The Fowler Police Department recused itself from the investigation, handing it over to the sheriff’s office to investigate the allegations against Tucker, formerly the city manager of Fresno when she was known as Wilma Quan and Wilma Quan-Schecter.
Fowler businesswoman Zaida España accused Tucker of assault in an incident on Oct. 3, 2023, outside of City Hall chambers.
“We concluded an investigation a while ago into an alleged battery where Wilma Tucker was named as the suspect. It was ruled to be unfounded, meaning no crime occurred. The District Attorney is not filing charges either,” sheriff spokesman Tony Botti said.
Scott Cross, the city attorney for Fowler, addressed the investigation at the Dec. 19, 2023, city council meeting. He said the sheriff’s office handled the investigation for “the sake of impartiality and independence.”
“A preponderance of the evidence does not support a finding that Miss Tucker physically grabbed and pulled Miss España in an abrasive manner. Any touching that may have occurred was not an intentional and unlawful use of force intended to cause harm to Mrs. España,” Cross said.
The investigation also found that Tucker did not abuse her authority.
The city received complaints about Tucker and Yvonne Hernandez, the city’s senior center supervisor, from España.
Hernandez was accused of bias. A third-party investigator determined the allegation was unfounded.
“When you have God with you, you are unmoved,” Hernandez said, speaking at the meeting.
España spoke at the Dec. 19 meeting, casting doubt on the city’s role in recusal.
Reaction to Sheriff’s Findings
“It is unfortunate that council have decided to turn a blind eye and shield city employees from accountability because we legitimately have filed a complaint in regards to the favoritism, in regards to the stuff that’s going on,” España said.
Tucker responded at the meeting, saying the time and money spent on the investigations was “frivolous.”
“The findings are a relief to me. I knew what they were going to be. It was a big distraction,” Tucker said. “It’s embarrassing to me that we have to go through all this.”
Several city councilmembers praised Tucker and Hernandez during their Dec. 19 comments. They compared how things in the city are more transparent than prior city manager David Elias, who was sentenced in 2021 to probation and ordered to make restitution for misappropriation of funds.
España was arrested on attempted murder charges on Oct. 11, for an alleged incident with her husband. She denied the allegations. A DA spokesperson said that the District Attorney’s office declined to prosecute the case for insufficient evidence.
Responding to Politics 101 after the story initially published, Tucker referred to her comments made on Dec. 19.
Zante’s New Job
Blake Zante is now executive director of the Maddy Institute at Fresno State. It is a return to campus for Zante, where he once served as student body president.
The Maddy Institute is an on-campus think tank that promotes democracy and problem-solving and offers scholarships for students working in government.
Zante recently served as district representative for now-former Congressman Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield. McCarthy resigned on Sunday. Although residents of the 20th Congressional District are without representation in Washington, D.C., the office remains open to provide federal services.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to represent Congressman McCarthy in Fresno and Kings Counties and to serve the constituents of the 20th Congressional District. And, it has been a pleasure to work with you. Thank you for your service to the community and for the help and assistance you have provided to our office this year. I look forward to working with you in my new role,” Zante said in a recent email to supporters.
Zante replaces the retiring Mark Keppler.
A Consolidated Election Won’t Save As Originally Thought
Gov. Gavin Newsom has until Jan. 14 to call for a special election to fill the seat vacated by McCarthy. If he does so by Jan. 2, the primary could be consolidated with the March 5 election.
Initially, Fresno County Election Clerk James Kus said consolidation could save the county as much as $300,000.
Now, he is saying it may be too late to save on costs. Because a special election would have an unknown amount of candidates, and require an unknown amount of space on the ballot, it would be costly to redesign the ballot.
It is different than 2022 when Fresno County voters chose a new member of Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Rep. Devin Nunes. The special election was consolidated with the regularly scheduled June 2022 election. However, the clerk knew how many candidates would be on the ballot (two, since the primary was held in April of that year), and had plenty of time to plan the ballot accordingly.