On Monday, Fresno County Supervisor Judy Case said she wouldn't seek re-election next year. By Wednesday, the rumor mill had churned out close to a dozen names of potential successors. By Friday, however, only two people had taken steps toward a run — Riverdale farmer Ernest "Buddy" Mendes and Fowler Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Parra.
Mendes, 57, has filed the paperwork for an exploratory committee. Parra, 48, hasn't, but said in a Friday news release that he's running.
Mendes said he's thinking about running because he feels he can give the county effective representation.
He farms cotton, wheat, alfalfa, corn and pistachios and has land on both the Valley's east and west sides. He also has a long history of public service, including the Riverdale Unified School Board (since 1993), the Southwest Transportation Agency Board (since 1996) and the Riverdale Public Utility District (since 1994). In 2011, he served on the county's Redistricting Task Force.
Mendes said running for county supervisor is a big step up from those posts, one that would include significant campaigning and fundraising.
Parra's announcement came with nearly 30 endorsements, most from inside the district.
Among them were five mayors: Mendota's Robert Silva, Parlier's Armando Lopez, Huron's Silva Chavez, Orange Cove's Gabriel Jimenez and Fowler's Dave Cardenas.
Parra also got backing from Clovis Council Member Harry Armstrong, Assembly Member Henry T. Perea and Fresno County Supervisor Henry R. Perea.
In a statement, Parra said, "I recognize that others will step forward and hope to have an honest discussion and a lively debate on the direction of our county."
Case represents District 4, which covers the southern part of Fresno County, including the towns of Sanger, Coalinga, Selma, Kingsburg, Huron, Orange Cove and Reedley, among others.
— John Ellis
Patterson, Bigelow shot down on audit request
The Joint Legislative Audit Committee declined a request by two Valley Republican lawmakers Wednesday to audit how the state is acquiring private land for the high-speed rail project.
Assembly Members Jim Patterson of Fresno and Frank Bigelow of O'Neals said they feared Central Valley landowners were being treated unfairly as the California High-Speed Rail Authority moves forward.
Their request failed on a party-line vote. Democratic lawmakers said an audit is unnecessary because information about land acquisition can be obtained directly from the rail authority.
State Auditor Elaine Howle said an audit would have taken about six months.
The state auditor has examined elements of the high-speed rail project twice before, first in 2010 and again in 2012.
Rail officials plan to begin construction of the $68 billion system this year with the first section from Fresno to Madera.
— David Siders, The Sacramento Bee
Costa, Denham, Doyle talk immigration
This week's Maddy Report radio talk show features Reps. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, and Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, plus Bee Washington Bureau writer Michael Doyle talking on the topic: "Immigration Reform: What it Could Mean for California and the San Joaquin Valley."
Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler moderates. The show airs Sundays from 9-10 a.m. on KMJ (AM 580) and often features guests from The Bee including Opinion Page Editor Bill McEwen and political beat writer John Ellis.