This candidate was behind the scenes. Now he’s stepping out and running for Fresno mayor

Elliott Balch, a leader in the Measure P effort and the chief operations officer of the Central Valley Community Foundation, is jumping into the Fresno mayor’s race.

Balch, 38, filed his paperwork with the Fresno City Clerk Wednesday afternoon.

In an interview with The Bee Thursday morning, Balch said he’s running to help Fresno realize its untapped potential and define the new emerging California. He’s focused on smart growth in a way that uplifts people from poverty to the middle class.

“I think there are too many of our neighbors in Fresno who deserve and need an opportunity to participate in becoming a prosperous, safe and healthy community,” he said.

Balch joins three other mayoral hopefuls: Police Chief Jerry Dyer, Fresno County prosecutor Andrew Janz and Fresno City Councilmember Luis Chavez, who has yet to file his candidacy paperwork with the city clerk.

Balch was born and raised in Fresno, graduating from Edison High School and completing a bachelor’s degree at Harvard. He later earned a master’s degree from the University of Chicago.

He’s been active in Fresno’s political world behind the scenes and leading movements, working for the city’s redevelopment agency and former Assemblymember Juan Arambula in the early 2000s.

Balch also worked under former Mayor Ashley Swearengin managing downtown Fresno’s revitalization. Last year, he was a leader in the Measure P campaign to pass a parks sales tax.

If elected, Balch hopes to lead efforts to increase Fresno’s housing stock near transportation hubs in a way that reduces air pollution. He also believes Fresno is a good place for small businesses to get their start, especially for people from disadvantaged communities who may face barriers or be locked out of industries in other places, such as the Bay Area.

“I’ve not only had experience working at City Hall directly, but really have experienced getting up every day for 15 years and in some way or another have thought about how to make our community a prosperous, safe and healthy place for all of us,” he said.

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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.