Fresno’s cops have spoken: They like Henry R. Perea in Fresno’s mayoral race and Garry Bredefeld in the City Council District 6 race.
Now comes the interesting part: Watching this partisan decision shape competing campaign strategies as the June 7 primary gets closer.
Fresno Police Officers Association President Jacky Parks on Saturday said the union is endorsing Perea and Bredefeld in City Hall’s only contested races.
Perea is a former District 7 council member who has spent the last 11 years at the Hall of Records as a county supervisor. Bredefeld served as District 6’s representative from 1997 to 2001.
This, in a nutshell, explains the union’s thinking. Perea and Bredefeld have track records of using government power in what FPOA sees as a pro-public safety manner.
Parks said all three District 6 candidates – Holly Carter and Jeremy Pearce as well as Bredefeld – “are all really good people.” He said they’ve made public safety a priority. He said they recognize that crime, particularly burglaries and vagrancy, are big worries among District 6 residents.
But, Parks added, “there’s only one candidate with experience in government, and that’s Garry Bredefeld. He’s been tested. He has that ability to take action and get things done.”
Bredefeld is a clinical psychologist. Carter and Pearce are business owners. The latter two on the campaign trail say quite firmly that their private-sector experience proves their “can do” ability. At the same time, Carter and Pearce say, it’s time for a new face to occupy the District 6 office.
The mayoral fight has plenty of candidates with recognizable brand names. There’s District 6 Council Member Lee Brand, who spent much of the past seven years keeping City Hall out of bankruptcy court. There’s community activist H. Spees, who might have been elected mayor in 2004 if Alan Autry at the last minute hadn’t decided to seek a second term. And there’s former county Supervisor Doug Vagim, fresh from impressive grassroots campaigns involving local garbage and water policies.
Parks had nice things to say about all three. But, he added, the others simply can’t compete with Perea’s long record of leadership at the municipal and county levels.
“At the end of the day it comes down to quality relationships and the ability to get stuff done,” Parks said. “We have 20-plus years of experience with Henry Perea.”
Parks said he has the perfect example of Perea’s knack for influencing events even from afar.
Just about all of the mayoral and District 6 candidates talk about the need for more sworn officers, especially patrol cops. There’s money in this year’s budget to boost the total to 760 (from about 730 at present). The twin challenges are finding enough talented candidates in a hurry and securing the money long term to someday raise the officer ranks to 800-plus.
Perea has carved out a piece of this issue for himself. He says City Hall needs to take 50 cops from various other units and immediately transfer them to patrol. If that’s not done by January and he’s elected, Perea says, those 50 cops will be added to patrol within his first 100 days in office.
Parks said there’s movement within the Police Department as of this moment that will add 40 to 50 cops to patrol.
“I think that speaks to Henry’s ability to effect change,” Parks said.
Now, Police Chief Jerry Dyer, who’s been in charge of Police Department reorganizations for the last 15 years, might have something to say about the spark for such a change (assuming, of course, it’s actually happening).
And I’m guessing Mayor Ashley Swearengin and City Manager Bruce Rudd would also want to give their thoughts on managerial motivation.
Still, Parks’ comments indicate the depth of FPOA’s support for Perea.
Perea in days gone by was a reserve police officer in Fresno.
“He’s put on a gun,” Parks said. “He’s dealt with it and seen it firsthand.”
No need to explain “it” to most Fresnans.
The Perea and Bredefeld endorsements are just part of FPOA’s growing momentum in Election 2016. The police and fire unions recently funded a poll for the mayoral and District 6 races. Parks said a news conference is slated for Thursday to unveil the numbers.
1.) Perea and Bredefeld will be there.
2.) Possible funding sources for the restoration of vital city services will be a topic of conversation.
3.) Brand, Spees, Vagim, Carter and Pearce will publicly respond with vigor.