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With Veto Looming, Deal Reached in Fresno Office Space Clash



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The Fresno City Council will not override Mayor Lee Brand’s first veto.

However, the council essentially won what it wanted in the office space fight.

Photo of GV Wire's David Taub

David Taub

Politics 101

The council approved, 5-1 on April 25, a resolution to reallocate City Hall office space used by the city manager’s office and turn that space over for council use.

City Manager Wilma Quan balked, calling the space council already uses a “ghost town.”

Brand then issued a veto. The council was set to override the veto, needing the same five votes that approved the resolution in the first place.

A deal reached between the mayor’s office and councilmembers saw the resolution’s sponsors, Esmeralda Soria, Miguel Arias and Luis Chavez, pull its scheduled veto override vote at today’s (May 16) meeting. Thus, the veto stands.

“We would like to thank the mayor for meeting with us yesterday and finding a solution that addresses our goal to collectively serve the needs of our growing constituency,” Arias read from the dais. “In turn, the mayor and city manager would like to thank their council sponsors for working with the administration to develop this solution.”

In an email of the deal read by GV Wire, starting July 1, deputy city manager Laura Merrill will vacate her cubicle, with that space ceded to the council. Assistant city manager Jane Sumpter’s space will also be cleared in a few months.

The deal also calls for seven parking spaces dedicated for the council’s staff use to happen immediately.

This was the first Fresno mayoral veto since Ashley Swearengin objected to budget items in 2014.

Veto override withdrawal from GV Wire on Vimeo.

Presidential Candidate Buttigieg in Fresno Town Hall

Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg will hold a televised town hall in Fresno.

“Hardball” host Chris Matthews announced the June 3 event on his telecast Wednesday night.

The only details known are it takes place June 3 in Fresno, starting at 4 p.m. MSNBC says it isn’t ready to share more details.

The move caught many local Democrats, like county party chair Michael Evans, off guard. But, he’s looking forward to it nonetheless.

Heck, the move seemed to catch host Matthews off guard when he announced it.

“I don’t know why it’s Fresno. But, it’s a long trip, it’s going to be worth it,” he said.

Many presidential candidates will appear at the state Democratic convention in San Francisco the prior weekend, May 31-June 2.

Westerlund to Austin?

Larry Westerlund

Larry Westerlund is a finalist for the job of economic development director in Austin, Texas.

The Texas capital city is holding a meet and greet with Westerlund and two other finalists this afternoon.

He holds the similar position at Fresno City Hall, a job he’s had since 2014.

Before that, Westerlund was a councilman, representing east central Fresno from 2005-2013.

According to Transparent California, Westerlund earns $132,920 in salary and benefits.

Three More Names in District 2 Special Election

Phil Arballo is running in the special election for Fresno council after all.

The election to fill the District 2 (northwest Fresno) seat is Aug. 13. A potential runoff is Nov. 5.

Arballo dropped out of the special election campaign to focus on the regular District 2 election next March.

Apparently, he’s changed his mind.

While walking neighborhoods for the 2020 election, popular demand drafted him back in, Arballo said.

“I didn’t want to let them down,” Arballo said.

Also, Oscar Sandoval filed to run in the special election.

He is a former children’s therapist, who is studying public policy via an online USC program. He worked on TJ Cox’s campaign last year.

“I feel that I can present a better vision for Fresno than what is currently being offered. We have a lot of potential, but we are not really capitalizing on it,” Sandoval said. “Fresno is a city on the rise, but I feel we can do a lot more.”

And, just as Politics 101 went to press, an entrant by the name of George Herman filed to run.

Papers need to be returned by 5 p.m. Friday to for a candidate to be on the ballot.

Former Valadao’s Chief Starts Firm

Tal Eslick

Tal Eslick, the chief of staff to former congressman David Valadao (R-Hanford), has a new gig.

He’s started his own consulting agency, Eslick Public Affairs.

“My broad public service and private sector experience make me uniquely suited to solve problems for businesses up and down the 99. The Central Valley is still home for me and I plan to spend a lot of time there in the future!” Eslick said.

The Fresno State grad will base his venture out of Sacramento.

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