OAKHURST – Robert Macaulay wants your vote. In January 2020, Macaulay filed paperwork to pursue a candidacy for County Supervisor of Madera County District 5, the seat Tom Wheeler has held for the past fifteen years. That paperwork was approved in February. But that decision wasn’t made just then. “The first time it really crossed my mind was after I won the Honorary Mayor contest in 2015. A good friend of mine let me know that he thought I would make a great Supervisor when Tom was done. I thought he was kidding but when I tried to laugh it off, he was sure to emphasize his confidence in me. I ultimately made the commitment to myself and my family after the Creek Fire.”
In October 2019, Macaulay went to work as Tom Wheeler’s Chief of Staff and thus became a second voice for District 5 residents. He said he would have been a fool not to apply when offered the opportunity. He’s always enjoyed working, he says, but has never loved any job quite like he does his current one.
Robert, or Bobby as most of the mountain-area folks know him, is a bit of an anomaly. He’s not a transplant. Born and raised in Oakhurst, he’s lived here his whole life. His grandparents moved here in the 1970s, and his parents – insurance brokers Doug and Susan Macaulay – followed shortly thereafter. Bobby went through local schools and graduated from Yosemite High School in 2004. He’s seen and lived firsthand the issues the mountain communities face.
He took his cues to engage in community service from his parents and grandparents, who from earliest days involved themselves in the Oakhurst Community Center, Oakhurst Community Park, Rotary, and the Oakhurst Boys and Girls Club. Bobby has followed the same path. As Bobby says, “My family has left its mark here in the Oakhurst Area, and I hope that, given the opportunity, I can make them all proud.”
He calls his dad his biggest role model.
To that end, at 34, he has served as the President of the Oakhurst Boys and Girls Club, president of the Oakhurst Community Center, chairman of the Oakhurst Sewer District, member of the Board of Directors for the Chamber Foundation, on the Board of Directors for the Oakhurst Sierra Rotary Club, as well as an advisor for the YHS Interact Club, and on a financial advisory committee for Yosemite Unified School District.
Beyond that, he’s determined to make District 5 an excellent place to work, live and play.
In addition to his community service activities, he honed customer service skills in his parents’ business. He affirms, “As an insurance broker, I always enjoyed helping people more than making sales or money and it’s not so different now. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to serve and help people when they need it the most. I see the best way to serve them is by ensuring that our forests are well kept, both on private and public lands. Doing so will increase public safety, provide more good paying jobs, preserve our housing market, address the insurance crisis, and most importantly of all, sustain our community for generations to come.”
In September 2020, Bobby experienced something of a trial by fire – the Creek Fire. Beginning September 4, the fire quickly ravaged large portions of Madera County’s recreational high country and some residential areas. He found himself fielding calls from distraught citizens whose properties were in the path of the fire. One of the property owners who lost a second home in the Cascadel Woods area experienced both the pain of that loss and the willingness of Bobby Macaulay and other Madera County officials to assist in the resolution of the issue. Phone calls to Bobby were either answered directly or returned within minutes. Questions were answered immediately or researched and responded without hesitation.
Dampening the effects of forest fires is about preparation. “We do a great job of coming together as a community and supporting each other in dire times however, there is more we can do to prepare for these fires,” claims Bobby. “Educating people on where to look for information and what to do in an emergency will continue to be a priority for me.”
In short, Macaulay believes the more we can move towards preventative rather than reactionary measures the better off we will all be – whether that be forest health tactics or community preparedness efforts.
Asked what he sees as Madera County’s biggest need, Bobby responds that he sees that the biggest need is to come together as one community. “Bringing our communities together under one umbrella will help us better address many of the issues that we share. Fuel reduction, senior services, youth services, veteran services, medical services, roads, and water. We all share these issues and need to come together to create sustainable solutions.”
Macaulay’s campaign kicked off officially in with a reception at The Pines Resort in Bass Lake on June 30, 2021.
Madera County has tried to incorporate at least twice, and each time the measures were voted down. This has served to keep public services centered at the county government level, located in Madera. But Bobby doesn’t see incorporation as the answer to the county’s needs. When asked, he replied, “really complicated response but in short, no. I think we need more inclusive solutions that work for the district. Not just Oakhurst. Issues of fire, youth services, senior services, medical, roads, water and veterans’ services are not exclusive to Oakhurst. We need comprehensive solutions for the district. I have a project in the works that will do just that however it’s a little early to unveil at the moment.” Yet Bobby believes that the people of District 5 deserve to have a platform to speak from, and he promises to ensure that they have one. Macaulay, mirroring the views of his predecessor, Tom Wheeler, believes that Eastern Madera County residents should not have to travel to Madera to pull permits, seek assistance, or speak with their representative.
“I am incredibly grateful for all the work that Supervisor Wheeler has done here,” Macaulay pledges to continue and improve upon it. Yet he is not Tom Wheeler and intends to speak and act for himself based on his knowledge of the area and his own commitment to working for the place he’s lived his entire life.
As part of his campaign, Bobby has spearheaded a series of cleanup missions in the Bass Lake area in response to the increased trash dumping that has escalated during and following the shutdown. His next cleanup event is scheduled for Tuesday, August 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. To join in, meet at Recreation Point. Water, gloves and bags are provided.
He has a few other events planned for 2022, among them a music festival to benefit the Oakhurst BGC and a Golf Tournament that will benefit the Eastern Madera County SPCA.
Asked for parting thoughts, Macaulay replied, “I believe that we find ourselves in a unique time which creates a sense of urgency. I am working hard on solutions right now that will help carry our district into the future, but I need the support of our district to ensure they get done. I know that together we can make District 5 the better place to live work and play. “