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Mark Salazar still wants to be Fresno’s next police chief.

As he did last year, the longtime captain applied for the position, Salazar tells Politics 101.

Photo of GV Wire's David Taub

David Taub

Politics 101

Chief Andy Hall faces mandatory retirement next spring. He was the surprise winner in last year’s search to replace the retiring (and now mayor-elect) Jerry Dyer.

Even though the city engaged in outreach to the community and full interview sessions with candidates, Mayor Lee Brand went off the board drafting Hall, who didn’t even apply for the job. At the time, Hall was a deputy chief.

Applications were due in the latest search last week. The next step is scheduling interview panels.

This time, three members of the Fresno City Council will be on the panel: Miguel Arias, Nelson Esparza, and Mike Karbassi.

“We’re currently reviewing the applications and will announce the next steps in the near future,” City Hall spokesman Mark Standriff said.

Dyer said he helped review the recruitment flyer. Just today, the city reached out to him to discuss the next step of the recruitment process.

Hall said he has not been part of choosing his successor.

“I have not been involved in the recruitment process and at this time I do not have any information on candidates or the selection process,” Hall emailed Politics 101.

Fresno Deputy Chief Mike Reid was a finalist in 2019. He would not say if he applied this time.


Also in Politics 101: 

  • What the city’s Immigrant Affairs Committee has been up to.
  • The latest accusations against Buddy Mendes and the Board of Supervisors.
  • Zante officially a candidate for school board; Gaston is out.
  • Update to the Central Unified race.

Who Won’t Be Chief

At least two people who applied last year won’t be candidates this time around. Greg Garner recently accepted the police chief position in Sanger. He had previously been Selma’s police chief after 30 years with Fresno PD.

Trevor Womack, a deputy chief with the Stockton Police department, said he has not applied. He was a finalist for the Fresno position last year.

No Vision, but a Recommendation from Immigrant Affairs Committee

The Fresno Immigrant Affairs Committee still does not have an official purpose. The 15-member board, appointed by the Fresno City Council and Mayor Lee Brand, briefly discussed what its mission and vision statement should be, but for the second meeting in a row did vote on the statement.

The proposed mission is “to promote the well-being and integration of Fresno’s diverse community of immigrants, expatriates, asylees and refugees by supporting their civic and cultural integration, while also elevating their unique perspective and personal experiences.”

The committee voted for its first recommendation to the city council —  apply for a Gateways for Growth grant to help integrate immigrants into the economy.

The committee also heard a presentation from attorney Lazaro Salazar about fraud in immigration services, particularly “notarios.”

Marcelino Valdez, who was councilman Garry Bredefeld’s recent appointee to the committee, did not attend the meeting held via Zoom video conferencing.

County Accused of Open Meeting Law Violations

Official portrait of Buddy Mendes

“I don’t want to respond to chronic complainers. … Anybody can accuse anybody of anything.”Supervisor Buddy Mendes

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors is accused of violating the state’s open meeting law.

In a letter sent last week, the Leadership Counsel for Justice & Accountability said the board improperly discussed plans to respond to the pandemic in closed session.

“Discussions about COVID-19 are matters of great public interest and discussion that should be held in an open and transparent process,” Phoebe Seaton of the LCJA wrote.

Buddy Mendes, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, deferred a response to county counsel but did tell Politics 101, “I don’t want to respond to chronic complainers. … Anybody can accuse anybody of anything.”

The county says it is preparing an official response to the letter.

LCJA also accusesd the county of violating the Brown Act by not allowing for the community to call or video teleconference into the meeting, and not providing proper access to non-English speakers.

At its Aug. 4 meeting, Mendes cut off a Spanish-speaking resident without allowing a translation because time was up.

The letter asked the board to correct its mistakes within 90 days.

Gavin’s Law Fails

“Gavin’s Law” officially failed on Wednesday when its sponsor, Assemblyman Jim Patterson (D-Fresno) opted not to seek a second vote from the state Senate Public Safety Committee.

The law would stiffen penalties for hit-and-run drivers when they cause death. Patterson said it eliminates softer penalties for suspected DUI drivers who flee and cannot be tested for impairment.

The bill was named for Gavin Gladding, the Clovis Unified educator killed by a driver in 2018. The driver fled the scene and was believed to be impaired. The suspect eventually was sentenced to three years and served 18 months. He would have faced a longer term if prosecutors could have proven drunken driving.

Despite emotional testimony from widow Susan Gladding last week, the legislation only received three votes. It needed four. Patterson asked for reconsideration at the next meeting, which was Wednesday.

“I am thankful for the Gladding family, who have been willing to fight until the end to show just how devastating it is when justice is not served,” Patterson said in a news release.

Patterson, through his office, said he is unsure if he will introduce the bill again next year. It depends on the wishes of the Gladding family.

Zante In, Gaston Out for School Board Race

Interesting developments in a school board race under the radar — Blake Zante is in for the Fresno County Board of Education, and Gail Gaston is out.

Zante is the former Fresno State student body president now working as an aide to state Sen. Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno). Gaston is a long-time Democratic Party activist.

Two candidates will be listed on the ballot to replace Mike Robinson, the longtime trustee who opted not to run. In addition to Zante, Bryan Burton — an analyst with Fresno County — qualified to run. Although it is a nonpartisan race, both men are Republicans.

Zante flirted with running, playing Hokey Pokey with filing until he finally entered the race one day before the deadline.

“I’m focused on working with our local education leaders to improve the following: 1) job training programs, 2) creating pipelines to our Valley’s universities, and 3) serving as a voice for students, teachers, and families,” Zante told Politics 101 by email.

Burton said his school-aged children motivated his run.

“It’s really providing paths for people to find really what is going to be best for (all children), for their future and how they can lay that out,” Burton said.

Blake Zante, left, and Bryan Burton are candidates for the Fresno County Board of Education.

Gaston initially qualified but withdrew from the race on Wednesday.

The move didn’t impress Clara Varner, local Democratic Party operative and former president of the Fresno County Young Democrats.

“Gail Gaston has played the local Democratic Party once again,” Varner tweeted.

One Other Late Entrant

The filing period to run for school board has officially closed. Updating the list from earlier this week, a fourth candidate qualified for a vacant Central Unified school board seat.

Sandra Flores, who works for the consulting firm RHA, Inc., is running. She joins farmer Jeremy Mehling, businessman Richard Martinez, and community activist Stacy Williams.

Terry Cox is leaving her position as trustee, a post she’s held for 20 years.

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