Feb 24, 2020
Fresno City Councilman Lee Brand prepares for an interview at The Cosmopolitan restaurant in downtown Fresno on Nov. 8, 2016 shortly before being elected as Fresno’s mayor. (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian)

Republican Lee Brand elected as Fresno mayor

Fresno City Councilman Lee Brand has been elected as the mayor of Fresno, according to the Fresno County Registrar of Voters.

He bested his opponent – Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea – taking a little over 53 percent of the vote by 1:42 a.m.

The mayoral campaign parties were on edge Tuesday night as votes rolled in and favored back and forth between Perea and Brand.

Perea held his campaign party at The Painted Table in the Tower District where his team and supporters anxiously waited the first round of polling results.

Perea said one of the most important issues addressed in this election is public safety, especially in the Fresno State community.

“This is a great example of where the city and the university can work better,” Perea said. “I know each has their own police department, but each kind of stays within their jurisdictional boundaries. We need to re-think how we patrol and keep people safe.”

Perea said the cooperation between Fresno and University police departments is the key to a safer community.

“They could cross over each other’s boundaries and it doesn’t matter whose boundary it is. It matters to keep people safe,” Perea said.

Alongside reducing the crime rate, Perea also mentioned creating a cleaner city that offers more jobs to young people is a priority to him.

Victor Torres, a volunteer for Perea’s campaign has been phone-banking, canvassing, and trying to get as many people to vote as possible.

“I grew up in Fresno and I’m ready for a Democratic mayor. Someone who is different, someone who is not from the north side of the city,” Torres said. “ Perea does represent, in my opinion, people who have been left behind.”

The mayor’s job is officially a nonpartisan office.

Torres said the most important part of this election is the revitalization of downtown Fresno.

“It’s revitalizing downtown, and helping downtown flourish,” Torres said. “That way more people can visit downtown and that way we can make the Fresno economy go up.”

Tadeh Issakhanian, another volunteer for the campaign, has focused on reaching out to the Armenian and Sikh communities.

“I think they are underrepresented,” Issakhanian said. “The Armenian community is big – has been here for over 100 years and the Sikh community is emerging .They are brand new voters and there aren’t many people catering to their needs.”

Issakhanian said that it’s time for Fresno to have a mayor who accurately represents the community.

“We have kinda done things the same way with our mayors for so many years. We’ve had Republican mayors from the north side of Fresno for over 20 years,” Issakhanian said. “I think kind of matching the diversity of the city with the leadership of the city.

Issakhanian supported Perea for his positivity throughout the campaign

“During the election, you kind of see how people run campaigns. [Perea] has been very positive … versus Brand who has been doing a lot of negative campaigning,” Issakhanian said. “The kind of campaign you’ll run is the kind of administration you’ll run.”

The atmosphere was even more confident at the Cosmopolitan in downtown Fresno where Brand and his campaign team celebrated as the first round of votes came in with Brand in the lead.

Brand’s campaign is focused on increasing business in Fresno and creating more jobs.

“What I want to do is create thousands of jobs,” Brand said. “I want Fresno to be a place where kids stay. Talented people … go on to the bay area or L.A. but I want to keep them here.”

Brand, like Perea, said that a connection between campus and city police is necessary to create a safer city.

“We need to get police on the streets more, we need to get a better presence,” Brand said. “We need to coordinate with the campus security, because that’s what it is – lack of coordination.”

Kylie Brand, Lee Brand’s 16-year-old granddaughter was at the campaign party and said she hopes that young people took the time to vote.

“It’s the future of their education,” Kylie said. “Their mayor does affect their future. It’s something they need to take interest in.”

James Kraft, a political science major and senior at Fresno State, said that Brand will succeed in boosting Fresno’s economy.

“I think it’s awesome that the Republican Party could hold the city of Fresno for four more years,” Kraft said. “I feel that his policies will better allow for growth for the city of Fresno. He will make getting a job in a year in Fresno a realistic prospect.”

Kraft said students need to pay attention to local politics.

“Knowing who your mayor and your assemblymen are as important because they are the actual people who impact your day-to-day,” Kraft said. “They determine whether the pothole in front of your house is fixed, whether the police officers will respond to your call … so state and local government matter.”

Brand is confident, but said this it’s not over until the last vote is counted.

“We’ve worked so hard. Seven days a week for the last 10 months,” Brand said. “So far we are doing good, but we’ve got more votes to count.”

In the middle of the night, as 100 percent of local precincts reported, Brand won the election.

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