Fresno City Council Election Update & Democrat Mayor in 2024?

Fresno City Council District 3 primary race is still close and a strong Democrat City Council after the general election could result in a viable mayoral candidate in 2020 or 2024.

Looks like the election season has a concession speech of sorts – I mean the 2020 election season.

My starting point is this election season. It remains tense.


The latest results concerning Fresno City Hall show that things are still nip-and-tuck for the No. 2 spot in the District 3 council race. Tate Hill currently is second with 738 votes, followed by Daren Miller with 735 and Craig Scharton with 706.

Fresno County Registrar of Voters Brandi Orth on her website says there are still about 1,000 absentee ballots and about 6,400 provisional ballots countywide to count. The next update is 3 p.m. Friday.

Brian Whelan and Nelson Esparza are assured of making the November runoff for the District 7 seat. But who wins the primary is still up in the air. It’s currently Whelan with 1,676 votes and Esparza with 1,647.

That brings me to 2020.

I wrote for CVObserver earlier this week about the possibility of Esparza and Miguel Arias (comfortably in first in the District 3 race) joining District 1’s Esmeralda Soria on the council dais next January.

All three are Democrats. Mayor Lee Brand is a Republican. I opined on whether a surge of Democratic partisanship on the council might inspire the Democrats to run a high-profile, well-financed opponent against Brand in 2020.

Jason Carns, a shrewd Fresno-based political consultant who is helping the Esparza campaign, wrote an interesting reply to my post.

Said Carns: “I think this article is getting a bit ahead of itself. I think Lee Brand will have no serious opposition in 2020, that 2024 is when we will be getting the Democratic Mayor. Also, each council member has their own issues, Bredefeld, Brandau, and Olivier do not agree with Brand on every vote. Brand has done some good stuff for Fresno, and I am sure each council member will look very forward to working with the Mayor on areas of agreement.”

Of course, a lot can happen between now and the 2020 election season. And the Brand political team (I include on this team Tim Orman, John Ellis and Mark Standriff during their non-City Hall hours) is as smart and aggressive as any in the Valley. It’s a team that takes nothing for granted.

Still, Carns’ note suggests I’m not the only one who sees Brand as a likely two-term mayor.

I wonder if Fresno will ever see an incumbent strong mayor fail at re-election.

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