We’ve got the Great Seal of the United States.
We’ve got the Great Seal of the State of California.
And now we’ve got the Great Seal of the Fresno City Council District 7 Campaign of Nelson Esparza.
I’m talking about the image on Esparza’s campaign signs.
Esparza is one of three candidates running to succeed the termed-out Clint Olivier in District 7. The others are Brian Whelan and Veva Islas.
I was walking home from work at Fresno State on Sunday when I passed an Esparza campaign sign posted near a Starbucks on Shaw Avenue. Something caught my eye.
The sign said: “Nelson Esparza – Building Fresno’s Future Together!”
Nothing out of the ordinary there.
But in the middle of the sign was an unusual logo. The logo was circular. In the middle was the outline of a tall building with what might be a flagpole on top. Three stars, like the stars of a lieutenant general, were on the front of the building.
The logo had a blue border. The top of the border said “Fresno City Council.” The bottom said “District 7.”
I said to myself: “That looks like a government seal.”
A government seal, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “constitutes an emblem of sovereignty and is used especially for the authentication of important documents.”
The City of Fresno has a great seal. The seal is circular. In the middle is a bunch of grapes. The seal has a border. The top of the border says “City of Fresno.” The bottom of the border says “Incorporated 1885.”
Let me be clear: The logo on Esparza’s sign is not the City of Fresno’s seal. But to an old City Hall reporter like me, Esparza’s logo sure looks like a government-type seal.
In a tough political race with no incumbent, would one of the candidates look for a branding edge by using a carefully crafted symbol to visually suggest to voters that he already has an official connection to the prized seat?
In other words, is Fresno City Hall campaign warfare ready for “subliminal seduction” (to borrow a term coined by writer Wilson Bryan Key)?
I called Jason Carns, Esparza’s campaign manager, on Wednesday. My question was simple: Is that logo on Esparza’s signs supposed to look like an official government seal? (The signs in the photos accompanying this story are on the southwest corner of First Street and McKinley Avenue.)
Carns said he’d get back to me. He kept his word.
The answer: Yes.
“It’s an original seal for Nelson’s City Council campaign,” Carns said.
The building in Esparza’s seal is a representation of the front of Regal Cinemas at Manchester Center. The Regal Cinemas building, Carns said, “is well-known as a symbol of the heart Central Fresno.”
Regal Cinemas is in District 7.
I called the Whelan campaign, but officials said they would have no comment.