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Mayor Hopefuls Address Community
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Five out of the six candidates for mayor of Riverbank in the November election turned up for a meet and greet session staged by the Chamber of Commerce at Galaxy Theater on Sept. 22.

Asked to speak in random order, the five to appear were Larry King, Dave White, Mark Ensley, Virginia Madueno and Richard O'Brien. The sixth contender, former councilmember Paul Gutierrez, did not attend.

They are competing for a seat left vacant by David I. White when he resigned last May to take a job in the San Diego area. City Council has operated since then with only four members.

With the speakers able to give only sketchy information in the three minutes allocated for a brief address, Larry King said he has lived in town 20 years, is retired from the U.S, Navy and has been a consultant to a company working in the health care field for 10 years. He has a college degree in behavioral science.

"For a mayor, you need experience in managing people and assets," he said, "some education, but most of all the vision to provide the citizens with a voice. We live in a democracy and need the residents to participate and for the city to do a better job of communicating with them."

White (retired from ownership of a beauty products company) noted he has been a Riverbank resident for 25 to 30 years, has served on the council at intervals for a total of 17 years (and is currently vice mayor) and been married for 50 years with nine grandchildren.

"I have the experience and am the only candidate here tonight elected to serve on the council," he said. "But they are all good people running for this office and I will support whoever wins. I'm not about to move to San Diego or the Bay Area. I live in Riverbank because I want to, not because I have a job here."

Ensley said he has lived here for 32 years, been married for half of his life, and is the shop foreman for Weldway Inc. in Oakdale.

"Our motto at work is to get it done right, get it done before it's due and ship it out. That's the policy I would follow as mayor," he said.

Ensley noted he served several years on the Riverbank Unified School District board and is now on the board for the Riverbank Language Academy and the school bond oversight committee.

"I have the leadership and the temperament," he said. "I invite citizens to contact me. My telephone number is well known."

A former councilmember who has run for mayor before, Madueno said she is a successful small business owner of a public relations and marketing company and the mother of three children who has lived in Riverbank half a dozen years.

"I can offer new and efficient leadership," she said. "We need to end politics as usual. I will fight for more open government and to establish a prosperous community with good paying jobs, eliminate red tape and encourage public private partnerships."

The redeveloped downtown looks magnificent and the city needs to make it a hub of regional business, she added. The city also should work more closely with the schools and provide a safe and healthy place to raise children.

Richard O'Brien noted he grew up locally, graduated from Davis High and Modesto Junior College, where he met his wife Christy and enlisted in the Navy in 1972. Commissioned in 1980, he became an engineering officer and later a planning officer. Upon leaving the Navy, he gained an MA in business administration in 2005 and recently moved back from Washington to make a permanent home here.

"As mayor, I would revitalize Riverbank, protect our tax dollars and ensure public safety by cracking down on gangs and giving deputies the tools they need to respond," he said.