Seven people are competing in a crowded race to become the next Fresno City Council member to represent southwest Fresno's District 3.
Oliver Baines, who was elected in 2010, is termed out.
When people talk about Fresno and the "Tale of Two Cities," often District 3, which includes parts of southwest and west Fresno, is part of that— and not the nice part.
District 3 straddles Highway 99 from Central Avenue in the south to McKinley and Clinton avenues in the north. The furthest eastern border is at South First Street, and its western border primarily runs along Marks Avenue.
Neighborhoods in this area of the city are known for high crime and poverty. Neighborhoods lack parks and green space and face pollution. Residents in southwest Fresno for years fought for the relocation of the Darling meat-rendering plant that caused a stench in their neighborhood.
But in recent years, District 3 has seen many positives, such as downtown revitalization, the completion of Gaston Middle School and the reopening of Storyland, to name a few. Plus, State Center Community College is on deck to build a west Fresno campus, and investors have major development planned nearby.
District 3 has about 27,300 registered voters, according to Fresno County elections numbers in mid April. Nearly 15,000 are registered Democrat, compared to about 5,000 Republicans. More than 6,000 are registered as No Party Preference.
The primary election is June 5. To win, a candidate must receive at least 50 percent plus one votes. If no candidate receives more than half of the votes, the top two finishers will go to a run-off in November.
Arias, 40, works as Fresno Unified's chief information officer and currently serves as a trustee for State Center Community College. He previously served as the chief of staff for former Councilman Blong Xiong in District 1. Arias also previously served as a trustee for Mendota Unified.
He earned his bachelor's degree in criminology and Chicano Latino studies from Fresno State. He's earned additional certificates for governance and legislation work.
Arias believes the biggest challenge facing District 3 mirrors the main challenge throughout the city — public safety. However, he disagrees that adding more officers will solve the problem. He believes in a holistic approach that includes addressing mental health services, infrastructure, affordable housing and recreation programs.
Arias so far has received endorsements from Juan Arambula, the former assemblyman; District 1 Councilmember Esmeralda Soria; District 5 Councilman Luis Chavez; former Mayor Alan Autry and former District 1 Councilman Blong Xiong, among others.
He leads the crowded District 3 race in fundraising. He's received $26,381 and has $10,003 in cash on hand. He's spent $16,418 and has $10,000 in outstanding debt. Arias personally loaned his campaign $10,000.
Larry T. Burrus
Burrus, 66, is a real estate broker and contractor who has worked on many projects in southwest Fresno, including apartment complexes, churches and shopping centers.
Although Burrus did not respond to The Bee's questions on election matters, his campaign materials andresponses
in interviews indicate he hopes to bring jobs to District 3. He hopes to spur economic development in southwest Fresno, which he says will help circumvent crime.
Burrus did not file campaign fundraising information by the first quarter deadline.
Hill, 39, works for Fresno Community Development Financial Institution securing grants and funding for small businesses. He's been the president of the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce for seven years. He also owns and operates a regional public relations and project management firm that specializes in ethnic and urban communities.
He earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from Fresno State with a minor in economics. He earned a master's degree in community economic development from Southern New Hampshire University.
Hill believes economic development is the biggest hurdle in District 3. He hopes building relationships with the current council and mayor will help attract business to the district. He has a $1 billion investment goal, through public-private partnerships, to turn District 3 into a vibrant urban economy.
Sitting Councilman Oliver Baines endorsed Hill for his seat.
Hill received $15,875 in campaign contributions and has nearly $10,000 in cash. He has spent $5,893 and owes about $10,000.
Miller, 52, currently works as a middle school counselor in Madera. His education career includes experience working as a teacher, coach and principal. He also previously served as a commissioner for the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission.
He's currently in progress to earn a doctoral degree in education at Fresno State. He earned a master's degree in education administration from Fresno Pacific and in counseling from National University. He also earned a bachelor's degree in liberal studies from Fresno State.
He previously ran for Fresno City Council in 2010 and a for Fresno Unified's governing board in 2012.
Miller believes District 3 must overcome years of neglect that has led to crime, low access to goods and services, high concentrations of poverty, low education rates and disengaged neighborhoods. He hopes to re-engage community members so they can fight off gentrification and displacement as new investments from public and private entities look toward District 3.
He's endorsed by the Fresno County Progressive PAC, Downtown Fresno Coalition, and the Fresno County Democratic Women's Club, among others.
Miller has received $15,985 in campaign contributions and has has $1,351 in cash. He's spent $14,502 and owes $8,900.
Sanchez, 48, works in real estate and property management for Alliance Realty & Mortgage. He also serves on the board of Ranchwood Homeowners Association, a large condominium association.
Sanchez holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Fresno State.
The city of Fresno has issued thousands of violations on Sanchez's properties through their anti-slum enforcement team, which was noted in a presentation at an April Fresno City Council meeting. But Sanchez said city inspectors overloaded him with any small code violation and inflated the situation. He believes the city's methods may end up eliminating affordable housing for residents.
Sanchez believes crime and housing are the primary challenges in District 3. He proposes integrating live video feeds with Shot Spotter to help police solve crimes. He also wants to roll back the city's anti-slum efforts.
Sean Sanchez received $1,281 in campaign contributions and has $1,000 in cash, but he owes more than $2,000.
Scharton, 56, most recently served as the interim CEO for the Downtown Fresno Partnership. He served as the Fulton District Manager, leading the project to pave a street down the Fulton Mall. For about three years he ran Peeve's Public House on Fulton Mall. He previously worked for the city as the Downtown and Community Revitalization Department director. He previously served as the councilman for District 1 from 1987 to 1991.
Scharton has a master's degree in community economic development from Southern New Hampshire University.
Decades of neglect and numerous social, physical, health and economic problems plague District 3 and have led to disinvestment and disillusionment, according to Scharton. Scharton plans to hold meetings in each District 3 neighborhood so residents can set their own priorities and set a course of action to make improvements.
He's received a handful of small donations from downtown businesses and venders. He's received $11,620 and has $5,295 in cash. He's spent $6,325 and owes $300.
Tapscott-Munson, 54, is a retired librarian who worked at Fresno Unified. She was the lead petitioner on the class action lawsuit against Darling Ingredients. She also helped in the effort to capture Transformative Climate Communities funding for southwest Fresno, Chinatown and downtown.
She earned a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from Fresno Pacific University.
Topscott-Munson sees the lack of jobs and job training as the biggest obstacle for District 3. She would like to see mentoring and career technical training for young people.
She is endorsed by the Fresno Stonewall Democrats and the National Women's Political Caucus.
She's raised about $6,300 and has spent about that amount. She owes $5,540. Most of the money her campaign raised came from small contributions.