Fresno City Council candidate Garry Bredefeld earned some key support for his campaign Thursday morning, receiving endorsements from a string of current and former law enforcement leaders and other community leaders.
In a news conference at the Fresno Police Officers Association office in central Fresno, Bredefeld said he was “humbled and honored” to win the backing of Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims, former sheriff Steve Magarian, former Fresno mayor Alan Autry, community advocate and former mayoral candidate H. Spees and Fresno Unified School District trustee Brooke Ashjian.
Bredefeld, a clinical psychologist who represented the northeast Fresno district from 1997 through 2000, was the leading vote-getter in a field of four candidates in the June 7 primary election, but fell short of the 50-percent-plus-one margin to win the seat outright. He’s facing entertainer Jeremy Pearce, the runnerup in the primary, in a November runoff.
In a written statement, Dyer – who was unable to attend the news conference – said he’s never endorsed a Fresno City Council candidate before, “but with Garry Bredefeld I am pleased to make this exception.” Dyer and Mims both cited Bredefeld’s commitment to public safety during his first City Council term and in this campaign among reasons for their support. “He was a leader on the council and helped make our city safer by increasing our police department by 170 officers and supporting effective policing programs,” Dyer said.
Mims added: “I am convinced that (Bredefeld) is committed to providing public safety with the resources they need to get the job done … and I am convinced that he is committed to working with the county in making what we all want, and that’s all of our communities safe.”
Magarian, who served three terms as sheriff from 1986 to 1998, said he’s known Bredefeld for more than 20 years “and I’ve seen him in the trenches.” The former sheriff touted Bredefeld’s integrity and experience in his remarks.
Autry, Fresno mayor from 2001 through 2008, decried deterioration of public safety, education and morality at the city, state and national level. “In many cases, it was bad, self-serving politics that got us to where we are today,” Autry said. “It’s going to take some of the most ethical, courageous leadership … to get us out.” He added that he believes Bredefeld can stand his ground “when the political pressure is really hot.”
Ashjian characterized Bredefeld as “a guy who gets on the field and plays ball, and he plays hard.” He added that Bredefeld “isn’t afraid to stand up to people.”
Bredefeld reiterated his prior council experience as a plus in dealing with crime, panhandling and vagrancy in northeast Fresno and across the city. “We’re a big city with big-city problems,” he said. “You need people who have experience. You need people who are innovative, who can bring people together, listen to people and come up with solutions. My background and experience demonstrate that I’m able to do that.”
Pearce has his own cadre of endorsements, including current District 6 Councilman Lee Brand who is running for mayor; Councilmen Paul Caprioglio, Steve Brandau and Clint Olivier; and another former Fresno mayor, Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno.
Changes of heart
For Autry, backing Bredefeld appears to represent a change of heart after originally endorsing Pearce. In fact, Pearce’s campaign website still listed Autry among his endorsements as of Thursday afternoon.
Pearce said he had campaigned for Autry years ago and performed his Elvis Presley tribute act at Autry fundraisers, and was pleased when he sought and received Autry’s support early in the campaign.
“I told Alan that I needed to be fully honest with him and that we didn’t agree on the baseball stadium deal,” Pearce said of Chukchansi Park in downtown Fresno. “He told me that was OK, that we didn’t need to agree on everything.”
“It was a big surprise to me” when Autry asked to meet with him recently to retract his support, Pearce said Thursday. “He said he wasn’t happy about my tone of my remarks (criticizing) the stadium deal, and then he asked me about high-speed rail and I told him I opposed it. That’s when he said he was sorry but had to withdraw his endorsement.” Pearce said he has since asked the webmaster of the campaign website to remove Autry’s name from the endorsements.
Autry could not be reached Thursday afternoon to comment on his endorsement.
Ashjian, the school trustee, is also new to the Bredefeld camp after originally supporting a different candidate. Ashjian endorsed candidate Holly Carter early in the District 6 primary campaign, but abruptly withdrew his support in May after Carter erroneously accused Bredefeld – who was raised Jewish in New York – of waving “a Nazi sign” during a protest of a real estate development during his first term.