Orange Cove voters have an important but clear decision to make. Deeply divided politicians are drawing sharp contrasts in what they want for the city.
Former Mayor Victor Lopez is leading an effort to recall city council members Glenda Hill and Frank Martinez. Gilbert Garcia and Gloria Esther Gonzalez are up for re-election.
Lopez and three recruits: Diana Guerra Silva, Bertha Del Bosque and Ralph Pardo, are running together to take four of the five seats on the city council. The fifth seat belongs to the Mayor, Gabriel Jimenez, who is supporting the recall effort.
Lopez and his supporters say the current council is over-spending and not listening to their constituents. He says progress made during his 20 years as mayor is being destroyed.
Another view of his legacy is being espoused. Lopez has long been accused of corruption and voter fraud.
The city disbanded the police force under his administration. Only after the current council took over did the department re-form in 2009.
Current council members and their opponents have differing views on the role of police in the community. Lopez and his supporters believe the department overspends and is not a welcome presence in neighborhoods. Chief of police Frank Steenport says crime stats prove his presence is welcome, and he stands by the current council and their efforts to secure public safety.
The Justice Department is actively working in Orange Cove due to continuing accusations of voter fraud. Opponents of Lopez say his 20 years as mayor only came to an end due to increased enforcement of voting rules. Lopez denies the allegations and says personal vendettas are informing poor decisions made by the current council.