The Fresno City Council will lose a combined 22 years of leadership and service when District 5 representative Sal Quintero and District 6 representative Lee Brand exit after the Nov. 8 election.
The two will take with them much knowledge about the city and its government, and the pride of having made Fresno a better place because of their civic contributions.
Fortunately for voters – those in the southeast and northeast neighborhoods, in particular – there are outstanding candidates to succeed them. They are Luis Chavez in District 5 and Garry Bredefeld in District 6.
It’s no secret that southeast Fresno faces greater challenges than the northern parts of our city. Southeast needs more business investment. Its infrastructure must be shored up. There is scant green space for families to picnic and kids to play.
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Some apartment complexes, as well as rental houses, are shoddy and unsafe. These units are operated by slumlords who have little fear of being forced to toe the line by a City Hall that is failing its promise and obligation to renters.
The city is building a $159 million surface water treatment plant in its southeast. That plant is expected to open in late 2018, providing water to a broader area of the city where there is old galvanized plumbing. These pipes could be subject to the water discoloration and lead contamination problems found in northeast Fresno.
District 5 needs a council member who can successfully lobby for neighborhoods and businesses, finally force City Hall to do right by renters and provide oversight before and after the treatment plant starts pumping.
Chavez’s experience – both as Quintero’s assistant and as a Fresno Unified School District trustee – positions him to deliver the leadership southeast deserves.
Chavez is intelligent, hardworking and knows how to navigate tough issues. He has done an excellent job as as president of the Fresno Unified board this year, exhibiting calm and confident leadership on a sometimes combative board. Chavez’s sharp command of policy, his ability to chart short- and long-term goals, and his alliances with leaders in the state Legislature will benefit the district and the city.
Chavez is one of three challengers to serve the final two years of Quintero’s term; the others are business development counselor Jose Barraza, and businessman/business executive Antonio “Tony” Gastelum.
Barraza, who like Chavez has run for the seat previously, worked 34 years for Fresno County as an administrative analyst, and was the county’s director of economic development. He has great passion for southeast Fresno and its residents, and would be a capable council member. We believe, however, that Chavez has the greater upside.
Bredefeld, who represented District 6 from 1997 through 2000, nearly won the seat outright in the primary, when we first recommended him to voters.
With Brand terming out and running for mayor, northeast residents require a representative fully capable of meeting the high standard that Brand set. Bredefeld is that match – and a clear-cut choice over political novice Jeremy Pearce, a business owner and entertainer.
We believe that Bredefeld, a psychologist and former Navy lieutenant, will both attend to the needs of northeast residents and serve a leadership role in helping raise the quality of life throughout the city.
In his earlier term on the council, he stood firmly and rightly against unbridled northern growth, championed downtown revitalization and was one of the few voices pointing out that the Fresno economy was overly dependent on subdivision sprawl.
One of his Bredefeld’s greatest assets is that he listens to all sides and seeks to find compromise. He has a long history of volunteerism, exudes great energy and focuses on making things better – not relitigating the past.
We recommend Luis Chavez and Garry Bredefeld to voters as City Council candidates who will continue our city’s upward trajectory. They are great fits for what has become a productive and largely collaborative council.