducted the swearing-in ceremony immediately after members of American G. I. Forum led a flag salute, Father Tom Rajanayagam gave the invocation and City Clerk Linda Abid Cummings declared the Nov. 3 election results.

A former councilmember, Madueno led the six contenders for the mayor's office with 1030 votes compared with 920 for Richard O'Brien and 342 for Dave White, Abid Cummings reported. She added that 2,538 out of 8,568 registered Riverbank voters cast their vote for a turnout of 29.62 percent.

Looking official in a white pantsuit, Madueno repeated the oath in a clear, calm voice. She appeared momentarily, emotionally moved by the subsequent applause, then said she needed to get her notes and her glasses before addressing the crowd.

"I am humbled and grateful to assume the role of mayor," she said. "I promise to move this city forward, pledge to act with determination and commitment, and to work hard. I do not take this office lightly but regard it as a challenge. We will work together and turn things around ..."

She then spoke briefly in Spanish for the benefit of her Hispanic supporters and especially her parents, who came to this country in search of a better life and lived to see their first daughter become mayor of a California city.

The council has had problems since first Mayor Chris Crifasi and then Mayor David I. White resigned within months of each other last spring. Operating with only four council members and no mayor, it has seemed at times to lack effective leadership. This situation became worse when a disgruntled citizen group mounted a recall movement and called for the resignation of Vice Mayor Dave White and his grandson, Councilmember Jesse James White. That has not happened. Dave and Jesse White both remain on the council.

After confirmation as mayor on Nov. 23, Madueno then mounted the dais to join the rest of the council and conducted a short business meeting with authority before adjourning the meeting to a reception with refreshments.

Councilmember Jesse James White was absent, reportedly sick with the flu. Council members Danny Fielder and Sandra Benitez greeted Madueno warmly but White showed less enthusiasm.

Having lost his bid for the mayor's position in a hard-fought election, White said he was grateful the city again had a full council and planned on working with Madueno. But he then added, "if she will let me," which brought an audible groan from some in the audience.

Turning to business, the council heard a presentation from AT & T on a new television service called "U-verse" it will offer in Riverbank; heard Oakdale Irrigation District Director Jack Alpers complain of the effect on OID of Riverbank Local Redevelopment Authority's inclusion of lands west of the former ammunition plant; approved the first reading of a raise in sewer connection fees; and postponed further debate on the sewer rate hike to the Dec. 14 meeting.

Asked about costs the city had incurred so far with the controversial sewer rate hike proposal, City Manager Rich Holmer said the two sewer system studies and two notifications to the public had cost $81,000 and produced landowner opposition votes of 16 on one notification and 18 on the other.

To authorize a third notification requires at least a 3-2 majority vote by council but approval of an actual sewer rate hike requires a four-fifths council vote in favor.