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Four Fresno Council Races on June Ballot. Who Has Raised the Most?



How much have Fresno City Council candidates raised for the June election? (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)
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Annalisa Perea continues to be the fundraising leader in all metrics for the open Fresno City Council District 1 seat. Now in her third year of campaigning, Perea has more than 10 times the cash on hand as Cary Catalano, who is second on the list.

Fresno City Council President Nelson Esparza has proved to be the most prolific fundraiser of all candidates running for the council. Esparza has raised more money in the most recent reporting period, Jan. 1-April 23, and the most in this election cycle (since 2019).

Contributors tend to be entities with business as City Hall — developers, unions, and other groups. The contributions to candidates are generally for staff, signs, and consultants.

Ballots for the June 7 primary will be sent out next week. If a candidate wins more than 50%, he or she will be the winner. If not, the top two advance to the November general election.

Four Candidates Running in District 1

Perea, 34 and a Democrat, has the support of the woman she wants to succeed, Esmeralda Soria. The District 1 seat covering west Fresno and the Tower District is open because Soria is termed out.

Already an elected member of the State Center Community College District, Perea leads in money raised in the most recent reporting period, overall, and cash on hand among the four candidates.

The cash-on-hand metric is most striking. Perea reports more than $247,000; Catalano, a 48-year-old Democrat and public relations professional, has nearly $24,000 in cash remaining.

“I’m running a campaign. I don’t need to sit on cash,” Catalano said. “We have everything we need to get us through the June primary.”

Former Fresno police officer Jeremy Preis, 49 and Republican, has raised $8,300 total. The city clerk has not posted the financials for real estate broker and former Fresno councilman and assemblyman Mike Briggs, a 63-year-old Republican.

GV Wire will host an online debate on Tuesday, May 10, at 8:30 a.m. live on Facebook. It will be available to watch anytime thereafter.

Chavez Looks to Keep his Seat

Luis Chavez is technically running for his third term to represent southeast Fresno in District 5. He won office in 2016 to serve a partial two-year term and was re-elected in 2018.

He leads his June opponent, Sanger Unified school board president Brandon Vang, in all aspects of fundraising.

Chavez, 42 and a Democrat, has crossover support. Garry Bredefeld, a colleague on the city council and a staunch conservative, contributed $750.

Several of Vang’s contributors are of southeast Asian descent. Vang, a 50-year-old Democrat, migrated to America as a Hmong refugee from the Vietnam War.

Brandon Vang, left, and Luis Chavez (GV Wire/Paul Marshall)

Arias, Esparza Face Grassroots Opponents

While nothing should be assumed, incumbent councilman Miguel Arias (District 3, southwest Fresno and downtown) and Esparza (District 7, east and central Fresno) did not draw well-funded opponents.

Both of Arias’ challengers, Larry Burrus and Nickolas Wildstar, vowed not to raise more than $2,000.

Same with one of Esparza’s opponents, student Courtney Westfall. Another opponent, Jason Keomanee, does not have his information posted with the city clerk.

The Biggest Winner? A Consultant

Jason Carns is consulting on all four races. His successful track record makes him a popular man during campaign season.

Carns has earned $44,000 in consulting fees working for Arias, Chavez, and Esparza in the latest reporting period. He has also worked on Perea’s campaign, where he was paid another $11,000 in 2021.

[Update, 5/02/2022: a previous version of this story said Carns was not working on the District 1 campaign. It has since been updated.]

Fresno City Council Fundraising


Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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