Westside Church of God hosts first city council debate for district 3 this past week, where a string of seven candidates addressed the audience.
FRESNO, CA -- As June 5th primary election slowly crawls around the corner, different races are beginning to heat up; in fact, last week, Fresno's district 3 candidates were introduced to the public as a whole for the first time this year: Miguel Arias, Larry Burrus, Tate Hill, Daren Miller, Sean Sanchez, Craig Scharton and Kimberly Tapscott-Munson. Currently this seat is still held by the Honorable Oliver Baines until December 31, 2018.
See full debate here!
The varied experience of each of these candidates will prove to be part of the confusing decision for voters: Former, amicable, Fresno Unified School District librarian Kimberly Tapscott Munson is a community activist who has been passionately involved in high-profile inequalities in west and southwest Fresno, CA areas, even pursuing a lawsuit against the daily foul-smelling meat rendering plant Darling Industry. She also attended every meeting and was a vocal part of the debate and allocation process in regards to the $70 million TCCP grant. However Tapscott-Muson may be too green to the political arena to handle a district that has been suffering for over 32 years under leaders who have had a lack of city governmental experience and basic economics.
Tate Hill ran for the same seat in 2010, and has been on various committees concerning the infrastructure of district 3 ever since. As his current focus in his job, at Access Plus Capital, is to help small businesses, prior to that he was the President and CEO of the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce, although the organization's influence and focus was not concerning west & southwest Fresno residents and business owners.
Developer and landlord Sean Sanchez shares the frustration that many developers go through when trying to build properties in district 3 due to the lack of infrastructure. He is knowledgeable in what needs to be done to help attract more businesses. Unfortunately, he too, is very green to the political process for an ailing district and has acquired the horrible reputation as a slum lord that has been plastered throughout social media by various previous and current tenants.
Educator Daren Miller and his family have had a church strongly rooted in district 3 for many years; his family is well known and respected. However, Miller's disgruntle attitude and negative encounters in the educational field has attracted many enemies, giving him the reputation as a difficult person to work well with others, as well as not having the political savvy to handle the position.
Licensed contractor and engineer Larry Burrus has worked in district 3 for over 30 plus years in his own business; he even ran for office in the early 2000s, conceding to the Honorable Cynthia Sterling. Although he has the in-depth community knowledge in regards to land use and the discrepancies that follow, he too would need to brush up on a course revealing the demands of the city council seat; as an overwhelmed business owner over several enterprises, time may be his biggest enemy.
Current State Center Community College District Board of Trustee, District 5, Miguel Arias, who is originally from Mendota, CA, has a track record of success in assisting bringing a college campus facility to district 3 along with millions of dollars, against all odds. Although he has been serving mostly in the educational sector for the last several years, his earlier position as a chief of staff to Fresno city councilman Blong Xiong and an as a legislative assistant for Congressman Calvin Dooley proves to be of some value in this crowded race. However black community members and leaders have feared and complained that his reputation for a lack of diversity to helping other cultures other than his own could be his downfall. See Arias' official announcement below!
Finally, Downtown Revitalization Organizations Director, Craig Scharton, meets the "more than enough qualifications" as Arias: he was District 1’s council member from 1987 to 1991 at only age 25, and has garnered over 30 years of experience in city government operations locally, California-wide and nationwide. Scharton achieved passing through the uphill battle to getting the Fulton Mall opened up in downtown Fresno, CA. However some are concerned that his sole interest is mainly the downtown area, and that promises made to other neighborhoods in the district may not come to fruition, leaving Southwest Fresno in its current destitute. See Scharton's press conference below!
Stay tuned for more politics on the ONME Network as we continue to follow political races throughout the Central Valley.