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Split Council Taps White For Mayor
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The Riverbank City Council selected Vice Mayor David I. White as the city's new mayor at a special council meeting on Friday, Jan. 30.

With a standing room crowd packed into the council chambers, council members Dave White, Jesse James White and Sandra Benitez heard City Manager Rich Holmer explain the council essentially had three options in filling the seat of former mayor Chris Crifasi, who resigned earlier in the month due to relocating for his job. Holmer said the council could appoint a sitting council member to the position of mayor; appoint an eligible Riverbank citizen or decide to open an application process for the open seat; or schedule a special election.

Holmer said the anticipated cost of an election would be $15,000 to $40,000. He added at least three council members would have to agree to an appointment for it be valid.

During public comments on the issue, Virginia Madueno, a former councilperson who ran second to Crifasi during the 2008 mayoral election, told the council she would be interested in serving as mayor. She said she hoped the council would look to her for the position, as she had run for the mayor's seat.

While many of the people who spoke at the meeting supported appointing Madueno to the position of mayor, others felt the council should appoint David I. White, since he already held the position of vice mayor.

At a meeting earlier in the week discussing the city's general plan, a number of people spoke during the public comments portion as well, indicating they felt Madueno would be a good pick as she netted 47 percent of the vote and also represented the city's Hispanic community. Some speakers noted with Riverbank's population at 51 percent Hispanic, it would be appropriate to have a Hispanic mayor to represent that part of the city's population.

During the council discussion, Dave White said the council should select the mayor from a current member, as the costs of an election would be prohibitive. Jesse James White agreed, noting the council had begun to work well together in confronting some of the issues facing Riverbank.

Benitez told the council she disagreed with appointing a current council member.

"It's no secret I support Virginia," she said, and then indicated she would like to read a statement.

"You're not going to like it," she cautioned the rest of the council.

Benitez stated in reviewing the California Code of Ethics, she felt council member Dave White should refrain from voting in any decisions involving Madueno.

Benitez described Dave White as "tainted by bias" in his dealings with Madueno due to his involvement in a civil case last year. She said he should not vote in the mayoral issue to avoid any appearances of impropriety.

City Attorney Thomas Hallinan said the statute Benitez was referring to usually deals with issues that go beyond simply strongly supporting or not supporting other candidates, and Dave White would not be disqualified from casting any votes involving Madueno.

Jesse James White said he thought the council should honor Crifasi's selection of David I. White as vice mayor, and select him as mayor. He said he felt this would follow the wishes of those who voted for Crifasi.

Dave White described Madueno as an "outstanding citizen," but said he also felt David I. White would be a good leader for Riverbank, representing all the people within the city.

Dave White made a motion to appoint David I. White mayor for the remainder of Crifasi's term, which Jesse James White seconded. David I. White voted for the motion; Benitez voted no.

After the vote, some in the audience, apparently disgruntled with the outcome, began complaining and subsequently left the council chambers as David I. White was speaking.

He told the council he believes diversity is what makes Riverbank a great city, and would urge other council members to appoint Madueno to his former council seat.

"Virginia holds the skills necessary for any position on the council," he said.

After the meeting, David I. White noted there was a lot of discourse currently in the community, but hoped he could do his part to bring parties together.

White is an IT Manager for Stanislaus County Behavioral Health Recovery Services, and is a part of a 12-person leadership team within the county where he said he has learned the importance of hearing other viewpoints.

"You have to be able to weigh both sides," he said.

One issue he hopes to address, he said, is bringing together older factions of Riverbank with the newer parts of the community.

White and his wife, Mari, celebrated their 30th anniversary on Jan. 20. He pointed out the day was especially meaningful for him and Mari, with the inauguration of President Obama.

The Whites have a daughter, Monique Dominguez, who is currently in medical school in Southern California, and a son, David I. White II, who is a banker in San Francisco.