Two city council members are heading to seats on the Fresno County Board of Supervisors after notching decisive wins in the June 7 election in unofficial results.
Clovis City Councilman Nathan Magsig will replace retiring Supervisor Debbie Poochigian, and Fresno City Councilman Sal Quintero will fill the seat being vacated by Supervisor Henry R. Perea, who is running for Fresno mayor.
With all precincts reporting and early absentee results in District 5, Magsig had 63 percent of the votes. Clovis businessman and agriculture executive Alex Ott, who called Magsig at 10:30 p.m. to concede, had 27 percent, and Lauren Stephens, a web developer and political consultant, had 9 percent.
“We ran the best campaign that we could in the time frame that we had. We came up short,” Ott said. “I wish the best of luck to Nathan and hope he serves us well.”
In District 3, Quintero, a longtime politician, had 56 percent of the votes. Former Fresno City Councilman Dan Ronquillo had 28 percent, and Fresno businessman Antonio “Tony” Gastelum had 15 percent.
Ronquillo had the endorsement of Perea, Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria and former Fresno County Supervisor Susan Anderson. Quintero was supported by Sheriff Margaret Mims, Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer and Fresno Councilmen Paul Caprioglio and Oliver Baines.
Ronquillo raised about $160,000, including about $50,000 in loans to himself. Quintero raised about $115,000. Gastelum loaned himself $87,000 and reported no other contributions.
Magsig promises to keep focus on ag
Magsig, who gathered with supporters at the Fresno Deputy Sheriff’s Association Hall in downtown Fresno, said late in the evening that he was celebrating. “I’m excited.”
Magsig’s endorsements included fellow Clovis City Councilmen Bob Whalen and Jose Flores as well as Fresno County Supervisors Andreas Borgeas and Buddy Mendes and former supervisors Anderson, Judy Case McNairy and Bob Waterston. He also had the backing of Mims, Dyer and the Fresno Deputy Sheriff’s Association.
Magsig raised more than $330,000, including $130,000 from his Clovis City Council campaign. Ott raised about $135,000, with about $50,000 coming from Poochigian and about $15,000 in loans to himself. Stephens reported no donations.
Ott expressed disappointment. “I was expecting this to be closer,” he said.
Ott touted his agriculture experience and lamented that there won’t be an agriculture-business majority on the board. Ott’s endorsements included Poochigian, former Fresno County Supervisor Phil Larson, Assemblyman Jim Patterson, former Rep. George Radanovich and former Assemblyman Bill Maze. He also had support from Manuel Cunha of the Nisei Farmers League.
Ott said Tuesday evening that he had 12 weeks to stage and finance a campaign against Magsig. “Without a doubt, it’s been very challenging,” he said.
Magsig said he will not ignore agriculture. “It’s the No. 1 economic engine in Fresno County, and that’s something I want to perpetuate going forward.” But farmers need water to grow crops, he said. “Water is the biggest issue that Fresno County is facing.”
He said he wants to look at opportunities for groundwater storage and some aboveground storage.
Complete turnover in four-year span
When two new Fresno County supervisors take their seats in January, it will mean a complete turnover of members in a four-year span. Perea has been the senior board member with 12 years as a supervisor. The senior board member will be Borgeas, who was elected in 2012 and who ran unopposed in Tuesday’s election.
A new board will continue a transition that has been ongoing for much of the past year after John Navarrette, the county administrative officer, announced his retirement. Other key management staff also retired before staunch conservative Poochigian and lone liberal Perea announced they wouldn’t continue as county supervisors.
Supervisors will consider ways to fund new technology and buildings that county staff says are woefully antiquated. Supervisors must secure funding for a new sheriff’s substation in southeast Fresno, a new district attorney’s office and a new animal shelter. County staff is trying to sell surplus land to fund the projects, but so far, there have been no takers.
Staff writer JoAnna Kroeker contributed to this story.