Andrew Janz says a proposed policy by the Fresno County Board of Supervisors is aimed to prevent him running for Fresno mayor.

His campaign sent his employer, Fresno County, a letter arguing that forcing employees running for public office to take time off is illegal.

Janz and Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer are the two major declared candidates running for mayor. The election is set for March 2020.

“The Board of Supervisors would be committing a gross abuse of power, but also an illegal one should they pass this.” — Andrew Janz

Janz, a Fresno County prosecutor, said the authors of the rule — supervisors Buddy Mendes and Nathan Magsig —  “made it specifically clear they are targeting” him.

Proposal on Hold

The proposal was on the supervisors’ Aug. 6 agenda but got pulled at the request of labor unions wanting more time to examine the policy.

It would require candidates to take two-to-three pay periods off prior to the election.

When Janz ran for Congress in 2018, his detractors accused him of campaigning on the public’s time. His boss, District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp, shot down those accusations. During the current mayoral campaign, Janz has deferred any GV Wire inquiries until after work hours.

The policy has many exceptions, including current officeholders and department heads (like Smittcamp), those seeking offices that don’t pay a full-time salary (like Janz’s prosecuting colleague Bob Whalen — a Clovis City Council member which isn’t a full-time job), judicial candidates (like Janz’s former colleagues Robert Mangano and Billy Terrance who won judge seats last year) or those running unopposed.

Janz Campaign Critical

“The Board of Supervisors would be committing a gross abuse of power, but also an illegal one should they pass this,” Janz said in a news release. “People should not be penalized for wanting to serve their community. I will not stand by and let this happen to myself or any other county employee who wishes to run for office. My wife is pregnant with our first child and losing our healthcare would be devastating and dangerous. I’ve always stood up for what’s right and this is no exception.”

Mendes, in a brief comment to Politics 101, didn’t think much of Janz’s letter.

“I thought it was very childish,” Mendes said. He added that the proposal may come back for a vote, but he provided no specific date.

Magsig said the policy does not target any one individual and that the proposal responds to community concerns about candidates running for office on county time.

“It is meant to apply to everyone equally to provide flexibility to the employees,” Magsig said. He noted that it applies to many of the 7,300 county employees who hold elected office for positions like school boards and special districts. He said state law prevents them from setting regulations on current elected officials.

The Central Labor Council is backing Janz in opposing the proposal. Janz said his campaign would take legal action if necessary.

County Calls Janz Campaign Misinformed

The county, through counsel Daniel Cederborg, responded to Janz’s campaign manager Mari Harren on Thursday afternoon.

“Unfortunately, you apparently have been very misinformed regarding the factual background around this proposal as well as its practical and legal effect,” Cederborg wrote.

Cederborg said the policy is needed to create uniformity with all county employees and does not target any individuals. However, he did reference Janz’s earlier congressional bid.

The letter said Janz requested up to 60 days off to run, but department policy would not allow for more than 30, upsetting him.

“Now Mr. Janz appears to favor the existing County policy when it is convenient for his publicity needs. It is disingenuous that Mr. Janz is now complaining about any effort to formalize rules related to leave for employees seeking public office that would allow for the type of extended leave he initially sought for himself,” Cederborg said.

Janz Campaign Letter to County



Counsel Letter v1 0 (Text)

County Response Letter



Letter Dated 08 29 19 (Text)

Letter Dated 08 29 19 (Text)

3 Responses

    • Howard K. Watkins

      Thank you for including the actual correspondence. One major problem I see with the County’s proposal is that if an elected County official (e.g. Sheriff, DA, Assessor, etc.) is up for re-election, that official would not have to take leave of her or his office. However, a deputy or a high-ranking assistant in that office would have to take a leave of absence. I think this double standard is a fatal flaw in the proposal.

      Reply
  1. Steven Woodruff

    Unequal treatment of currently elected officials running and those not running as incumbents leave this a hopelessly legally flawed position. They will lose, as they should, if it goes to a court decision. It’s foolish even to be trying. They certainly have some poor legal counsel even to suggest that this is a reasonable restriction on a new candidate.

    Reply

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