Lee Brand took the oath of office to officially become mayor of Fresno. The brief ceremony took place at 9 a.m. in the lobby in front of council chambers.
Although the official ceremony takes place Thursday morning, according to the city charter (Article III, sec. 303 (c)), newly elected members of the council and the mayor take office the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January. Therefore, the newly elected and re-elected council members take office today as well.
After the oath, Mayor Brand held his first news conference with the gathered media. In an 11 minute session, he answered questions regarding his future plans, the impending council votes on the apartment inspection plan, water fees for developers and how to handle the Dylan Noble shooting lawsuit.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime,” Brand opened. “I see a bright future for the city of Fresno.”
At the top of his agenda is to bring a “sensible, workable, effective rental-housing inspection program.” The council tabled previous Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s proposal until February 2 at its December 15 meeting. Brand also said he wants to create his police advisory board within his first 100 days. Recruiting businesses, jobs and economic expansion were Brand’s other goals.
“I want to see one Fresno, with opportunities for everyone in this town,” Brand opined. “It would make my heart feel good over 4 to 8 years to transform this city.”
Brand says he is eager to shift to community based policing. “We are going to have a closer city. We are going to have a city that has lowered barriers, improved transparency and accountability. Most importantly, keeps our city safe.”
Regarding the Dylan Noble shooting, Brand says the city will rely on legal counsel opinion. “We will have to do the prudent thing in terms of what justice demands and make fiscal considerations. Obviously, these things are very expensive.”
Noble was shot and killed by police after being pulled over in June 2016. An investigation revealed he would not comply with police commands to show both hands. Officers shot him four times, and Noble eventually died from his wounds. It turned out he was unarmed. The two officers involved were cleared of any wrongdoing by an internal Fresno Police and District Attorney investigations. However, the family of Noble has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Fresno.
Brand also touted the Economic Expansion Act he passed while on council. “The recent decisions by Ulta and Amazon to consider e-commerce centers here are direct result of performance based incentives outlined in the Expansion Act. It is a very progressive, very smart way to grow jobs, but we need to advertise that.” He said he is working on a marketing campaign to get the word out for businesses to move to Fresno.
“After four years, eight years, I want to see Fresno under 10% unemployment, continually. If we can do that, we can transform this economy and address the underlying poverty.”
With his new administration, Brand feels the city will work closer with other jurisdictions, such as Fresno Unified and the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, than ever before.
A formal ceremony will take place on Thursday (January 5, 2017) at 10 a.m. The pomp and circumstance will include public swearing in, speeches and public recognition of outgoing elected servants, such as Swearengin.