|Downtown Fresno, before the removal of the Fulton Mall|
The candidates are Democrat Henry Perea and Republican Lee Brand. If you only follow national politics, the choice seems simple. For whatever reason, over the last decades, the Republican Party has taken stances against sustainable transportation, High Speed Rail, and investment in infill. But we're talking about Fresno, and it's not so clear cut.
For the past eight years, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin has shown a strong interest in everything I mentioned in the opening paragraph. Although she is a Republican - born in Texas and raised in Arkansas - Mayor Swearengin strayed from the typical Republican platform in her efforts to fix Fresno's core. She was one of the strongest supporters of High Speed Rail, she oversaw the first residential development in downtown Fresno in decades, brought in $40 million in federal funding for BRT, pushed a master plan that focused on infill, and even stood her ground against the first developer attempt to ignore the master plan in building a new suburban supermarket.
This of course, has been in strong contrast to California Republicans on the national stage, such as Nunes, Denham, Valadao, and Issa. Indeed, the prime reason Mayor Swearengin hasn't had a stronger list of successes has been to the right wing reps on the Fresno City Council. Those council members have shared the following gems:
"I always side with the free market. Who knows more about retail, Smart & Final or the city of Fresno?” says Council Member Clint Olivier, whose district includes the project site. “In a case like this, I always side with the business owner. I always side with the free market.”
Smart and Final
On Bicycle Lanes
Public support for the bike lanes on Fruit was overwhelming, but one voice prevailed. City Council Member Steve Brandau argued there was not enough bicycle traffic to justify a bike lane on Fruit Avenue between Shaw and Herndon. Brandau cited his own informal traffic study as evidence.On Public Transit
"I went out and parked under a shade tree, it was on a Saturday, a beautiful day and I counted in one hour 374 cars and zero bikes."
Council Kills Road Diet
The feds and the state will pay for this bus with your tax dollars, but is that a good use of your money if we don't need the bus?On Infill Development
Fresno Kills BRT
Our citizens have always preferred bigger homes on lots with a backyard for barbecuing. They like driving cars while listening to music.
This general plan would be more at home in Sacramento or San Francisco. It is now popular in California for public policy to be made on the whimsical notions of the “intellectual elite.” They live off high six-figure salaries and have less common sense than the average Walmart clerk.
That said, this general plan is still focused on high-density infill development that is diametrically opposed to the free market. Until that fact changes, I cannot support this 2035 General Plan Update.
These kinds of statements extend beyond Fresno's borders into Madera:
On a plan to provide public transit between Fresno and Yosemite:
“Busing will herd visitors between set locations like cattle, and will take away from leisurely travel time that helps the local economy, giving tourists more flexibility to shop and dine,” Bigelow said
|Fresno's "spine," Blackstone Avenue|
The point here, is that one can still be the Republican mayor of Fresno and not subscribe to the national party line.
Which brings us to the two candidates, and why strong consideration should be given to both.