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Fresno Attorney Latest Entrant for Bredefeld’s Termed-Out Council Seat



Roger Bonakdar (left) joins the race for Fresno City Council District 6 with announced candidates Nickolas Richardson and Justin St. George. (GV Wire Composite/David Rodriguez)
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Attorney Roger Bonakdar jumped into the race for a northeast Fresno city council seat.

David Taub

Politics 101

He is the third candidate to file for the open Fresno City Council District 6 seat. The primary is scheduled for March 5, 2024. Current councilman Garry Bredefeld is termed out.

Bonakdar, 41, has represented such clients as Firebaugh city clerk Amanda Fleming (currently charged with election fraud), the student that accused then-Fresno Unified trustee Terry Slatic of assault, and former congressional candidate Elizabeth Heng.

Already filing to run: Justin St. George and Nickolas Richardson.

If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the top two candidates will advance to the November 2024 general election.

Bonakdar is registered without party preference; St. George is also registered with no party preference; Richardson is a Republican.

Also in Politics 101 …

  • Will Patterson run for tax office?
  • Does Woman of the Year of a conflict of interest?
  • List of local Women of the Year winners.
  • Court case involving pepper spray/Palestinian flag incident continues.

Will Patterson Run for Tax Office?

Official Assembly portrait of Assemblyman Jim Patterson

Jim Patterson

Jim Patterson flirted with the idea of running for Fresno County supervisor, eventually deciding not to. He may have found another race in 2026.

Patterson, R-Fresno, filed paperwork to run for the state Board of Equalization. He has more than $444,000 remaining in his 2022 Assembly account.

He is in his last term as a state assemblyman representing Fresno.

Two other elected officials filed to run for the BOE seat, currently held by Ted Gaines — who will term out.

Nelson Esparza, D-Fresno, reported $106,000 raised through Dec. 31 for a 2026 run for the Board of Equalization.

Nelson, who is on the Fresno City Council, held a Dec. 7, 2022 fundraiser at the Cracked Pepper Bistro in Fresno. Several developers gave to Esparza’s campaign, before a Jan. 1 deadline that would have limited such contributions to $250 each.

State Senator Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, also filed to run for the Board of Equalization but has not reported fundraising for her BOE account. She does have $105,507 remaining in her state Senate campaign account that could be transferred.

Patterson’s campaign team did not respond to a request for comment.

It could be all for naught. A group of Democratic legislators introduced a constitutional amendment on Tuesday that would eliminate the Board of Equalization. Legislators tried eliminating the BOE before, last in 2019, but it did not even receive a vote.

Does Woman of the Year Islas Have a Conflict?

Fresno Unified Trustee Veva Isals is the Assembly District 31 “Woman of the Year,” Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, announced.

Islas is the program director of nonprofit Cultiva La Salud. She also sits on the board of nonprofit Fresno Building Healthy Communities.

Fresno BHC has received hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars. Most of it was for COVID response. In its 2020 tax filing, Fresno BHC lists a $453,116 contract with Cultiva La Salud for “COVID equity.”

Does this pose a conflict of interest because of Islas’ dual roles? Experts that Politics 101 spoke with say not necessarily. It depends on Fresno BHC’s conflict of interest policy.

“A conflict itself isn’t necessarily a problem. It is a problem if the conflict isn’t disclosed and handled in accordance with the organization’s policies,” Rick Cohen, COO of the National Council of Nonprofits, said.

Joan Harrington, with the Santa Clara University Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, said it is OK to have nonprofit leaders on the boards of other nonprofit boards.

“It’s not that unusual to have a situation where there’s a person on the board who’s intimately involved in the same work. So this can come up in a really benign way, and it can also come up in a really bad way,” Harrington said.

Politics 101 asked Fresno BHC for a copy of its policy but did not receive a response. Nonprofits are not required to publish their policies or meeting minutes on their websites.

Islas did not respond to Politics 101’s request for comment.

Other Women of the Year

Each state legislator nominated a Woman of the Year for their district. Other local honorees include:

— Senate District 4: Anamika S. Chand (Sen. Marie Alvarado-Gil, D-Jackson)

— Senate District 12: Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp (Sen. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield)

— Senate District 14: Tamara Cobb (Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Merced)

— Senate District 16: Corcoran Unified educator Lola Lerma (Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Bakersfield)

— Assembly District 8: Naomi Tobias with the Central California Animal Disaster Team (Assemblyman Jim Patterson, D-Fresno)

— Assembly District 27: Merced City Manager Stephanie Dietz (Assemblywoman Esmeralda Soria, D-Fresno)

— Assembly District 32: Tulare County Deputy District Attorney Kelly Habroun (Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield)

— Assembly District 33: former Congresswoman Connie Conway (Assemblyman Devon Mathis, R-Porterville)

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp (left) was nominated as district Woman of the Year by state Sen. Shannon Grove. (Office of Shannon Grove)

Man Accused of Pepper Spraying Flag-Waving Protesters Awaits Verdict

It’s been nearly two years since a Fresno man was arrested for allegedly pepper-spraying protesters during an anti-Israel protest. Brian Turner will have to wait a bit longer to learn his fate.

Watch: Pepper Spray Incident at 2021 Fresno Protest

Last week, his preliminary hearing was delayed again. Turner’s attorney, Marc Kapetan, and prosecutor Brian Exline are busy with other cases and haven’t found a time to settle the issue in the courtroom. They will try again on April 20.

Turner faces three counts of unlawfully using tear gas with three hate crime enhancements during a May 15 incident as he was driving home past the demonstration.

Video posted by the alleged victims shows a Palestinian flag being waved at Turner as he awaited a stoplight at Nees and Blackstone avenues in May 2021. The alleged victims asked Turner to honk if he supported Palestine. When Turner declined, the two sides began arguing. One of the alleged victims got out of a car and approached Turner’s car. Turner responded with pepper spray before driving off.

“He was an innocent bystander driving by,” Kapetan said describing the incident.

Exline had no comment.

Brian Turner, accused of pepper-spraying pro-Palestinian protesters, attends a March 16 court hearing. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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