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Arias, Esparza Win Spots on Fresno Council. Chavez Wins Re-Election
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 5 years ago on
November 7, 2018

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Luis Chavez

The next Fresno city council will be more left-leaning and majority Latino.

Miguel Arias has defeated Tate Hill in the District 3 race, 58%-42%, with 100% precincts reporting.

In District 5, Luis Chavez won his case for re-election to represent southeast Fresno, with a 62%-38% win over Paula Yang, with 100% precincts reporting.

And, in a seat that swung in the favor of Democrats, Nelson Esparza bested Brian Whelan, 59%-41% with 100% precincts reporting.

“I feel like it’s a collective community effort and a collective community win,” Esparza said at his victory party at the Broadway Events Center in downtown Fresno.

Latino Majority

Arias, Chavez and Esparza join Esmeralda Soria, who won re-election in June as an unopposed incumbent, as the new majority-Latino council.

Arias noted that the last time there was a majority-Latino council was 20 years ago.

Those four, along with District 4 councilman Paul Caprioglio, give the council a decidedly Democratic look (though city council offices are officially non-partisan).

“That really sends a strong signal for our mayor that we need to find a way to collaborate and ensure our democratic values will be honored,” Arias said from the same election-night party at the Broadway Events Center.

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, a Republican, supported Hill (a Democrat) and Whelan (a Republican) for council.

Steve Brandau (District 2) and Garry Bredefeld (District 6) will represent the council’s only Republicans. Clint Olivier, a libertarian-leaning Republican representing District 7, is termed out.

2019 Issues

The next city council already has work on its plate. It will tackle such issues as how to implement water fees, regulation of marijuana businesses and the aftermath of Measure P’s defeat.

Esparza is already thinking ahead.

“We have to fix our broken public safety system. We need to structurally address our homeless issue. That’s a beast in itself. What I preached during the whole campaign for a long-term vision is economic development. A lot of this won’t happen without resources,” Esparza said.

The new council will be sworn in Jan. 8, 2019. Brandau is next in the pre-determined rotation to become council president.

Measure P Fails

Not only did Measure P, the proposed 3/8 of a cent sales tax raise in Fresno, fail to garner two-thirds of the vote needed, it couldn’t even attain a majority.

With 100% of the precincts counted, “No” votes prevailed by a margin of 51%-49%.

This campaign pitted the current mayor, Lee Brand, against former mayors Ashley Swearengin and Alan Autry. It also divided many on Fresno’s philanthropic front. Campaign spending on both sides exceeded $2 million.

Measure A Wins

Measure A, which would allow the city of Fresno to impose up to a 10% business license tax on the cannabis industry, appears headed to victory. With 100% of precincts reporting, A is leading 70%-30%. It needs a two-thirds margin, which it is currently exceeding, to pass.

Olivier, who strongly supported the measure, says the city now needs to move forward with regulations for the cannabis industry.

“We got a lot of support from Democrats, Republicans and independents as well,” he said on election night. “Either we get on this train or run over by it.”

Results on two other Fresno measures are split.

Measure O, which would clean up outdated language in the city’s charter, is trailing 51%-49% with 100% precincts reporting.

Measure Q, which would require a balanced budget, prevailed easily with a margin of 80% – 20% with 100% precincts reporting.

Both measures require a simple majority to pass.

This story has been updated.

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
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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