This candidate says being an ‘extreme moderate’ will help him in Fresno’s mayor race

Fresno City Councilmember Luis Chavez said he’s known at City Hall for being an “extreme moderate.”

Chavez believes his ability to be a team player is what the city needs now in its next mayor.

“I‘ve been dubbed here that extreme moderate on the City Council, and I think it’s because I like to get things done,” he said in an interview with The Bee. “For me it doesn’t matter if you’re Democrat, Republican or Independent. I think my record speaks for itself in being able to push policy. … They say that politics is a team sport, and I understand that.”

Chavez officially filed his paperwork with the Fresno City Clerk’s Office on Thursday to run for mayor, but he announced his candidacy moments after Mayor Lee Brand said he would not seek re-election.

Chavez faces three challengers: Police Chief Jerry Dyer, Fresno County prosecutor Andrew Janz, and Elliott Balch, a nonprofit and Measure P leader.

Chavez, 40, touted his background representing southeast Fresno on the City Council and Fresno Unified school board as making him more qualified than his challengers. Chavez also worked for Sal Quintero when he was on the City Council.

The district he represents is similar to Fresno as a whole, in terms of considering how to serve both older and newer neighborhoods and unifying their needs, he said.

Chavez also hopes as mayor to bring thousands of jobs to the city through projects similar to the Amazon and Ulta warehouses. “I’m big on economic development and creating a pathway for folks to be self sustaining, and for me the jobs piece has to be there,” he said. “I really see Fresno being the distribution capitol of the Central Valley.”

Chavez has responded to people complaining that too many Democratic candidates for mayor will split the vote and ensure Dyer, a Republican, wins. “People who say that, what that tells me is that they don’t really understand the numbers of a primary,” he said.

“I think choice is good,” he said. “I think that forces candidates to take positions and tell people how you are going to conduct yourself as a mayor, and what are going to be your priorities, what are your strengths and weaknesses. I think primaries expose that in candidates, and I think you’re going to see that play out.”

The good thing about his run for mayor, Chavez said, is even if he doesn’t win, he’ll continue to serve the city as a councilmember.

“The main thing that I want to do is just leave my city a little better than when I started,” 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.