Elliott Balch, the chief operating officer of the Central Valley Community Foundation and a top lieutenant to former Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, ended his bid for Mayor of Fresno on Tuesday.
In a statement issued online, Balch said he was unable to dedicate the amount of time necessary to running a campaign with a path to victory.
“I have realized that I need to be directing my available time and energy into the health of my family rather than into the campaign,” Balch said in the statement.
Balch, once downtown revitalization czar for Swearengin during her tenure at City Hall, was seen as an alternative to Fresno prosecutor Andrew Janz with an emphasis on the city’s urban core.
“In its next Mayor, Fresno must have a leader committed to lifting up Fresno’s people, neighborhoods, and economy,” Balch said.
The announcement came as a surprise to some, as Balch was scheduled to hold a meet-and-greet with youth voters on Thursday in Tower District.
The nonprofit executive becomes the second candidate to exit the Mayor’s race in a month. In July, Fresno City Councilman Luis Chavez announced he would quit his bid following the release of fundraising totals for the first half of the year.
Balch raised $44,313.68 for the first half of 2019 and spent minimally. He ended June with $43,107.69 cash-on-hand.
In his statement, he said “much of the contributions received will be returned to donors on an equitable basis.”
Balch’s exit leaves the race to replace Fresno Mayor Lee Brand to two credible candidates – Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer and Janz.
The California Primary is March 3, 2020.