Councilmen Luis Chavez and Garry Bredefeld are also running for the Fresno County Board of Supervisors in separate races next year.
A 2020 county law allows a campaign contribution limit of $30,000. This includes transfers from one account to another. Chavez and Bredefeld disagreed and are now engaged in litigation with the county.
By a 4-1 vote in closed session Thursday, the Fresno City Council agreed to intervene, defending the interests of the city. Chavez and Bredefeld recused themselves from the vote; Miguel Arias voted no.
The city, in essence, would be a third party to the lawsuit.
City Attorney Andrew Janz says the city’s involvement will be limited in scope — asking a judge to clarify the terms “campaign transfer” and “campaign contribution.”
“This is not a political thing. This is to make sure we follow state law and FPPC guidance,” Janz said.
Janz interpreted that transfers are not the same things as contributions — meaning funds transferred from an outside account into a city campaign account would not be subject to limitations. The county took the opposite stance.[Update 7/21/23: the story has been updated to clarify that the city vote was not to intervene on behalf their colleagues, but rather to defend city interests.]
Bredefeld, Chavez, Arias and the 2024 Race
Bredefeld is running against incumbent Steve Brandau in District 2 which covers north Fresno and parts of Clovis. Chavez is running against incumbent Sal Quintero in District 3, which covers much of south Fresno.
Bredefeld reported having $223,000 in his campaign account and Chavez has $110,000. Brandau reported $173,619 cash on hand, and Quintero had $75,000 through the end of 2022.
Arias is also running in the District 3 race. Because he had less than $30,000 in his city council account, the transfer limits were moot.
The trial starts Sept. 29. Judge Jon Skiles will preside.
Council Hopefuls Can Collect More Cash
Keeping up with inflation, the Fresno City Council approved increasing the campaign contribution limit to run for office. Following a ruling from the state agency in charge of campaign fundraising, individuals can now contribute $5,500 (up from $4,900); and small committees can contribute $10,900 (up from $9,700).
The motion passed 6-0, with Councilman Luis Chavez absent.
The increased limits also apply to those running for mayor. Jerry Dyer intends to run for re-election next year. He has not drawn an opponent.
Councilmen Tyler Maxwell and Mike Karbassi also filed for re-election. District 6 is open, as Councilman Garry Bredefeld is termed out. At least four have filed to run.
Financial reports for fundraising through June 30 are due at the end of the month.
The election is on March 5, 2024.
City Attorneys Leaving … City Hall
Several of Janz’s attorneys are leaving City Hall.
Literally. On Thursday, the Fresno City Council voted 7-0 for a lease deal that will move members of Janz’s team out of City Hall and into a building owned by Tutelian Holdings I, LLC.
About 15 attorneys in the litigation unit will move a block away to 2440 Tulare Street.
“We are busting at the seams,” Janz said.
Janz will remain working at City Hall.
The budget department currently leases the off-site space and will return to City Hall this summer.
The lease deal is for 10 years. The cost is between about $13,000 to $16,000 a year (the rent will increase 2.5% per year), plus $70,000 yearly for building operation costs.