Fresno Mayor Lee Brand won’t seek re-election, but field of candidates keeps growing

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand will not seek re-election in 2020.

Brand, elected in 2016, made the announcement on Monday. Brand said making the announcement lifted a “two-ton weight” off his back and energized him.

Andrew Janz, a Fresno County prosecutor who challenged Congressman Devin Nunes in 2018, announced last month his plans to run for the office.

City Councilmember Luis Chavez told The Bee he’s running, making his announcement moments after Brand announced his news.

And Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, who’s retiring in October, put his Fresno County home on the market this month amid rumors he may run for mayor in 2020.

Dyer statement

In a statement released minutes after Brand’s announcement, Dyer said:

“I am appreciative of Lee’s ongoing service as the Mayor of our city and respect his decision not to seek re-election. During my remaining time as the Police Chief I will do all I can to allow his Administration to be successful.

“I have been asked many times over the past few weeks if I would be running for Mayor. With the Mayor’s announcement today that he will not be seeking re-election, I am anticipating that question being asked more frequently.

“I am honored to have received such an outpouring of support from members of our community who have encouraged me to run for Mayor. I am deeply humbled.

“I am strongly considering running for the Office of Mayor. However, prior to making a final decision, I will be consulting with those closest to me and seeking God’s affirmation.

“I recognize the importance of this decision to my family and to our community and the need to make that decision as soon as possible. As such, it is my intent to make a public announcement within the next few weeks. “

Mayor’s statement

Brand first shared his news in an appearance on the Ray Appleton Show on KMJ. As he spoke, the mayor’s office released a statement:

“Last month, I turned 70 years old and the occasion caused me to reflect on my life, my career and my time as your Mayor. As a result of this self-reflection, I had an open and honest discussion with my family about seeking a second term. The overwhelming consensus was that it was time I move on. My wife wants to travel and I want to spend more time with my grandchildren.

“Therefore, I have decided to announce that I will not run for a second term as Mayor of Fresno.

“I have a little over 19 months left to complete my term and my vision remains constant: create economic prosperity for our City, improve public safety, improve the quality of life for all and unify Fresno. For my remaining time in office, I will stay focused on moving that vision forward.

“The people of Fresno and their needs are more important than my political plans. Not running for a second term will allow me to devote my full attention to moving this City forward. Running for a second term as Mayor would consume time and energy that is better used to achieve my vision.

“Not having the burden of re-election gives me the freedom to devote all of my energy to improving our community. I will keep the ‘pedal to the metal’ until my last day in office.

“For the past 18 years, I have served this City, as a planning commissioner, City Councilmember and Mayor and I have no regrets. I love Fresno and its people and I’m forever grateful to have the opportunity to serve as Mayor of this great City.

“I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to my family, the incredible employees of the City of Fresno and all those who have supported my vision and stood beside me as we worked toward a better Fresno. I ask you to join my quest to finish strong over the next 19 months. Thank you!”

Brand spoke to the media in the KMJ parking lot after the radio appearance, saying he began considering the decision with his family six months ago. He said he’s staying neutral on the District 2 city council race and on who will replace him in 2020.

He chuckled when asked if he’d like to be city manager, and he commended City Manager Wilma Quan and the rest of his staff. “My goal is to get outside of City Hall,” he said.

Brand also didn’t difinitively say what he will do with the nearly $500,000 he raised for his re-election campaign.

Janz statement

Janz released a statement reacting to Brand’s announcement:

“I want to thank Lee Brand for his long-standing service and commitment to our great city. It’s time that we come together as a community. I look forward to sharing my vision for the City of Fresno in the coming months.”

Chavez statement

Chavez took his seat on the City Council in 2016 during a special election after serving on the Fresno Unified governing board. He won reelection in 2018.

In a statement, he said: “The city is at a crossroads, and we need leadership that can bring all parts of our city together. My almost 10 years serving residents across the city make me the most qualified candidate for mayor. Serving residents across Fresno (south and north) as a school board member and city councilman give me the skills, abilities and relationships to outline a vision for Fresno for the next 10 years. I have a track record of bringing folks from both sides of the aisle together and getting results for the residents of our city. The election of a mayor from south Fresno would be historic and a turning page in our city’s history that we will no longer be a ‘Tale of Two Cities!’”

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Brianna Calix covers politics and investigations for The Bee, where she works to hold public officials accountable and shine a light on issues that deeply affect residents’ lives. She previously worked for The Bee’s sister paper, the Merced Sun-Star, and earned her bachelor’s degree from Fresno State.