Fresno City Council District 2 is homework heaven.
Five candidates are vying to succeed incumbent Andreas Borgeas, who decided to run for the Fresno County Board of Supervisors.
The five are business- owner Steve Brandau, food manufacturer Pat Di Cicco, businessowner Kelly Miller, communications professional Randy Reed and business manager Sue Saigal.
They want to represent the city's northwest corner. All seven council districts keep their representatives hopping, but District 2 seems to be especially dynamic.
The council in the past year or so has tackled District 2 issues as varied as potential business disruption by high-speed rail, infrastructure challenges in Herndon Town, access problems to the San Joaquin River and public reaction to the planned El Paseo shopping center.
Thick staff reports on these and other issues will be waiting when the new District 2 council member takes the oath in January. But with the June 5 primary less than three weeks away, the candidates are focusing on the big picture.
The city is well into the fourth year of a budget crisis and looking at a $15 million budget hole next year. That doesn't leave much room for candidates to separate themselves from their rivals.
Jobs and public safety are high on everyone's list of priorities. There also is an edge to their promises, a vow to shake things up at City Hall.
Brandau: "No more connecting the taxpayer to money pits. We're at the point where we can deal only with essential services."
Di Cicco: "Things have gone a little sideways lately. Voters are very disenchanted. I want to do something about it."
Miller: "We need to prioritize our problems and we need to get them solved. It's old-fashioned. It's what you do with your kids. It's what you do with your business."
Reed: "Unless we have experienced leadership sitting in the District 2 seat, addressing our problems, the city could go in a different direction than we need it to go."
Saigal: "I've run a successful business. I watch every dollar going in. I watch every dollar going out. This is how we need to run our city."
But there are sharp differences in style and background among the candidates.
Brandau, 48, has made a name for himself as a Tea Party activist. He owns a carpet-cleaning business and used to live in District 6.
Popular incumbent Lee Brand holds the District 6 seat. Brandau said he moved to District 2 to be closer to many of his customers.
Brandau said he is skeptical of high-speed rail. He doesn't think it will produce nearly as many jobs as its supporters claim. He also fears it will harm businesses located along the line of construction.
"We have a lot of great Fresno businesses," Brandau said. "I don't want to sacrifice those jobs for a potential fantasy."
Brandau said City Hall harms businesses with too much red tape.
Di Cicco, 52, is part of perhaps Fresno's most storied family of restaurateurs. He said it's gratifying to knock on a voter's door and be greeted by someone munching on a Di Cicco's pizza.
Di Cicco said he was living in a county island, but moved to a place in the district that he leases from a cousin. He said he has owned two homes in District 2.
Di Cicco promises to be a champion for the entrepreneur.
"We need to create jobs," Di Cicco said. "In order to create jobs, we need to make the city more user-friendly."
That means an emphasis on speed and efficiency when businessowners seek permits, Di Cicco said.
High-speed rail? "Too expensive," Di Cicco said.