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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.

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