Fresno Bee voter guide

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Fresno City Council District 6

Fresno Bee stories about this race:Fresno voters will select two new City Council members in NovemberBredefeld outgains, outspends Pearce in Fresno City Council race

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    Garry Bredefeld

  • Jeremy Pearce

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Biographical Information

During the Great Recession, the city struggled to keep its budget in balance and mend its finances. That meant painful choices -- slashing departments, jobs and services. As the economy recovers, what should the city's financial priorities be? And if you had to cut, what would you cut from the budget?

The Swearengin Administration wants to build a reserve of about 10% of general fund revenues. That could mean the reserve could be as much as $30 million by 2019. Should the city build a reserve of that size, even if it means limited expansion or even short-term reductions in services and smaller raises for employees?

The city only has limited general fund dollars and is trying to rebuild its police and fire departments. Where does parks fit into this? Park money comes out of the general fund, too. And do you favor new parks or rehabbing older parks?

With its new general plan, the city is trying to discourage sprawl and encourage more development within the existing boundaries – especially in older areas of the city. What is your opinion of the new general plan? If you could change it, what would you do? Or is it perfect as is?

What is your opinion of the proposed bus rapid transit system? Right now, routes are proposed for Blackstone, Kings Canyon and Shaw avenues. Is it a good idea? Is it viable? If not, how should it be changed?

Downtown parking garages are a mess and need millions in repairs. The money would have to come from the general fund. Is it worth it? Left to deteriorate, the repair costs will increase. They structures are needed for the recreated Fulton Street to succeed. But what about police and fire needs?

Why are you the most qualified person for this seat?

Age 59
Family Susan, Wife Aimee, Daughter Jordan, Son Derek, Son
Education BA, Rutgers University MA, Yeshiva University Ph.D. California School of Professional Psychology
Occupation Clinical Psychologist Business Owner
Public service experience Fresno City Council Member, 1997-2001
Facebook/Social media Facebook-Garry Bredefeld, Fresno City Council 2016 Twitter-@GarryBredefeld
The City Council's first and most important priority is ensuring the safety of every citizen. That means making sure the staffing levels for the both the Police and Fire Departments are strong enough to meet the security needs of the City. We need to hire at least 100 more police officers to get to the 850 sworn police officers we had before the recession. The Fire Department has also lost a significant number of firefighters yet calls for service have increased.

I have outlined my plan to immediately hire more police and firefighters which includes selling unused, vacant, City-owned land. This would include: 1. Approximately 20 acres at Herndon and Brawley, which is valued at about $6 million. 2. Approximately 16 acres at Chestnut and Behymer, which is valued at about $5 million. 3. Palm Lakes Golf Course is closed and has 32 acres, which is valued at about $1 million. 4. Sell Naming Rights to the Convention Center which should yield about $1-2 million annually for 10-15 years. This would be an on-going revenue stream to fund public safety while the first three would one-time money. 5. We would also continue to seek all federal grant money to hire more public safety officers.
Yes, the City should build a 10% reserve as sought by Mayor Swearengin. Like any household or business, having a reserve fund is essential in order to handle any unexpected or unanticipated problem that may arise. In our own homes, expenses can typically occur that we did not anticipate or emergencies can arise and we need to have money available to deal with those potential issues and problems. Businesses face the same potential problems and must have reserves available or they face possible closing of their business.

Fresno has never really had reserves set aside to deal with emergencies such as the Great Recession. This lack of an adequate financial reserve can result in staffing reductions with public safety, services not being able to be expanded, new parks not being built, and reductions in some important services throughout the City. Having a 10% reserve would certainly protect us in the future from having to either cut services or not maintain them, or seeing the kind of reductions in public staffing levels that are critical to maintain the safety and responsiveness we expect when we need police or firefighting services.
I favor building both new parks AND rehabbing older parks. As new developments occur, parks and green space should be a part of those new developments. The mayor and City Council recently entered into an agreement with Fresno Unified School District to keep open their fields after school, which I strongly support. Every Council Member should always ensure that all areas of the city are full of green space and have an adequate number of parks. A new park was just approved in the cultural arts district while several others are being rehabbed and improved, which I strongly support. While on the Council, we were able to get Selma Layne park built, a skateboard park built, new trails and bike lanes. These kinds of amenities are critical to the quality of life for any community. I was a strong advocate before to get these amenities built and I will be a strong advocate again!

Woodward Park is an obvious treasure for the entire city. Recently, we have seen trees not taken care of and have had some incidents related to safety in the park. I will ensure, just as I did before when serving on the Council, that not only is Woodward Park effectively taken care of in terms of maintenance but it is safe and a secure place for families to recreate and visit. This comes back to ensuring that the public safety has the necessary resources to establish a strong presence throughout the city, not only in neighborhoods but in parks, as well.
Fresno has, unfortunately, had a history of poor planning that often led to urban sprawl and leap-frog development. This resulted in difficulty providing critical police and fire services, a lack of parks and green space, increased traffic congestion, and the erosion of agricultural land. It was for these reasons that I have supported our growth becoming more compact and encouraged development within our existing boundaries, which is consistent with the new general plan.

However, while I support and encourage in-fill development and more compact growth, I also support an orderly expansion in relation to new development. Our city needs to continue to grow and new development is important to Fresno, but it must be done in a sequential fashion. We want every neighborhood, old and new, to be safe, have critical services, and have the type of amenities that provide high quality of life for every family. But currently we are seeing new, quality housing developments going to Madera and Clovis and that is not healthy long-term for Fresno. There needs to be a balance between having compact growth, in-fill development, and also encouraging high-quality, new sequential development.

Lastly, I have always encouraged residential developers to meet with residents who resided near or around their new development to discuss any concerns the residents had, and to adequately and effectively address them, which they often successfully did. That will continue in our district.
I appreciate the efforts of our current city leaders in trying to address critical transportation needs Fresno has and also addressing inner city issues. While bus rapid transit (BRT) may have a role in addressing those issues in the future, I do not feel now is that time, and for that reason I don't support BRT.

We currently have a bus transit system throughout the city that has seen ridership decline. We recently had a debate at Clovis Community College on North Willow Avenue. Students at the college complained that they would use the FAX bus system if it was available to them but it is not. From my perspective, we clearly need to continue improving our current bus system and routes rather than spending money on BRT. Additionally, we have roads throughout the city and in District 6 that need to be fixed and repaved and using money that would be allocated for BRT would be better utilized repairing and repaving our declining streets and roadways.
Yes, the parking garages have to absolutely be fixed and repaired. We have the best triple AAA baseball stadium in the country and about 500,000 people visit the stadium every year. We had over $90 million of private investment downtown last year and are projected to have at least that amount this year. Older buildings like the Security Bank Building are being bought and rehabilitated with offices and beautiful lofts overlooking the downtown. Home builders have spent nearly $80 million dollars of private money building 460 lofts and apartments in the Mural District. Major technology companies such as Bitwise Industries have come to the downtown area. And more recently, the Fulton Mall is being renovated to allow traffic. With all of this new development, private sector investment, new housing, new jobs, and rehabbing of older buildings, the parking structures will be utilized more and need to be safe, secure, and easily accessible.

Police and firefighter staffing levels will ALWAYS be the first priority in Fresno. But we can certainly ensure the safety of our citizens while also focusing on other important issues, too. We can make sure we have a strong economy, our schools are meeting our children's educational needs, we have more parks and green space and repairing roads and fixing old infrastructure is also extremely important and can be accomplished, as well.
My life has been about helping and serving other people. After obtaining my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, I joined the Navy in order to serve my country. I worked with Marines and Naval personnel and am extremely proud to be a veteran. After my service, I returned home to Fresno with my wife and started a private practice and began working at the Fresno Veterans Hospital, where I have now worked for 24 years. As a clinical psychologist, I listen to people and help them solve problems. These skills are clearly needed in the public sector.

In the late 1990's, Fresno was ranked number one for auto theft and was crime-infested. In order to help make the city safer, I ran for and was elected to the City Council. We hired 170 police officers, reduced graffiti, fixed our streets, and increased parks and trails. Because of these efforts, we turned the city around and Fresno became an All-America City.

I've raised my family in Fresno and we love this city. I know that despite Fresno's current challenges--increasing crime due to Prop 47, decreased public safety staffing levels, homelessness, vagrancy, a weak economy--we can turn this around just as we did before. I know how to get positive things done, and always do so in a principled way.

As a veteran, psychologist, business owner, and your former Councilman, I've demonstrated my strength, leadership and experience in fixing problems. We solved serious problems before and with your support, we will do it again!
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