Scharton leaves door open on City Council run

The interim Downtown Fresno Partnership chief was 25 when he took office. 30 years later, he’s kept a focus on revitalizing downtown. He could be running to represent Downtown at City Hall.

The word on the street is that the most resilient man in Fresno is thinking about running for the City Council.

Make that run again for the City Council.


The scuttlebutt is that Craig Scharton might throw his hat into the ring next year for the District 3 seat. Incumbent Oliver Baines is termed out in January 2019.

Scharton was District 1’s council member from 1987 to 1991. He was only 25 when he took the oath of office.

I asked Scharton by phone if he’ll run to succeed Baines. He declined to say yes or no.

“I wouldn’t say it’s out of the question,” Scharton said. “It’s something I’ve certainly thought about.”

Scharton currently serves as interim chief executive/president of the Downtown Fresno Partnership, the property-based improvement district focused on revitalizing the heart of our fair city.

Scharton is mulling over the best way he can contribute to revitalization efforts throughout Fresno, but particularly in District 3.

“To me, the criteria is: How do you push revitalization?” Scharton said. The authority that comes with a council seat, he added, “is certainly one of the ways revitalization can be pushed. I’m a very simple guy. I want our city healthy and revitalized.”

District 3 is, without doubt, the most geographically unique council district in Fresno. It stretches from the new suburbs west of Highway 99/north of Roeding Park to orange groves south of Malaga. Between those two extremes, District 3 contains part of the Tower District, the historic Lowell neighborhood, Downtown, West Fresno and immense industrial parks.

There’s a good chance that the message of a Scharton council campaign would concentrate on experience and disruption.

Scharton was named the Downtown revitalization czar soon after Mayor Ashley Swearengin took office in January 2009. He has been City Hall’s economic development director. He owned a restaurant – Peeve’s – on Fulton Mall.

It’s fair to say that, one way or another, Scharton has been trying to breathe new life into older parts of Fresno since he graduated from Bullard High School many moons ago.

Downtown Fresno today is a much different place than it was 20 years ago. Scharton doesn’t get all of the credit. He doesn’t try to take all of the credit. But he certainly deserves some of it.

At the same time, Scharton told me, there’s a lot of revitalizing work still to do.

“I look around and I say, ‘who’s going to do all that?’” Scharton said.

Scharton has never been short on self-confidence. I think he’d love to get on the council and shake up the status quo.

I called Scharton the “most resilient man in Fresno.” My point: Scharton has been a player on the local political scene pretty much continuously for 35 years. To say he’s been decked (figuratively speaking, of course) a few times is an understatement. But he keeps getting on his feet and jumping back in the fight.

I told Scharton that Fresno is a better place for his toughness.

His reply: “I think it’s more that I’m stubborn.”

1 comment
  1. The Tower District crew will not be pleased at this idea. They blame downtown revitalization for many if not all of the problem the district has experienced in the past 10 years or so. They believe the neighborhood has been sacrificed on the altar of downtown. Scharton would wear a bullseye on his back if he ran.

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