Parks ramps up bid for PORAC leadership, but City Hall could be on horizon

The time may come when Jacky Parks is once again a fixture at Fresno City Hall.


The time may come when Jacky Parks is once again a fixture at Fresno City Hall.


If so, it could be as a City Council member.

On Tuesday evening I asked the former Fresno Police Officers Association president if he’s thinking about running for the District 2 seat currently held by Steve Brandau.

“George,” Parks said by phone, “I’m afraid I’m going to have to pull a Chief Dyer on you.”

In other words, a detailed answer that makes no firm commitments and leaves all options open.

Sure enough, Parks said a District 2 candidacy isn’t something he’s thinking about.

“Have people approached me? Yes, they have,” Parks said. “But I haven’t made any plans. At the same time, I’m smart enough to know you never say never.”

Parks is still a Fresno cop. He’s also in an election fight already. He’s running for the presidency of the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC).

According to its website, PORAC was founded in 1953 as a “professional federation of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.” The association currently represents nearly 70,000 public safety members and more than 920 associations, “making it the largest law enforcement organization in California and the largest statewide association in the nation.”

Parks at one time may have been the most powerful city of Fresno employee who didn’t owe his job to the voters or the mayor. And he may have exercised more clout than some who did fit that description.

Let’s just say that when Parks went to the Council Chamber’s public microphone to deliver FPOA’s position on an issue, drowsy council members perked up.

Parks served 12 years as FPOA president, but decided last fall not to seek a seventh two-year term. That took him out of the public spotlight.

But Parks made a scene-stealing appearance last Thursday at Brandau’s Town Hall on the Veterans Boulevard project. During the question-and-answer period, he stood amid an audience of more than 300 District 2 residents and prefaced his two-part question with what can only be described as a speech.

The Town Hall was held in the cafeteria of Herndon-Barstow Elementary School, in an area west of Highway 99 that has seen considerable growth over the last 40 years. Unfortunately for this immense area, City Hall has consistently ignored its duty to deliver wise planning for all those rooftops.

Parks lives in District 2 and on the west side of 99. His mini-speech to what was essentially a room full of neighbors can be summed up in a five-word Parks quote: “We call ourselves Forgotten Fresno.”

I was there. People around me murmured their approval of Parks’ anger at the lack of basic infrastructure in the neighborhood. Less than 24 hours later, I heard a top City Hall official say he wouldn’t be surprised if Parks has his eye on the District 2 seat.

This is where things get a bit complex.

For starters, Brandau was re-elected last year without a hint of serious opposition. His second and final term runs until January 2021.

At the same time, it’s no secret that Brandau has his eye on the state Senate seat currently held by Tom Berryhill, who is termed out at the end of 2018. Brandau hasn’t officially announced his candidacy. Council President Clint Olivier has.

Fresno County Supervisor (and former District 2 Council Member) Andreas Borgeas and former county Supervisor Debbie Poochigian also are possible candidates for Berryhill’s seat.

Then there is Parks’ PORAC campaign. If elected, Parks would serve for two years. Parks told me that he would serve the full two years, regardless of what happens on the Fresno political scene.

The result is uncertainty regarding Parks’ political future.

Let’s say Brandau runs for the District 8 state Senate seat in 2018 and wins. District 2 voters would have to quickly pick someone to finish the last two years of his term.

Let’s say Parks wins the PORAC presidency. He would begin his two-year term in November 2017. He wouldn’t have other career options until November 2019. Replacing Brandau would be out of the question.

If Brandau doesn’t run for Berryhill’s seat, or runs but loses, then it’s status quo in District 2.

To cut to the chase, don’t be surprised if Brandau is the District 2 council member until January 2021. Don’t be surprised if Parks wins the PORAC presidency. And don’t be surprised if Parks pursues the District 2 seat come late 2019 or early 2020.

I know it’s early, but just imagine the possibilities for political junkies should Parks run for City Council in 2020.

It’s a safe bet Parks would be the favorite to get FPOA’s endorsement.

District 2 is just to the north of District 1. Esmeralda Soria represents District 1. It’s not a stretch to say Soria’s politics lean to the left. I don’t know if Parks is a Republican or a Democrat. I do know he’s an uncompromising supporter of the police.

District 1 and District 2 have many policy challenges in common. It wouldn’t surprise me if Soria (should she be reelected in 2018) and Parks (should he win in 2020) became allies on many issues.

Then there’s Lee Brand. The Mayor almost certainly will run for reelection in 2020. He edged Henry R. Perea (51.2% – 48.5%) in the November general election. FPOA endorsed Perea. On top of that, Brand early in his time on the City Council got into a brief but bitter squabble with Parks/FPOA over a silly incident involving public records. Burying the hatchet is part of politics. So is a long memory.

And what about Garry Bredefeld, District 6’s council member? Bredefeld rolled to an easy victory in the November general election, aided by FPOA’s endorsement. It would surprise no one if Bredefeld ran for reelection in 2020. If so, he might once again get FPOA’s endorsement; Bredefeld during his three months in office has certainly been a vocal and persistent supporter of local police.

But perhaps Bredefeld won’t run for a second term as District 6 council member. Perhaps in 2020 he will run for mayor. There would be a precedent. Bredefeld served District 6 from 1997 to 2001. Instead of seeking reelection, he ran for mayor. (The primary had a crowded field; Bredefeld was among those eliminated by Alan Autry and Dan Whitehurst.)

Soria, Parks and Bredefeld on the same political page during a mayoral election?

I wonder if a similar thought is going through the mind of Michael Evans – you know, chairman of the local Democratic Party.

Photo: ABC30

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