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Candidate with Strong Ties to Swearengin Joins Race for Fresno Mayor



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The 2020 Fresno mayoral election has a new entrant. Elliott Balch, chief operating officer of the Central Valley Community Foundation, filed paperwork with the city clerk Wednesday.

Photo of GV Wire's David Taub

David Taub

Politics 101

Balch also spearheaded the Measure P campaign to raise the city’s sales tax for parks improvements. That effort fell short in 2018.

Former Mayor Ashley Swearengin is the foundation’s CEO. When she was mayor, Balch was her downtown revitalization manager from 2009-2014.

He is the fourth announced entrant into the mayoral race, joining Police Chief Jerry Dyer, Fresno City Councilman Luis Chavez and Fresno County Deputy District Attorney Andrew Janz. Dyer publicly announced his candidacy Wednesday.

Mayor Lee Brand announced last week he would not seek a second term, creating a campaign free-for-all.

The election takes place March 3, 2020.

Lindsey Graham in Town

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) speaks at a Fresno fundraiser (Special to GV Wire)

At the same time Special Counsel Robert Mueller held his closely watched news conference, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) met with about 100 or so at a fundraiser in Fresno.

The event, held at Harris Construction near Fresno-Yosemite International Airport, was closed to the media. A very nice gentleman told Politics 101 to scram.

Attendees, including Jerry Dyer — hours away from his own news conference announcing his mayoral run — said Graham hit the conservative high notes: immigration, President Trump, and taking back the House in 2020.

Former congressman David Valadao attended, but declined to say anything more than hello.

TJ Cox Takes Urban Colleague on Ag Tour

Reps. TJ Cox (left) and Barbara Lee (right) meet to embark on an agriculture tour Wednesday. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Down the road from Harris Construction, Reps. TJ Cox (D-Fresno) arranged for a House colleague, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) to tour Valley agriculture. Their guides included Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen and Alyssa Houtby, public affairs director of California Citrus Mutual.

Last weekend, Cox hosted Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona), chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources.

“We invited them to the district so they have first-hand working knowledge of the challenges that face, certainly, our community and ag industry here in the Central Valley,” Cox said.

Lee, who chairs the agriculture rural development subcommittee, appreciated the invitation.

“This is the breadbasket of America. As the appropriator, I’m really pleased to be able to work with Congressman Cox to look at what all the priorities are for his district and the ag sector,” Lee said.

She said she once brought a cow to a school to help battle the Bay Area perception of where food really comes from.

“We try to educate people about the nexus and the connection between urban and rural communities,” Lee said. Her goal is to create more unity between the two groups.

Cox says he hopes these visits help moves the needle on solving water, farm labor and immigration issues.

P.S.: As the photo above indicates, Cox, farmer Grant Parnagian (in the background) and yours truly all shop for our shirts at Costco.

Karbassi Not a Progressive PAC Member

Earlier this month, GV Wire reported Fresno City Council candidate Mike Karbassi was a member of the Central Valley Progressive PAC, based on the group’s information on its website.

Mike Rhodes, the PAC’s founder, says that information was a mistake.

While Karbassi did give a small donation to the group, it was not for a membership as Rhodes thought.

“I’m sorry for the confusion,” Rhodes said. “I wish he was a member, but given the demographics of the district, it doesn’t play well.”

Karbassi is one of six candidates for the vacant council seat representing northwest Fresno. The special election is Aug. 13.

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