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Fundraising Tightens in Open Fresno Council Seat Race

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From L to R, Cary Catalano, Annalisa Perea and Jeremy Preis are vying for the Fresno City Council District 1 seat. (GV Wire Composite/Justine Cha)
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Cary Catalano rebounded with his fundraising numbers, as he is getting closer to Annalisa Perea for the District 1 Fresno City Council seat.

Catalano, Perea and Jeremy Preis are the only three candidates who have raised money for the west Fresno seat held by Esmeralda Soria, who is termed out. The election is scheduled for June 7, 2022. If a candidate does not win a a majority, the top two will advance to a November 2022 election before being sworn in January 2023.

Both Catalano and Perea said they’ve been busy.

“I am proud of the work our team has done over the past six months. I’ve knocked on over 13,000 doors throughout District 1 which has allowed me to personally share my vision for the future of the City of Fresno. I am confident that my campaign will have all the resources it will need to be a very successful campaign,” Catalano said via email.

Perea got off to a big head start last year, raising a monster $122,553 compared to Catalano’s $1,672.

“My fundraising efforts reflect the strong support that I have from the business and labor communities, as well as the residents whose doors I’ve knocked on over the last six months. My message has been resonating and they understand that I will be a strong, independent voice for Fresno,” Perea said via text message. “We have a game plan in motion which includes continuing to connect with the voters of District 1 every single day.”

In figures reported for the period from January-June 2021, Catalano is catching up. He raised $111,402 compared to Perea’s $85,579.

Preis, a former Fresno police officer turned insurance agent, reported funds of $7,028 after entering the race in March. He declined to comment on his fundraising.

Inside District 1 Numbers

Catalano, 47, a Democrat like Perea, picked up a maximum $4,900 check from the campaign of Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes, a Republican. Supervisor Steve Brandau, also a Republican, contributed $1,000.

Like many running for office, Catalano picked up contributions from the development community. Ginder Real Estate, C-III Construction, two members of The Alvarado Group, Tom Richards of The Penstar Group and Richard Spencer were among those who gave Catalano the maximum of $4,900 each.

Former Fresno Mayor Lee Brand contributed $1,000.

Some notable expenses for Catalano — he owes nearly $5,000 in consulting fees to Suzanne Bertz-Rosa. The two have partnered on public relations work in the past. Catalano has also used the services of Terra Brusseau and her Central Valley Group at a cost of $2,000.

Perea, 34, also received real estate dollars — $4,900 from Desantis Commercial; $4,900 from Penstar’s Richards (giving to both candidates); $4,700 from Lance-Kashian & Company; and Jeffrey Roberts of The Assemi Group contributed $1,000.

Perea’s father, former Fresno city councilmember and county supervisor Henry R. Perea, contributed $200 in this cycle, adding to a $4,700 donation last year.

Most of the contributions for Republican Preis, 48, were in the $100-$200 range. His top contributor was $1,500 from consultant Andrea Russo.

Other Officeholders Report Funds

Fundraising for city of Fresno elections is no longer restricted to the year of the election.

Three other city councilmembers face 2022 elections, but no opponents have filed to run against them.

District 3 Councilmember Miguel Arias and District 5 Councilmember Luis Chavez raised more than $77,000 each for the first six months of 2021. District 7 Councilmember Nelson Esparza raised $63,300.

Notable Numbers

Some notables for Arias — Kyle Kirkland, the CEO of Club One Casino, contributed $1,000. The City Council voted last week to delay a vote to permit Club One to move from downtown to the Granite Park area. Billboard company Outfront contributed $2,400. The company has engaged in city business regarding electronic billboards along Highway 168. Developer Richard Spencer — who is accustomed to hosting fundraisers for national conservative figures — gave $4,900 to the progressive Arias.

Arias spent $1,951 for a fundraiser at Modernist.

Chavez received his share from the real estate/development industry. Bonadelle Homes ($4,900), Kashian Enterprises ($9,600 combined for primary and general), and Cook Land Company ($3,500) gave to his campaign.

The District 5 councilmember also received union dollars from UA Local 246 Plumbers and Pipefitters Cope Committee ($5,000), the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local No. 104 PAC ($4,900), and UFCW 8 Golden State ($4,400).

A fundraiser at Simonian Farms cost more than $3,000.

Like Arias, Esparza received a $2,500 check from Outfront along with similar union support like Chavez.

Esparza paid back $5,450 in loans to himself at no interest. He spent $154 at the Yard House restaurant for a consultant meeting

No Election Coming, But Still Fundraising

Mayor Jerry Dyer has already started on his 2024 re-election campaign. He raised nearly $70,000.

Tyler Maxwell, representing east central Fresno as the District 4 councilmember, raised $62,050.

Maxwell received money from developers, unions and others who have business in front of the city. He used his money to pay his consultants including Nabil Kherfan ($5,700), who now serves as a council assistant; Jim Veros via Royal Oak Strategies ($2,010) and Jason Carns ($4,000, with another $12,000 owed).

District 6 Councilmember Garry Bredefeld, in his second and final term, did not report any fundraising. His financial report included five entries for meetings at restaurants, nearing $300 at Richard’s, and George’s Shish Kebab.

District 2 Councilmember Mike Karbassi spent some of his campaign funds on others running for council, including Perea and Chavez.

Fundraising by the Numbers, 2022 Candidates

District Candidate Fundraising Jan-Jun 2021 Expenses Jan-Jun 2021 Cash on hand
1 Cary Catalano $ 111,402 $ 39,055 $ 80,283
1 Annalisa Perea $ 85,579 $ 18,042 $ 187,511
1 Jeremy Preis $ 7,028 $ 3,304 $ 4,494
3 Miguel Arias $ 77,259 $ 16,745 $ 61,411
5 Luis Chavez $ 77,600 $ 6,736 $ 89,809
7 Nelson Esparza $ 63,300 $ 13,031 $ 65,792

Fundraising for Other City Officeholders

District Officeholder Fundraising Jan-Jun 2021 Expenses Jan-Jun 2021 Cash on hand
2 Mike Karbassi $5,400 $4,532 $13,960
4 Tyler Maxwell $62,050 $28,237 $40,969
6 Garry Bredefeld $0 $1,988 $246,904
Mayor Jerry Dyer $69,666 $33,752 $61,354

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

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