Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and City Council Member Blong Xiong traded endorsements on Friday — she backing his bid for the District 1 Fresno County supervisor seat, and he supporting her state controller run.
As Swearengin and Xiong endorsed each other, state Board of Equalization Member Betty Yee — the Democratic Party’s state controller candidate — said she’d earned two key endorsements from right in Swearengin’s backyard.
Both the Fresno Police Officers Association and the Nisei Farmers League endorsed Yee, her campaign said.
The Swearengin-Xiong mutual endorsements, which had been rumored for a few weeks, came as somewhat of a surprise because the two had often clashed on city issues, and also because she is a Republican and he is a Democrat.
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“I support Blong because he is the right person for the job,” Swearengin said at a news conference in front of City Hall. “I have no problem standing up and letter other people know that, and whatever political consequences there may be it’s certainly OK with me.”
Xiong said the two have “been on opposite sides of some of the big issues,” but there is a mutual respect between the two and they have both been city leaders during the difficult years of the Great Recession.
The two had had some major policy disagreements.
For instance, Xiong opposed Swearengin’s proposal to privatize residential trash pickup in the city, a dispute that ended up going before voters, who nixed the idea. He also opposed her successful push to privatize commercial trash pickup, as well as her Fiscal Sustainability Policy and even the 2010-11 budget.
It’s unclear how the endorsement will play for either candidate.
Swearengin, a moderate Republican running a very non-partisan controller campaign, can claim another Democrat supporter. Xiong, running for a supervisor seat that is officially non-partisan but who is strongly backed by labor unions, can point to a Republican endorsement.
Xiong’s opponent, Kerman dairy farmer Brian Pacheco, is also a Democrat, but has high profile Republican supporters such as Assembly Member Jim Patterson, Supervisors Debbie Poochigian and Judy Case McNairy — and the person who is retiring from the job, Supervisor Phil Larson.
As for Yee’s successful Fresno forays, Fresno Police Officer’s Association President Jacky Parks said the FPOA interviewed both Yee and Swearengin, and were drawn to Yee because she put a human face on the numbers that are central to the controller’s job.
“With Betty, a human factor played a role in it, and that was very important,” Parks said.
Nisei Farmer’s League President Manual Cunha Jr. said his organization liked the work Yee did for agriculture.
“We’re supporting her because of the hard work she’s done over the years for agriculture as a board of equalization member,” he said.