Nathan Alonzo officially announced his 2020 campaign for Fresno City Council District 4, covering the east-central part of town.
The political establishment stood in support of Alonzo’s run — the mayor, the incumbent, the police chief, the sheriff, the chamber of commerce, and the police union, among others.
“This is my first time running for political office, a relatively young candidate. I’m bringing a new perspective and a new approach to the job. So while I have a lot of the folks who are pillars of our community on my side, I also think I bring a unique perspective.” — Nathan Alonzo
Yet, the 26-year old Alonzo insists he isn’t an establishment candidate.
“This is my first time running for political office, a relatively young candidate,” he said. “I’m bringing a new perspective and a new approach to the job. So while I have a lot of the folks who are pillars of our community on my side, I also think I bring a unique perspective.”
Alonzo has packed plenty into his short career. He’s served as a staffer for former state Sen. Andy Vidak. His tenure at the Fresno Chamber of Commerce as vice president of government affairs kept him in constant contact at City Hall.
Support from Brand
Mayor Lee Brand spoke at Alonzo’s kickoff ceremony, held at the Smittcamp Alumni House on the Fresno State campus Wednesday morning.
“He’s got to also be someone who’s got the wherewithal and the grit to stand up to a tough city council,” Brand said. “I will need every ally I can get to implement my vision.”
That tough city council’s opposition to Brand’s spending plan on SB 1 gas-tax funds for local roads forced Brand to remove the item from this week’s agenda.
Alonzo said he understands why councilmembers have the desire to fight for their respective districts.
“Each of them is doing what a representative should do, which is get the most amount of money for their districts,” Alonzo said. “If I was in the mix right now, I’d be fighting for more money for my district as well.”
Do Endorsements Help?
In a normal voting world, the support Alonzo lined up would make him an overwhelming favorite.
In addition to Brand, Police Chief Jerry Dyer, Sheriff Margaret Mims, and the current area councilman, Paul Caprioglio, all spoke on his behalf. They lauded his commitment to public safety and job creation.
But in 2018, that message didn’t resonate with the voters in the two open council seats in District 3 (southeast) and District 7 (central). Voters went with the more progressive candidate both times.
Not even Brand’s support helped. Both his candidates — Tate Hill in District 3 and Brian Whelan in District 7 — lost.
“Ultimately, the issues are going to be defined by the voters. The candidates will make or break themselves,” Brand said. “If the one I didn’t endorse becomes elected, then I’ll work with that councilmember no matter what. Hope for the best and plan for the worst.”
Alonzo sounded like a seasoned candidate when asked how he planned to win.
“(By) going out there and having conversations with people. Letting them know our vision, our policy vision, is for our district and for our city. And, then working hard. Working really hard,” Alonzo answered.
One other candidate has filed paperwork for the 2020 election, Tyler Maxwell, a former civilian employee with the police department and a current staffer for Councilman Nelson Esparza (District 7).
“I welcome any District 4 residents into the race and look forward to a thorough debate on the issues impacting our neighborhoods.,” Maxwell said. “The announcement and endorsements today were not a surprise to anyone familiar with local politics. What people can expect from me is to combat the status quo that has held this city back generation after generation, and to offer a new voice and new solutions to our working-class families and local businesses.”
Formerly a registered Republican, Alonzo switched to no party preference in December. Maxwell is a registered Democrat. According to the county clerk’s numbers last updated in February, the district has 40% registered Democrats, 26% no party preference and 26% Republican.
The city council, technically, is a non-partisan position.
The election takes place on March 3, 2020, the same day as the California primary for president.