Of three Fresno City Council seats up for election this year, two incumbents are running unopposed: Steve Brandau in District 2 and Paul Caprioglio in District 4. That means they will each coast to a second four-year term on the council without having to raise funds or run campaigns.
Brandau, who owns a carpet cleaning business, said he hopes the lack of a challenger suggests that residents of his northwest Fresno district believe he’s done a good job. “Knock on wood, I think I’ve been carrying the flag for northwest Fresno,” he said. “I’ve been keeping everybody informed, holding district meetings pretty regularly, sending out mailers, putting notices in The Bee so people can connect with me.”
Brandau, 52, was first elected to the City Council in 2012.
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“We’ve brought a lot of road and sidewalk infrastructure money into northwest Fresno, so between that and getting up in the boom truck and fixing streetlights, I think people are happy with what we’re doing,” Brandau said. “We’re meeting the physical needs of the district, and a lot of people think I’m representing their best interest on the Fresno City Council.”
Brandau said he learned of one potential challenger several weeks before the filing deadline. “But we connected and talked at a Starbucks for a couple of hours, and we realized that we were both pretty much on the same page,” and he decided not to continue the challenge, Brandau said. “So when the filing deadline came, it was not a big, huge stressed-out day for me.”
“Northwest Fresno is not going to attract a candidate who’s (politically) too far away from me,” he said. “Maybe someone who’s not as far right as me. Whoever that is will have met me, and we may disagree on a few things, but not enough to run against me.
“You’re never going to get universal agreement,” he added, “but we try to do a job and answer when the phone rings.”
Caprioglio, 70, is an attorney in Fresno who represents the east-central part of the city. He was appointed on a 5-2 vote of the City Council in May 2008 to fill the unexpired term of District 4 Councilman Larry Westerlund while Westerlund served a one-year military deployment as a lieutenant commander with the U.S. Naval Reserve. Westerlund was in the midst of a re-election campaign when he deployed, and won the election. The council extended Caprioglio’s appointment until May 2009, when Westerlund returned to City Hall.
In 2012, when Westerlund was term-limited, Caprioglio ran for and won a full four-year term in the District 4 seat.
“It was actually a deep feeling of gratitude for the faith and trust that people in District 4 put in me,” Caprioglio said of running unopposed. “I’m just doing what I would want a representative to do. … I don’t take it lightly. I feel like I need to be even more responsive because I don’t have an opponent. It just adds more responsibility to constituents and friends in District 4.” Caprioglio had actually started campaigning last fall, walking some precincts in October, November and December before taking time off for an illness.
Particularly after a bout of pneumonia put him in a hospital for a few days last month, “there’s a feeling of, ‘Wow, I’m very blessed to not have to run” a strenuous re-election campaign.
In the coming four years, Caprioglio said, he wants to continue working toward reinvesting city dollars in much-needed infrastructure improvements in the district and citywide. “I think the council now, more than ever, understands the importance of investing in local neighborhoods and addressing the needs of taxpayers with the dollars they’ve invested for sidewalks, streets and tree trimming,” he said. “We’ve gotten away from that.”