By: Janet M Kelly
Do you have a buddy? Most of us can immediately picture a close friend in our mind’s eye. One person that may not come to mind immediately is Kingsburg’s Fresno County District 4 Supervisor Ernest “Buddy” Mendes. However, he should come to mind in the future because he is a genuine friend to our town.
Ernest “Buddy” Mendes grew up on his parent’s dairy farm in Riverdale, in Western Fresno County. He is a working partner in his family’s farming business in the Central Valley and continues to farm 1800 acres with his sons.
With decades of farming experience, Buddy understands a business critical to District 4. He pointed out, “You need to understand farming if you want to be a supervisor in an area like District 4.”
Buddy has been married to Leslie for 43 years, and they have three children – Darryl, Adam, and John. They also have 7 grandchildren, and Buddy loves teaching all 7 the art of telling a good joke. Buddy had been active in local community service for many years before being elected to his Supervisor position. His leadership roles included Riverdale Unified School District Board of Trustees, Riverdale Public Utility District, and Southwest Transportation Agency, to name a few. Learning the ins and outs of city and county governments, education, transportation, and public utilities helped prepare him for the complex role of representing a varied area like District 4. With 9 cities and 9 unincorporated areas, from Orange Cove in the east to Coalinga in the west, Buddy’s responsibilities to represent all in a fair manner are vast.
Buddy will continue the job of representing Kingsburg and all of District 4 to improve education, strengthen public safety services, and create jobs. He is committed to completing unfinished road systems and is part of the Measure C Oversight Committee, making sure funds are used properly to finish road construction such as the Highway 41 gap between Elkhorn and Excelsior Avenues.
Another area of concern for Buddy is the issue of water. He has wide breadth of knowledge in this vital need for The Central Valley, especially concerning agriculture. A colleague asked him recently how he knows so much about the complexities of water issues and he said, “I can get deep into the weeds, because I’m from the weeds.” He knows water issues from the inside out.
Ernest “Buddy” Mendes epitomizes what the Founding Fathers envisioned when they established a government of citizen leaders who can “lead and then go back to the plow at the end of the day.” As Buddy told a colleague about their leadership responsibilities, knowing they have careers outside of politics, “We think we can; we know we can; and we have the experience to do this job, but we don’t have to do this job.” Many politicians view politics as a career…Buddy views it as his calling: a calling to serve District 4 and a calling to serve Kingsburg. This is why we can view Ernest “Buddy” Mendes as Kingsburg’s buddy in name… and in action.