Political Notebook

Yee campaigns on Swearengin's turf, but has no plans to stop at City Hall

The day after a new Field Poll showed Betty Yee with a double-digit lead over Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin in the state controller race, the Bay Area Democrat showed no sign of relaxing.

In fact, the current state Board of Equalization member was on a two-day campaign swing this week in the very heart of Swearengin country -- the city of Fresno itself. With her was former Fresno Mayor Karen Humphrey.

And as if that's not enough, on Thursday Yee had endorsement interviews with two of the city's most powerful unions -- the Fresno Police Officer's Association and the Fresno City Firefighters. They requested the meetings, Yee said.

She also had a meeting with the Nisei Farmers League and a Thursday evening fundraiser in the city. Her time in the city started Wednesday afternoon with a speech to Fresno State students on the role of women in politics.

One stop Yee won't be making, she said, is Fresno City Hall, even after Swearengin -- defending her job as the leader of the state's fifth-largest city -- challenged her to stop by and take a look at the city's books.

The dustup in what is quickly becoming a heated campaign came after Yee put out a news release on Swearengin's decision to change her ballot designation from "Mayor, City of Fresno," which it was in the primary election, to "Mayor/CEO" for the general election.

"Since elected to office, Mayor Swearengin has failed to deliver on her promises to make Fresno a better place to live: Soaring deficits, unbalanced budgets, record unemployment, three credit downgrades to junk status, and festering poverty and homelessness are Swearingen's (sic) enduring legacy," the statement in the release said.

Swearengin fired back on Monday in a speech before the Downtown Fresno Rotary.

"I am issuing an invitation to my opponent, Betty Yee," Swearengin said. "A challenge, if you will, to come to Fresno, meet with my team, meet with my budget office and my economic development team. I will make any information available to her that she may require, and allow her as much time as she may need to evaluate what we've done in Fresno. At the end of her evaluation, I would like to know from her what she would have done differently."

Yee's reply? "It's not my job."