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Next! Candidates Line Up for NW Fresno Council Seat



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With Steve Brandau holding a commanding lead in the special election for Fresno County supervisor, attention now turns to his Fresno City Council seat.

At least five candidates are planning to run in the subsequent special election to fulfill the remainder of Brandau’s term.

Brandau has a 5,731-vote lead over Nasreen Johnson. County election clerk Brandi Orth said approximately 5,800 absentee and provisional ballots still need to be counted. The next update is Friday. However, late mail-in ballots can still arrive by Friday and be counted.

Johnson’s path to a theoretical supervisor runoff is mathematically unlikely. Brandau would need to lose approximately 79% of those ballots yet to count, and garner under 50% of any late-added ballots.

Two Candidates Have Already Filed

Two candidates are already on the campaign trail. They filed to run in 2020 when Brandau would be termed out.

Phil Arballo is a financial planner and has set up infrastructure to run. He has a webpage and social media accounts. He also is planning a March 30 fundraiser.

Mike Karbassi is a businessman already knocking on doors. He, too, is increasing his social media activity and has set up a webpage.

Both men are registered Democrats. The race, however, is nonpartisan.

Others Express Interest

Mike Berg, a former superintendent at Central Unified and currently an educational consultant, tells GV Wire he plans to run.

Berg recently served as interim at superintendent in the Parlier and Yosemite districts.

“I’m a lifelong Fresno resident, third generation. I believe I have the skillset, time, and talent to give back to the community I was raised in and benefited from,” Berg said Wednesday.

Also considering a run is attorney Jared Gordon. Specializing in business law, Gordon has been active as a Tea Party member and also served with the Fresno Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee.

“I love Fresno. It is my home. I really see the future as being growth from the roots up,” Gordon said.

Fresno businessman and planning commissioner Lawrence Garcia.

Lawrence Garcia, a Fresno planning commissioner and small business owner, said he is “one hundred percent on board and ready to campaign for the position.”

All three are Republicans.

Johnson, who ran for the Fresno Unified school board in November, says she has no intention of running for Brandau’s city council seat.

Potential Election Dates

According to the city charter (Sec. 301), the council has 30 days after receiving notice of a member’s resignation to set an election date. That date would be no sooner than 90 days, and no later than the next regularly scheduled election date, which would be Nov. 5.

In theory, the earliest an election could take place is June or July, depending on Brandau’s resignation date.

With five candidates contemplating running, a run-off is a distinct possibility. The city charter mandates a run-off 30 days after the election certification.

The county election clerk has 30 days from Tuesday (March 5) to certify the supervisor election.

This story has been updated to include Garcia’s intentions.

David Taub has spent most of his career in journalism behind the scenes working as a TV assignment editor and radio producer. For more than a decade, he has worked in the Fresno market with such stops at KSEE-24, KMJ and Power Talk 96.7. Taub also worked the production and support side of some of TV sports biggest events including the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and NASCAR to name a few. Taub graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email