Politics & Government

Fresno City Council to have a Latino majority; Arámbula headed to victory

Fresno County Office of Education trustee Nelson Esparza was leading local attorney Brian Whelan in the race for District 7 on the Fresno City Council.
Fresno County Office of Education trustee Nelson Esparza was leading local attorney Brian Whelan in the race for District 7 on the Fresno City Council. jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

Assemblymember Joaquín Arámbula, a Democrat who is sailing into another 2-year term representing the 31st Assembly District based on the early counts, sees a change.

So does Fresno City Council President Esmeralda Soria, who faced no opponent to win a second, four-term.

“Our demographics and people have gotten a little more younger and a little more browner,” said Arámbula at an Election Night gathering in downtown Fresno. “We have really shaken the tree.”

Soria, who hosted the gathering of local Democrat candidates, believes the neighborhoods that have been overlooked by the municipal powerbrokers have pushed their way into the decision room.

“It’s an opportunity for us to see changes at the council level,” said Soria, who will be part of a Latino majority on the seven-member council.

This will be the first time since the late 1990s that Fresno, now with a Latino-majority population, will have four Latinos on the council.

Fresno City Council President Esmeralda Soria chats with winning candidates Annalisa Perea (State Center Community College District) and Miguel Arias (Fresno City Council District 3) JUAN ESPARZA LOERA jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

That’s because Fresno City Councilmember Luis Chávez won his re-election bid, while State Center Community College District trustee Miguel Arias and Fresno County Board of Education trustee Nelson Esparza grabbed the advantage over their opponents who were endorsed by Fresno Mayor Lee Brand.

Soria called Arias and Esparza “two stars.”

Arias was confident a win against Tate Hill for the district being vacated by termed-out Oliver Baines in the 3rd Council District.

“We saw since the first group of votes being counted two weeks ago that Democrats and progressive Latinos came out,” said Arias. “I think that’s what made a difference.”

Arias said the revised council majority “will move the city forward.”

More importantly, Arias said the city will do a better job of balancing the needs of older neighborhoods that need parks, street repairs and other necessities.

He wants the city to stop providing large subsidies to employers who move into the city with low-paying jobs.

Economic development is also a priority for Esparza, who will succeed termed-out Clint Olivier in the 7th Council District.

“I want to bring economic development and resources to the district,” said Esparza. “My only promises are to work very hard and to pick up the phone.”

Esparza said he wants to collaborate with other councilmembers to help his district as well as the entire city.

The newly elected councilmembers will take office in January.

Other contests of interest

Arámbula held a 60.3 percent to 39.7 percent advantage over Republican Lupe Espinosa in the 31st Assembly District with about 67 percent of the vote counted in the district that includes

Incumbent Assemblymember Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, had a 68-vote lead over Republican Justine Mendes in the 32nd Assembly District.

Sanger City Councilmember Melissa Hurtado was trailing in the early count to incumbent state Sen. Andy Vidak in the 14th District. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

Sanger City Councilmember Melissa Hurtado, a Democrat, was trailing Republican incumbent Andy Vidak in the 12th state Senate District by 189 votes with 52.6 percent of the votes counted.

Democrat Anna Caballero was trailing Rob Poythress in the 12th state Senate District with 52 percent of the vote counted.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman elected to Congress when she won New York’s 14th Congressional District at the age of 28. Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat, made headlines when she defeated a longtime Democratic incumbent in the June primary.

Democrat Sylvia García became the first Latina to represent Texas after winning the 29th Congressional District, which is 76.4 percent Latino.