Jerry Dyer still has eight months until he takes office as mayor of Fresno. The coronavirus pandemic has slowed his transition.
“The hope is at some point we get this COVID-19 behind us and then I can start putting together my transition team. We have a number of folks I am going to be approaching to be a part of that,” Dyer tells Politics 101.
Also in Politics 101:
- Dyer on handling a second wave of coronavirus.
- Catalano announces a council run for 2022.
- Fresno City Council receives a letter claiming money to undocumented immigrants is illegal.
- Ruben Zarate is new local leader of Democrats.
Dyer promises he will bring new leadership to City Hall.
“They’re definitely going to be changes happening. I’ll definitely be bringing in new people. Some people will remain within the administration. But every administration brings in a new team. The importance is blending that team with folks that are already in place to make sure that we’re growing in the right direction,” Dyer said.
Dyer talked about what he is looking for in filling key posts.
“I want people who share my vision, who share my passion. People who work hard. People who are honest, who care about the people of Fresno, who are owners. People that really are going to do everything that they can make Fresno a better place to live. Those are the people that I want on my team and people who cannot get in step with those types of criteria, they’re going to have to find another place to work within our organization, frankly,” Dyer said.
Preparing for A Second Wave
Dyer said he would consult federal and state guidelines if the city experienced another wave of COVID-19 while he is in office. But, he hopes for a level of regional control.
Hospital visits and ICU stays would be key indicators, he said.
“My hope would be that we never have to do this again in our country and specifically within our city, that we have to shut down businesses. It just doesn’t feel right to see a business be told that they can’t open and a person told they can’t go to work and for their federal government or the state government not to reimburse those individuals at 100%. … But I also understand the need to protect people, especially the most vulnerable,” Dyer said.
Fresno City Council 2022 Race Is On
The primary for Fresno City Council 2022 elections is less than two years away. There will be at least one open seat.
Esmeralda Soria will term out for the District 1 seat representing west-central Fresno and part of the Tower District.
Marketing professional Cary Catalano, who lost to Soria in 2014 by five percentage points, says he’s running again.
“The same core fundamentals of why I ran are still the same fundamentals that are in place today. I absolutely feel that economic development, fiscal responsibility, and neighborhood revitalization are the cornerstone of what I want to do,” Catalano said.
Catalano hopes to regain labor support he felt he lost in 2014 over Measure G, a failed effort to privatize residential garbage collection.
“I think that created a simple divide between me and my natural support base that I’ve had throughout my whole political experience,” Catalano said. “I think that time heals all wounds and I’m excited to move forward and work with all groups again to get a measure of that.”
Another candidate insiders are talking about is State Center Community College District Trustee Analisa Perea. She tells Politics 101 that she is “looking into it.”
“I’ve received overwhelming encouragement from community leaders, elected officials, business leaders, and constituents to represent them on the city council. At the present moment, my focus is on serving our community college students and greater community as a trustee to ensure we are resilient during this pandemic,” Perea said.
The Perea name is familiar at City Hall. Her father, Henry R. Perea, represented District 7 from 1997 to 2003. Brother Henry T. Perea succeeded their father in District 7, serving 2003-2011.
Catalano had a message for potential opponents: “We will be carefully examining your record — what you’ve done, what you will do, and how you relate the truth and policy. That will be key to me, because this time I will be much more aggressive in terms of making sure that we message correctly, but also point out the flaws of my opponents.”
Center for American Liberty Opposes City Money for Undocumented
At its April 23 meeting, the Fresno City Council voted to create a $1.5 million Consumer Grant Program to help Fresnans with their rental bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the criteria is to be a city resident, but not necessarily a resident of the United States. In response, the Center for American Liberty sent the city a letter this week, saying such a practice is illegal.
“Any cash payments by a local government to undocumented immigrants for rent assistance violates federal law,” the San Francisco-based organization wrote, citing a variety of federal statutes.
The Center, founded by civil rights attorney Harmeet Dhillon, said it also violates state law, and may not be reimbursed by the $92 million the city received in federal stimulus funds.
“We respectfully request that the City of Fresno reconsider its April 23, 2020 Resolution by not implementing the Program in any form,” the letter said.
The plan, authored by Soria, is designed to provide financial relief to those who could not easily receive federal stimulus funds. She said that included residents of mixed-legal status families.
Dhillon’s group filed a lawsuit to prevent the state from giving taxpayer money to undocumented immigrants.
However, the California Supreme Court on Wednesday denied the bid to block the state’s first-in-the-nation plan to give money to immigrants living in the country illegally who are hurt by the coronavirus.
Zarate Voted New Local Democratic Leader
The Fresno County Democratic Party elected labor leader Ruben Zarate as its new chairman.
He is the third person to hold the post this year. Long-time chairman Michael Evans resigned earlier this year to work for the state party. Andy Hansen-Smith succeeded Evans, but failed to win the election to the central committee this past March, a prerequisite to holding the top county leadership position.