If you aren’t one of the 45,000-plus Fresno County voters who have already turned in their ballots, tomorrow is Election Day. A few observations about the candidates and campaigns:
The candidates believe the Central Valley is worth visiting multiple times. Antonio Villaraigosa has been here more than 50 (I lost count at 10). Gavin Newsom, Delaine Eastin and John Cox have been here at least four or five.
Now, about the big question Valley Republicans face: stick with your guns and values and vote for Cox or Travis Allen. Or take on the “anyone but Gavin” approach and vote for the most moderate of the Democratic lot, Villaraigosa. The wisdom is that there is no chance a Republican beats Newsom in the general election. Villaraigosa may have a shot.
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer and former Fresno Mayor Alan Autry opted for Villaraigosa. Fresno Councilman Garry Bredefeld cast his lot with Cox.
Even if Cox makes the No. 2 spot and gets wiped out, could he be a loss-leader to get Republicans to the November polls for other key votes: Congress and the gas tax repeal?
Last week, both Newsom and Villaraigosa stumped at the same union hall, Teamsters 431 near the Fresno Chaffee Zoo: Villaraigosa on Tuesday; Newsom on Friday. Each attracted different crowds.
I did not recognize one elected Valley leader at Newsom’s event, but he drew a larger audience. I noticed union members and others from the broad range of the Democratic caucus.
Fresno Council President Esmeralda Soria hosted Villaraigosa at his stop. Many councilmembers across the Valley joined in. By my count, Villaraigosa drew a heavier percentage of Latinos to his event. This could be the determining factor for his campaign: Can Villaraigosa get “his” people to the polls?
I asked Peter Nuñez, the local Teamsters president his thoughts. After all, he welcomed both candidates to his venue. He told me he liked what he heard from both Democrats, but kept close to his vest on who he would actually vote for.
And, in a last-minute campaign stop, Republican Travis Allen will appear tonight in Clovis. While his poll numbers suggest his campaign ends Tuesday, he may have drawn the most true GOP believers to his cause.
His event starts 6 p.m. at Railroad Park, 805 N. Peach Ave. in Clovis.
Fresno City Council
While four seats are up for grabs, only two are competitive races.
District 1 incumbent Esmeralda Soria is running unopposed. Still, she raised more than $100,000 in campaign contributions.
District 5 incumbent Luis Chavez has three opponents. But, based on fundraising and name recognition, it would be a shock of Chavez does not win the seat outright on Tuesday.
The remaining seats, districts 3 and 7, are up for grabs.
With seven candidates in the District 3 race (to replace termed-out Oliver Baines), it is highly unlikely anyone will win the seat outright in the primary. Expect a run-off among two of these four: State Center Community College Trustee Miguel Arias; former Black Metro Chamber of Commerce CEO Tate Hill; downtown advocate and former Fresno City Councilman Craig Scharton; and Democratic Party activist/educator Daren Miller.
While the D3 race has been mostly cordial, District 7 (replacing termed-out Clint Olivier) has not. Instead of debating the issues, Brian Whelan and Veva Islas argued over what her real name is.
At least there is a definitive difference in the views of conservative Whelan, liberal Islas, and by comparison, moderate Nelson Esparza.
Early return figures favor the Democrats. The question is, will Islas and Esparza split the Democratic votes to the point that it allows Whelan to garner a majority and win outright? Or will it be a November run-off among two of those three?
And the Rest
The state and county races have served up little excitement. But some of the battles for Congress are making headlines — in the Valley and across the nation.
Because of the top-two system, there’s not much point in spending time and energy when only two names appear on the ballot. That’s the case of four races for seats covering Fresno County:
In Assembly District 23, incumbent Republican Jim Patterson faces Democrat challenger Aileen Rizo. And, in District 31, incumbent Democrat Joaquin Arambula faces Republican Lupe Espinoza.
Ditto for the incumbent Rep. David Valadao (Republican) vs. TJ Cox (Democrat) in the CA-21 contest for U.S. Congress.
Likewise for incumbent Rep. Jim Costa (Democrat) vs. Elizabeth Heng (Republican) in CA-16.
Another interesting aspect is how well the four prosecutors in Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp’s office will do.
Two are running for Fresno County judge in separate races: Robert Mangano (against Brent Woodward) and Billy Terrence (against Roger Wilson).
Another, Sally Orme Moreno, is one of two challengers to embattled Madera County DA David Linn (Madera County prosecutor Paul Hornick is also running).
And, Andrew Janz is running a high-profile Democratic challenge to Republican Devin Nunes for Congress in CA-22. The national media focused on this race, thanks to Nunes’ heightened profile in the past year as head of the House Intelligence Committee.
Meanwhile, Republican incumbent Jeff Denham of Turlock faces a battle royale to keep his seat in CA-10.
Fresno Budget Time
Will the Fresno City Council have the temerity to alter Mayor Lee Brand’s $1.115 billion budget? After all, they have final say in how taxpayers’ money is spent.
The process starts Tuesday, and is expected to last six sessions over the next three weeks. For the first four meetings (June 5, 6, 11, 12), each department will present its plan. Motions to alter the budget takes place on June 19, with a final vote on June 21 (and June 28 if necessary).
Central Valley Observer reporter George Hostetter noticed in his budget preview that the office of the mayor and city manger’s request has swelled 73.5% in three years. Brand is asking for $2.4 million in salaries alone.
In the line item copy of the budget, one can find many interesting items. Such as “City Hall Rent” the mayor/city manager’s office pays: $44,600. I’m told this is normal — just spreading out the cost of running City Hall to all the departments.
Not all city councilmember offices plan to spend the same. Each office lists about 50 different line items, mainly staff salaries and office supplies. One interesting item is “miscellaneous expenses” that vary from office to office. It is often the second-costliest expense. A breakdown:
|District||Councilmember||Overall budget||Miscellaneous Expenses|
*Termed out after this year
Police, Fire, Parks and Finance bat leadoff for budget presentations Tuesday.
The $59.2 million fire budget is a 3% decrease from last year’s general fund. The $164 million police budget is virtually the same amount from last year.
Parks is requesting a shade under $15 million from the general fund; a 2% increase over last year. Keep that in mind when thinking about Proposition 68 (a statewide initiative for parks and water on Tuesday’s ballot), and the proposed sales tax for parks that boosters are collecting signatures for to put to voters in the November election.