An argument can be made that the most rambunctious thing about Clovis is the annual rodeo.
Could its sleepy political scene follow?
Voters rarely have the chance to elect a new councilmember. With no term limits, once a city councilmember is elected, they tend to stay for decades. In November, three positions are on the same at-large ballot. There are two open seats.
Only one incumbent is running, Drew Bessinger. Current councilmen Jose Flores and Bob Whalen are not running for re-election. Flores says he is stepping down when his term expires in December; Whalen was elected as Fresno County Superior Court judge in June.
An incumbent has not lost a re-election since 1994 (Dave Lawson).
Seven others have pulled papers to run, including police chief Matt Basgall.
Local Republican leader Diane Pearce also filed to run. She ran in 2021, missing the cut for election. She finished in third with 36% behind Vong Mouanoutoua (54%) and Lynne Ashbeck (53%). Pearce has been a frequent commentator on TV, radio and print.
A newcomer considering running is Josh Phanco, a 45-year old insurance agent. Born and raised in Fresno, Phanco also worked in sports marketing for the Fresno Grizzlies.
Bessinger and Basgall are Republicans. Phanco is no party preference.
Why might this matter? Of the city’s 73,000 registered voters, 44% are Republican; 30% are Democrat, and 18% are no party preference.
Others who have pulled papers include:
- Michael Stewart
- Martin Salas
- Carlos G. Mendoza
- Guy Redner
One name not on the list is Mason Magsig, the 18-year-old son of former councilman and current Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig. Mason tells Politics 101 he wants to run one day, just not in 2022.
The deadline to file, with an incumbent not running, is Aug. 17.
Also in Politics 101 …
- Jim Patterson is not running unopposed, after all.
- No late last call for Fresno, after all.
- Elected official resigns because he moves.
- Law firms merge in Fresno.
Patterson Has Opponent in November
It turns out Jim Patterson will have an election opponent after all.
Patterson, R-Fresno, was the only name on the June primary ballot. Tom Nichols, Libertarian-Squaw Valley, qualified as a write-in, garnering 15 votes in Assembly District 8. The district stretches across seven counties, with most voters in Fresno.
Financial records show Patterson has $507,860 cash on hand; Nichols has not filed his fundraising forms. If Patterson wins, he will serve his sixth and final term in Sacramento before reaching his statutory limit.
Nichols told CalMatters he wants “to raise the issues he sees in his local community, especially the increased cost of living due to fire threats – specifically, homeowner and property insurance.”
Fresno No Longer Part of 4 a.m. Last Call Bill
Last call will remain at 2 a.m. in Fresno. A bill currently being debated in Sacramento would allow seven pilot cities, including Fresno, to set rules allowing drinking establishments to extend their closing time to 4 a.m.
After an outcry from an unusual Fresno City Council alliance of Garry Bredefeld, Miguel Arias and Tyler Maxwell, Fresno will no longer participate.
“This effort to keep Fresno bars open until 4am from 2am is reckless and dangerous and @FresnoPolice will be burdened. That’s why I, along with @Maxwell4Fresno and @MiguelArias_D3 are bringing a Council resolution forward on 8/11 opposing this stupidity,” Bredefeld wrote on Twitter.
Mayor Jerry Dyer apparently heard the message.
“Given recent anxiety on a local level related to potential unintended consequences of SB 930, I cannot let a divisive debate on this issue disrupt Fresno’s positive momentum on so many fronts — including our growing Downton Fulton entertainment district, the small area that could have benefited under your bill,” Dyer wrote to the bill’s author, Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco.
Wiener’s office confirms to Politics 101 that Fresno will be removed when the bill is is heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Aug. 11.
Read Dyer’s Letter
Mackey Resigns from Pinedale Position
Tyler Mackey is no longer an elected member of the Pinedale County Water District. He resigned in May from the agency that provides water and sewer services to 16,000 residents in north Fresno.
“Last month (in April), I moved out of the district and am no longer qualified to serve as a board member. It has been an honor to serve and I wish you all and the district the best of luck going forward,” Mackey wrote to the board in May.
The board appointed Alex Valdez to the vacancy.
Mackey is best known as the leader of the Tower District Marketing Committee.
Fresno Law Firms Merge
Two prominent Fresno lawyers are merging their firm with another outfit.
Betts & Rubin will now be part of Whitney, Thompson & Jeffcoach, the firms announced in a news release. That means Jim Betts and Joe Rubin will now be working for WTJ.
“They will be assets to our team due to their experience and expertise,” WTJ partner Kristi Marshall said in a news release. “We value their deep-rooted, well-deserved respect earned in the legal community.”