By Reggie Ellis

With all of Tulare County dealing with a budget shortfall in fire services, who better to be Exeter's new mayor than a firefighter.

Charlie Norman was unanimously voted mayor by his peers in a reorganization of the Exeter City Council at its Nov. 23 meeting.

"We will have to tackle some big issues and try to balance our growth with our public safety," said Norman, a firefighter of 29 years and currently battalion chief with the Visalia Fire Department, about the $1.8 million shortfall in the Tulare County Fire Department's budget. "This is not politics. Everyone here does what is right for the city and we have a good council."

Norman succeeds Leon Ooley, who was mayor from 2002-2004. Norman was elected to the council in 1998 and has served as mayor pro tem since 2000. Ted Macaulay was unanimously voted to replace Norman as mayor pro tem. Macaulay, an insurance agent with NSE Insurance, was elected in 2002. Both mayor and mayor pro-tem will serve a two-year term. The mayor holds the tie-breaking vote for council decisions and conducts the meetings. Mayor pro tem conducts meetings and holds the duties of mayor in the absence of the mayor. Ooley, along with Councilman Jon Stearns, were unopposed in this year's election.

"I thank you for the job you did as mayor pro tem," Ooley told Norman. "I also want to thank the council and the city staff and employees. It is a small staff that does an awful lot of work."

Councilman Joe Bombgardner said he was glad to have served under the guidance of Ooley.

"We have had some tough decisions and you have always conducted yourself with a proper decorum," he said. "I'm sure Charlie will do a great job."

Norman has also been elected to the Exeter District Ambulance Board for two terms (1994-2002) and the appointed to the Exeter Planning Commission for one term from 1997-1998, when he left to serve on the city council. This is Macaulay's first government body he has been elected to, but is currently a member of the Exeter Lions Club and the Exeter Health and Wellness Foundation.

Norman and his wife, Madeline, will have been married for 12 years on Dec. 3 and have four children -- Nate, 11, Kirby, 8, and Jake, 6. Macaulay and his wife of 25 year, Janice, have two sons -- Eddie, 21, attending Sacramento State University, and Andrew, 18, a senior at Exeter Union High School.

"This is a wonderful town," the former mayor said. "Exeter is a place I want to live thanks to all the people who make it so we can walk down our streets. I would also like to thank those who show up at the meetings. It's kind of boring up here when no one shows, so come down and find out what's happening in your town. This is your town not the council's, we are just trying to be good stewards of the community."

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