The fate of Fresno County Supervisorial District 2 is shaping up as a political donnybrook – even if the opening bell under the best of circumstances is 17 months away.
The speculative scenario is this:
Fresno City Council Members Steve Brandau and Garry Bredefeld in late 2018/early 2019 run in a special election to replace District 2 incumbent Andreas Borgeas.
Borgeas, a Republican, is no longer a supervisor, having resigned after winning the State Senate District 8 seat in the November 2018 general election (incumbent Tom Berryhill having been termed out at the end of 2018).
Brooke Ashjian (president of the Fresno Unified School District board of trustees as I write this) decides he is satisfied with the direction of FUSD reforms and throws his hat into the supervisorial ring against Brandau and Bredefeld.
Richard Caglia (Area 7 trustee on the State Center Community College District board as I write this) decides he is satisfied with SCCCD’s spending plan for that high profile half-billion-dollar bond and throws his hat into the supervisorial ring against Brandau, Bredefeld and Ashjian.
Debbie Poochigian, the former Fresno County supervisor who retains control of a substantial campaign war chest and a sentimental interest in the Senate District 8 post once held by husband Chuck Poochigian, keeps a sharp eye on everything with the hope of decisively influencing events through the shrewd application of her financial assets and considerable influence.
Let me emphasize, especially to my friends at Fresno City Hall such as Mayoral Chief of Staff Tim Orman, that I’m saying this could happen, as in the possibility can be said to legitimately exist.
We can safely assume that key parts of this scenario are true.
For starters, we know that Berryhill, the Republican lawmaker from Twain Harte, is termed out about 18 months from now. Senate District 8 is a huge area, stretching from suburban Sacramento to Tulare County. But much of the district is rural. Fresno and Clovis voters usually are the deciding factor in District 8 elections.
We know that Borgeas is a successful public servant with no shortage of political ambition. He represented Fresno City Council District 2 for four years. Last year, he won his second four-year term on the Board of Supervisors. (On a note with less official confirmation, at least so far, there’s talk in local political circles that a recent Borgeas fundraiser generated a haul in the six-figure range.)
We know that Brandau (Borgeas’ successor in Council District 2, which covers Northwest Fresno) isn’t one to beat around the bush.
I asked Brandau on Tuesday if he would run for an open District 2 Supervisorial seat. “Yes, I would,” he answered without hesitation.
Brandau at one time thought he might like to succeed Berryhill. He changed his mind after discussing things with supporters and political experts.
“At this juncture, I think I would rather stay local and work on issues,” Brandau said.
We know that Bredefeld (representing Council District 6 in Northeast Fresno) comes close to being as frank as Brandau.
“I love what I doing now representing the people of District 6,” Bredefeld told me on Tuesday. “But if the opportunity presented itself to represent them as well as other residents in the county, I would certainly consider that.”
We know that Ashjian isn’t slamming the door on a run for supervisor. “It’s awfully early in the game,” Ashjian told me on Tuesday. He said he’s currently concentrating his energies on transforming Fresno Unified. At the same time, Ashjian told me that supporters have approached him about running for the Supervisor. If he did run, Ashjian said, he would probably finance his campaign on his own.
We know that Caglia in our chat on Tuesday declined to comment publicly on a possible run. In the next 18 to 20 months, Caglia said, “a lot could happen.”
By that, I took Caglia to mean that other folks with strong Fresno-Clovis ties, good name-recognition and red-hot ambition are also thinking the opportunities should Borgeas earn himself a new job in Sacramento.
And I’ve known Caglia for a long time. If he had absolutely no interest in the Board of Supervisors, he’d say so and nip any speculation in the bud.
Let’s say Borgeas wins the Senate District 8 seat in November 2018. His successor as supervisor would be determined in a special election in early 2019.
That District 2 supervisorial race would have at least one public debate, of course. Perhaps the League of Women Voters would host it. Or maybe the Fresno Chamber of Commerce would foot the bill. Heck, my old employer The Fresno Bee might take the initiative in the name of public service.
In one seat is Brandau. Steve isn’t afraid to go to Washington, D.C. in the name of Veterans Boulevard or fight the governor for more water storage – or call a pansy a pansy.
In the next seat is Bredefeld. To be pro-“In God We Trust” and anti-marijuana dispensaries in Fresno is to be in the line of fire among critics. Garry doesn’t flinch.
In the next seat is Ashjian. Michael Hanson for more years than anyone can remember was king of Fresno Unified. Then he tangled with Brooke. So long, Hanson.
In the next seat is Caglia. Looking for a lawyer who knows how to demolish an old building and help craft a junior college vocational education plan in a region with severe unemployment? Rich is your man.
If such a debate comes to pass, I will tip my hat to the moderator.