Luis Chávez looks forward to building southeast Fresno economy

Newly elected Fresno City Councilmember Luis Chávez and Fresno City Manager Bruce Rudd look at a box of stuff that Chávez is unpacking.
Newly elected Fresno City Councilmember Luis Chávez and Fresno City Manager Bruce Rudd look at a box of stuff that Chávez is unpacking.

The swearing-in ceremony for the newest member of the Fresno City Council Monday morning was short and sweet for Luis Chávez.

City clerk Yvonne Spence did the honors at city hall. A few hours later, Chávez was trying to figure out how to install a flat-screen television in his new councilmember office.

The change for Chávez, who wrapped up four years on the Fresno Unified School District board last month, did not cause much disruption. His old office was just down the hall, where he has served as chief of staff for six years to the man he replaced on the council, Sal Quintero.

Quintero – who is expected to lead a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony for Chávez on Wednesday – left in the middle of his fourth term after being elected to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors.

Chávez missed the formal swearing-in ceremony last Thursday due to an illness in the family.

One of his first priorities is to establish a southeast Fresno leadership program for students from Roosevelt and Sunnyside high schools “to learn about public service.”

“I want to make sure they learn about the decision-making roles,” said Chávez, a 1997 graduate of Roosevelt.

Chávez expects big changes in Fresno, and especially in southeast Fresno. He points to the Fancher Creek Town Center development as a catalyst.

“It will be a game-changer for southeast Fresno,” said Chávez. “It will be better than Riverpark because it has the same developers and they’ve learned from it. It will be a better version.”

Chávez – who was succeeded on the Fresno school board by his fiancé, Elizabeth Jonasson Rosas (they have planned a July 4 wedding) – said the $35 million development will include theaters and sit-down restaurants.

Ground broke on the development last year. The project sits between Kings Canyon and Belmont, and between Clovis Avenue and Armstrong.

Education is also a top priority for Chávez. He loves the idea of a community college campus in southeast Fresno, and embraces the concept that Fresno State began when it opened a satellite campus at Visalia’s College of the Sequoias.

Chávez said Fresno will be going through major changes with various leadership changes, not limited to his election to the city council. He points out a new Fresno mayor (Lee Brand), two new Fresno County Supervisors (Quintero and Nathan Magsig), two new school board members (Jonasson Rosas and Claudia Cázares) and a new Fresno school district superintendent to be determined.

“The city of Fresno will look very different in 10 years,” said Chávez.

(This story will be updated).