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This candidate could be Madera’s first Indigenous Mexican-American councilmember

Photo courtesy of Elsa Mejia.
Elsa Mejia could be the first Mixteca councilmember elected to Madera's City Council.


City of Madera residents voted Tuesday to fill a vacancy on the city council. County officials are still counting ballots from the special election but as of Thursday, an Indigenous Mexican-American candidate has garnered 61 percent of the vote. 

The seat has been vacant since November 2020 when residents elected Santos Garcia to be mayor. Elsa Mejia, 32, who grew up in Madera’s fifth district, says that’s when community members reached out to her to run. 

“But I had already seen the need,” she says. “And I thought that I could do a good job with my education, with my volunteer experience, because I've been involved ever since I was a teenager.” 

At 17 years old, Mejia advocated for the city to create a community garden and won. Now, she says she wants to help invest in small businesses and revitalize the city’s downtown. District 5 is also home to the city’s largest Indigenous community from Mexico. 

“We’ve been established here for more than 30 years, and it was time to see representation on council,” she says. 

Mejia is Mixteca and her family is from Santa María Tindú in Oaxaca. If elected, Mejia will be the first Indigenous council member for the city of Madera. 

Madi Bolanos covered immigration and underserved communities for KVPR from 2020-2022. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border.