Alternative Needed in Supervisorial District 2 Race

Alternative Needed in Supervisorial District 2 Race

Voters are best served when they have clear choices of rational, knowledgeable and civil candidates. Recently, there has been much activity among Republicans in the Fresno County Board of Supervisors (BOS) District 2 race. As of Feb. 13, no Democrat had announced an intention to run for the position. That would leave voters in the district to choose only between Republicans.

In November 2022, 74-year-old Assembly Member Jim Patterson (R–Fresno), who will term out of the Assembly in 2024, said he planned to run against the incumbent, Steve Brandau, a Republican, for the District 2 seat.1

On Feb. 4, Garry Bredefeld, also a Republican, who will term out of his Fresno City Council position in 2024, announced via Twitter that he also plans to run for the seat.2

On Feb. 5, Patterson notified the Fresno Bee that he had decided not to run.3

On Feb. 6, Brandau announced that he would seek reelection.4

There are many complex problems facing District 2 and Fresno County that require diligent attention. Some important issues that the BOS has failed to address are as follows:

  • The climate crisis, which has led to severe drought and extreme heat conditions in the Central Valley. (Although the Central Valley has received rain in the past few months, it remains in a drought with falling aquifer levels.) As of April 2022, the BOS had continued to allow watering three times a week in the county.9,10,11,12
  • Poor air and water quality
  • Adequate access to healthcare
  • Racial gerrymandering resulting in voter suppression and disenfranchisement of voters5
  • The affordable housing crisis and increasing homelessness
  • Disinvestment that pervades both the city of Fresno and rural communities, for example, the lack of countywide high-speed Internet
  • High poverty levels
  • Lack of non-agricultural jobs and a diversified economy

Based on what they have said and written, there is little difference between Brandau and Bredefeld. Both are right-wing extremists, racists, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-immigrant and White Christian nationalists. Both are anti-government and anti-mask. Both have questioned the integrity of elections. At the May 4, 2021, BOS meeting, without presenting any evidence, Brandau raised doubts about the integrity of the 2020 Fresno election.

Both use fear-based rhetoric designed to dehumanize people they disagree with. Both have exhibited disrespect toward residents who brought their concerns to the City Council and the BOS.13 Both have been uncivil in dealing with the public and their colleagues. Both are conspiracy followers, climate change deniers and advocates for broadening Second Amendment rights.

Given that there is little difference between the two, residents of District 2 need another, better choice.

District 2 is a difficult race for a Democrat to win due to the gerrymandering done by the current BOS.5

Although there are 37,000 more Democrats than Republicans countywide, District 2 has more Republicans than Democrats. As of Oct. 27, 2022, District 2 had 120,000 registered voters with 42,684 Democrats, 46,247 Republicans, 5,035 American Independents and 22,619 No Party Preference.8

Even though Democrats are outnumbered, the seat should be contested. There are a fair number of voters who want a change. The two right-wing extremist Republicans act as though there are no moderate, liberal or progressive individuals in District 2.

They make it clear they do not think they need to hear from those who disagree with them or include those constituents in their decision-making. Both have stated that their constituents are only their like-minded conservatives. Bredefeld said he’s only committed to conservative voters, “to be their voice in a time where radicals and leftists are promoting destructive policies to our community.”14

A reasonable, rational and knowledgeable person with good funding could beat both Bredefeld and Brandau. There is evidence that a sizable number of people who live in District 2 would support a candidate other than Bredefeld or Brandau.

In the nonpartisan primary election on March 3, 2020, Brandau ran unopposed. In that low-turnout election only 59,170 (less than 52%) of the 114,693 registered voters in the district voted. Of those, only 39,277 voted for Brandau; 19,889 voters left the box blank, preferring not to vote for Brandau.

The same is true of Bredefeld’s March 3, 2020, election for Fresno City Council District 6. He also ran unopposed. Again, there was low turnout with only 24,513 of the 45,650 voters (53.7%) voting. Bredefeld received 16,472 votes with 8,041 voters preferring to leave the box blank. Many of those 8,041 were probably also part of the 19,889 who did not vote for Brandau.15

With no opposition, Bredefeld and Brandau did not have to spend money on their reelection. As a result, they have accumulated significant war chests. As of February 2023, Bredefeld had $228,388 in his City Council campaign account, which he believes can be used for a supervisorial campaign. Brandau reported $173,619 in cash on hand.

The problem for Bredefeld is that in August 2020, under threat from a state law, the Fresno BOS capped the contribution amount a candidate can receive from a single contributor to $30,000.16 The County, for now, is interpreting that to include transfers from one political committee to another. If the County’s interpretation holds, Bredefeld’s financial advantage quickly disappears.

District 2 needs a better choice than either Brandau or Bredefeld. To beat Brandau and/or Bredefeld for the District 2 seat, a Democratic candidate would have to be well funded, knowledgeable of the issues, civil, reasonable, rational and personable. For the good of the district and the county, let’s hope the Fresno County Democratic Party can produce that candidate.

*****

James Mendez came to Fresno in 1977 for his medical residency training at what was then called the Valley Medical Center. He stayed to practice medicine and raise a family. He is now a retired physician and a community activist.

References:

  1. Nov. 16, 2022, Fresno Bee article on Patterson running for the District 2 seat: www.fresnobee.com/news/local/ article268845727.html#storylink=cpy 
  2. Bredefeld’s announcement he is running for the District 2 seat: https://twitter.com/GarryBredefeld/status/1621961192200884224 
  3. Feb. 5 Fresno Bee article on Patterson deciding to seek another political office: www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article272130297.html
  4. Brandau and Bredefeld to clash in BOS election: https://gvwire.com/2023/02/06/conservative-clash-bredefeld-in-runningagainst-brandau-patterson-out/
  5. Sept. 25, 2022, article on BOS gerrymandering: www.fresnobee.com/vida-en-el-valle/noticias/california-es/ fresno/article265575811.html
  6. https://elections.cdn.sos.ca.gov/ror/15day-general-2022/county.pdf
  7. https://static.latimes.com/american-independent-party-california-voters/
  8. www.co.fresno.ca.us/departments/county-clerk-registrar-of-voters/ election-information/election-results/results-of-march-3-2020- presidential-primary-election
  9. https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap/ StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA
  10. https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2022-02-14/western-megadroughtdriest-in-1200-years?utm_id=86112&sfmc_id=1857160
  11. 2021–2022 Annual Conservation Report to the BOS shows current groundwater capacity mostly adequate to meet current demand: www.co.fresno.ca.us/home/showpublisheddocument/ 58173/637647050590370000
  12. As in past years, on April 1, 2022, Fresno County resumed a three days-a-week water schedule: www.fresno.gov/publicutilities/water-conservation-program/ water-schedules/
  13. A list of some of Brandau’s offensive speech and actions. Likening residents’ advocacy to an act of prostitution, in January 2018, Brandau called environmental justice attorney Ashley Werner’s organization, the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, “poverty pimps.” https://fresnoalliance.com/brandaus-brutish-brand-of-racism-misogynyreeks/ 
  14. Bredefeld announces on Twitter that he is running for Fresno County BOS: https://twitter.com/GarryBredefeld/status/1621961192200884224
  15. www.co.fresno.ca.us/departments/county-clerk-registrar-of-voters/ election-information/election-results/results-of-march-3-2020- presidential-primary-election
  16. County ruling on capping campaign donations: https://fresnocounty.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx? ID=4602169&GUID=AC2BAD0D-67C3-4510- B9D3-516F133F5A02&Options=&Search= 
  17. https://gvwire.com/2023/02/08/fresno-councilman-looks-to-oust-formerboss-from-county-board-seat/

Author

  • Jim Mendez

    Jim Mendez came to Fresno in 1977 for his medical residency training at what was then called the Valley Medical Center. He stayed to practice medicine and raise a family. He is now a retired physician and a community activist.

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