Fresno City Council Member Clint Olivier on Monday became the second candidate to officially enter the 31st Assembly District race.
Olivier, a Republican, joins Kingsburg Democrat Joaquin Arambula in the battle to replace Fresno Democrat Henry T. Perea, who reaches his term limit next year. More hopefuls are expected to enter the fray in an election that is still a year away. Fresno Unified Trustee Luis Chavez said he’ll officially announce a decision on a run after the July 4 holiday, and Kingsburg resident Michael Eggman has filed a candidate statement.
But Olivier may be the only Republican, because the district is made for a Democrat to win. Since the mid-1970s, a Democrat has held the seat. Arambula, Chavez and Eggman are all Democrats. The district is 48.25% Democrat, 28.7% Republican and 18.69% with no party preference.
It was a challenge Olivier acknowledged in remarks announcing his candidacy.
“I want to be the voice of everyone in the Central Valley who thinks the state of California has left us behind, and those people are everywhere,” Olivier said in his remarks outside Sam’s Italian Deli and Market in central Fresno. “They’re Democrats. They’re Republicans and independents.”
He echoed those remarks in an interview: “The fact is I’m not a traditional Republican. Absolutely I’m fiscally conservative, but I’m very in tune to the needs, to the very special needs, of south Fresno and the communities in this Assembly district. I’ve been elected in this district twice by folks who are, let’s face it, majority Democrats.”
Still, he also touched on traditional Republican themes such as building new dams and cutting government regulation and red tape.
Olivier also gave a glimpse of his campaign strategy that mixes Republican themes with a populist message: seeking more water storage and highlighting his work to improve inner city Fresno.
He said the 31st District, which covers huge parts of west and south Fresno County, is the second poorest district in the state, with 35% of resident living on $23,000 a year or less and almost half the children living below the poverty line. Both stats, he said, were “unacceptable.”
Olivier was joined by fellow Fresno City Council Members Lee Brand and Steve Brandau, as well as Chet Reilly, Kerman Mayor Pro Tem Gary Yep and Fresno County Supervisors Buddy Mendes and Andreas Borgeas in making his announcement. He was introduced by Sam Marziliano, the co-owner of Sam’s, who praised Olivier as someone “very sensitive to the challenges we’ve had in our neighborhood.”
Sam’s is located at the corner of First Street and Clinton Avenue.
Said Olivier: “I’ve fought against laws that stifle small businesses like Sam’s. I’ve worked to clean up inner city neighborhoods like this one, and I’ve fought to make sure kids in southeast Fresno have a safe and clean place to play. Now it’s time to take that fight to Sacramento.”