Fresno Bee voter guide

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Fresno City Mayor

Fresno Bee stories about the race:Brand, Perea hit high gear in nip-and-tuck Fresno mayor’s raceHenry R. Perea wants to cap long political career by becoming Fresno mayorLee Brand rises from humble roots to thrive in business, seek mayor’s office

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    Lee Brand

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    Henry Perea

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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 69
Family Wife Trish Brand, 4 children and 3 grand children and 2 dogs
Education MPA Degree - USC BA Degree- Calif. State Univ., Fresno AA degree - Fresno City College
Occupation President & co-founder Westco Equities, Inc. and Fresno City Councilmember District 6
Public service experience 6 years on Fresno City Planning Comm. 7 1/2 years Fresno City Council
Facebook/Social media Lee Brand Business Person and Lee Brand
I was a key team member on the City Council that helped save the City from bankruptcy. My legislative reform acts including the Better Business Act, Debt Management Policies, Labor Management Act and Reserve Management Act helped provide a solid fiscal foundation for the City.

A precursor for expanding our economy is for the City to be in healthy financial condition. The city is on the path to recovery. In order to generate sufficient revenues to pay for expanded core services the City needs to expand its economy and promote economic development and job creation. My Economic Expansion Act is a detailed blue print to create thousands of new jobs.

At the top of the list for budget priorities is public safety. We need to hire more police officers to restore public safety in our community. We also need to continue to build up our fire department to have sufficient resources to handle fires and emergencies. Bringing in more police officers will help address chronic homelessness and vagrancy problems affecting our entire city.

Other priorities would include building and maintaining more parks and trails; beefing up code enforcement and addressing substandard housing through cost efficient efforts that target chronic offenders; building up sufficient reserves to provide for needed infrastructure improvements; implementing the goals of the 2035 General Plan and revitalization; better cooperation and support of our educational system; and addressing water storage.
One of the factors that adversely impacted the City during the Great Recession years of 2008-2012 was not having a reserve fund for emergencies. During my tenure on the Council we have paid off $36 million in internal loans and build up a $15 million reserve. The fund is to only be used in cases of financial emergencies. It is very tempting to pull money anytime there is a problem or apparent shortfall in services.

it is absolutely essential to build up a reserve that is 10% of the General Fund or about $30 million today. A single payroll for the City General fund is about $6 million. A few years ago, we were one payroll period away from bankruptcy. Cities with best practices usually include a 10% emergency reserve and a 5-10% contingency reserve. We must stick with the plan.

The 10% emergency reserve does not even address infrastructure needs. The City has over $200 million in deferred infrastructure needs that continue to deteriorate because of insufficient funding and a long term plan to address this issue. As Mayor, I would establish a infrastructure reserve fund and a long term plan to address this growing problem.
Public safety consumes approximately 80% of the City's General Fund. There is also a need to hire more police officers to combat a rising crime problem and response to the State prison re-alignment program releasing thousands of criminals on our streets. During the Great Recession, park services were severely impacted. There is a steady recovery of parks services but much more is needed.

Fresno has an extreme shortage of green space and parks throughout the City. The problem with parks has been the lack of funding for on going maintenance. Our challenge is to build more parks and find the funding for capital costs and on going maintenance costs.

My approach to funding capital and maintenance costs are 1) securing more state and federal grant funds; 2) utilizing innovative financing including New Market Tax Credits; 3) engaging the private sector and non-profits for sponsorship and on going funding and 4) growing our economy to generate more revenues for the General Fund.
I was part of a Council majority that approved the 2035 General Plan. This was the first General Plan in over 50 years that did not expand the sphere of influence in the city and focused our resources on revitalizing older, neglected neighborhoods in our community. The new plan also provides a balance with allowance for new development in existing grow areas.

Market forces drive development. You cannot force people to live or work where they do not want to go. You must incentivize development in revitalized areas of Southeast and Southwest Fresno. The Economic Expansion Act that I wrote focuses on industrial and revitalized areas and provides three levels of incentives to reduce costs and encourage development in older neighborhoods and transit corridors.

There should be a mid-term review (5 years through a 10 year plan) of the General Plan to evaluate and assess its impact and its implementation. Appropriate changes should be made to ensure that its goals are being met.
I did not support the original BRT proposal at over $50 million. It was over priced and didn't deliver an efficient plan. I did support a revised version that came back a few months later with a significant reduction in price and a revised transportation model. The new model was modeled after Stockton which uses smaller more cost effective buses. The routes were modified to include Shaw Avenue. Shaw Avenue has many prime destinations including the Save Mart arena, the Maya Theatre complex, Fresno State University, Fashion Fair Mall, and Fig Garden Village Shopping Center.

The Development Code re-zones most of the transit corridors to residential and mixed use categories. Transformation from predominantly commercial zoning to residential zoning will be difficult.

The transformation in zoning and use along Blackstone will require a substantial investment in infrastructure. The City does not have the financial resources to pay for the needed infrastructure. There are a few potential solutions. The best alternative is for the City to obtain state and federal funds to pay for the infrastructure. Another alternative is for property owners to form Infrastructure Assessment Districts.

BRT will not work without a business plan to incentivize new development along the transit corridors. The Economic Expansion Act does offer policies to incentivize development along Blackstone.
Parking structure are a major problem in the City's under funded infrastructure financing. Multi-level parking garages are very expensive to build and maintain. Because of the high cost of construction and maintenance parking fees must be high and occupancy rates must be over 80% to become self sufficient.

In the future, the City must focus on surface parking lots that are substantially less expensive to build and maintain. Private developers should be responsible to build and pay for new parking garages. The City should strongly consider the feasibility of selling some of their money losing parking garages.

The City has to prioritize all of its needs including public safety, public works, parks, and infrastructure needs. There must be a carefully balanced plan that budgets for each respective service in a judicious and cost efficient to best use our limited resources.
I have been a successful business man and job creator for over 37 years owning a company (Westco Equities) that created hundreds of jobs. My business skills were instrumental in solving complex management, financial and legal issues affecting the City. During my tenure on the Council I have wrote or co-wrote and successfully passed 19 legislative acts. Many of these policies were fiscal reform that have fundamentally transformed financial management of our City.

In the past 7 1/2 years I have taken the Council lead on almost every major issue facing the City. I have a proven track record as a problem solver. Working with City Public Works staff I was able to find a solution to our chronic and pervasive copper wire theft problem that had over 3,000 street lights out.

I am the only candidate with a detailed plan called the Economic Expansion Act for creating thousands of new good paying full time jobs. My vision of Fresno is a full economic recovery in our City that reduces unemployment rates below 10% for a sustained periods, raises wages and creates opportunities and wealth creation for all of our citizens. We must break the generational cycle of high poverty, high unemployment, high crime rates and high school drop out rates. This will fundamentally transform our City by substantially increasing City revenues to pay for needed core services and improve the quality of life for all of our citizens.

In the end, a Mayor must lead with his head but listen to his heart.
Age 66
Family Henry is the proud father of Henry T. Perea, Annalisa Perea and Thomas Perea.
Education Henry received his bachelor’s from Fresno State and a Masters of Public Administration from USC
Occupation Fresno County Supervisor
Public service experience Prior to his election to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, he served on the Fresno City Council for six years and the Fresno County Board of Education for five and a half years. He also spent fifteen years as a reserve police officer in the Fresno Police Department.
Facebook/Social media Supervisor Perea for Mayor
The city’s financial priorities should be investing in jobs, public safety and securing its water supply. These priorities go hand in hand. Helping local small businesses grow and attracting new businesses is key to expanding our economic base. Cuts would be a last resort however, if necessary, I would first reduce contract costs with vendors that the city contracts with and reduce positions through attrition. Public safety positions would not be reduced.
I support a 10% reserve and would make it a priority. This commitment improves the city’s bond rating long term and would require no reductions in service to accomplish it.
Parks are very important to the community and should be a priority in the city’s general fund. The first priority is to complete the parks master plan, followed by rehabilitation of existing parks and working with school district to open school grounds for neighborhood use. Community engagement will be vital in this effort as well as securing federal and state grants to build new parks and trails.
I would support the current general plan and work with neighboring cities and counties to take a regional approach to growth. I would apply a solid planning and business approach to implementing the general plan.
The decision on BRT has been made, my job as mayor will be to build it on time and within budget. BRT is an important link in implementation of the new general plan and provides a viable means of transportation for our residents.
Maintaining parking structures is vital to the continued success of downtown. As mayor, I would create public/private partnerships to upgrade and manage our parking structures. Increased downtown business activity will provide additional funds to maintain parking structures.
As the fifth largest city in the State of California, it is time for Fresno to take a leadership role in the Central Valley. I am uniquely qualified to do this. As a 15 year Fresno Police Reserve Officer, a Fresno County Supervisor and over 30 years’ of experience as a Human Resources Administrator, I have a proven record of accomplishment. I am prepared to build the broad coalitions necessary to bring jobs, build Temperance Flat Dam and improve the overall quality of life for our families. As your mayor, I will make Fresno an All-America City again.