Good morning, and welcome to the Fresnoland Lab newsletter. Today is Friday, February 28th.
Have you voted?
If you haven’t noticed, voters in Fresno County are experiencing the first election under the new California Voters’ Choice Act. (Madera County voters already went through their first election with the new system in November 2018. Tulare and Kings Counties still remain on the traditional system.)
Goodbye, walking to your local precinct to vote on Tuesday.
Hello, options! A quick run-down of how you can (still) vote through March 3rd:
You can put your ballot in the mail (postage is free, mind you)
Drop off your ballot at a Drop Box
Go to any Vote Center, which are open every day from 9am-5pm and 7am-8pm on Election Day (March 3rd)
Return your ballot at the Fresno County Registrar of Voters
I never received my ballot. What can I do now?
You can call the Fresno County Elections Office at (559) 600-8683 or email them at email@example.com. You can also visit a Vote Center and receive help there.
I already sent in my ballot. How do I know if it’s been received and accepted?
You can visit www.voterstatus.sos.ca.gov to find out if your ballot has been received and accepted. Ballots can be rejected if they are not signed or if the signature was deemed irregular. Around 2,000 ballots have been rejected so far in Fresno County. Voters have until March 28 — two days until the election is certified — to clear up the problem. If your ballot was rejected, call the Fresno County Elections Office at (559) 600-8683 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m not registered to vote. Is it too late?
You can still register to vote and vote in the primary election up until March 3rd by showing up to a Vote Center or to the Fresno County Registrar of Voters.
And, if you’re still undecided on several races, we’ve got you! (Well, not for the Democratic Presidential Primary. If you’re a registered Democrat, take the New York Times Democratic Candidate Quiz? We hear it’s good.)
Let’s dive into the local races.
Quite a bit has been covered about this race in The Fresno Bee. Brianna Calix wrote sharp profiles of the front-runners Andrew Janz and Jerry Dyer. Thaddeus Miller wrote about where campaign donations are coming from and how a plan to further concentrate homeless navigation centers in Chinatown by Jerry Dyer creates a sharp line between the two candidates’ approaches to addressing the city’s growing affordability crisis.
Fresno: City Council District 4
District 4 encompasses what is considered east-central Fresno, and includes notable places such as the Fresno-Yosemite International Airport and Fresno State. It has a diverse mix of neighborhoods, including older post-World War II suburbs built in the 1950s-60s. But District 4 also holds part of the city’s boundary to the east, and some of the last remaining vacant land in Fresno within Clovis Unified School District, where there is growing pressure by developers to continue building out.
Candidates Tyler Maxwell and Nathan Alonzo are in a very heated race for what some say will be a power shift on the City Council — from a more center-right coalition to a relatively more progressive coalition. Even if you don’t live in this district, it’s a race to watch.
They’re pretty popular locally on this ballot, and with good reason, according to the Bee’s Education Lab reporters: local school districts need their own bond money in order to qualify for state bond funds, if California’s Proposition 13 passes on March 3rd. Monica and Isabel from Education Lab do an explainer on the Fresno, Clovis, and Central Unified bonds here. (And speaking of the state’s Proposition 13, CalMatters has a good explainer here.)
And now, the week’s top reads.
Calwa Park in southeast Fresno receives $6.6 million in Proposition 68 grant funding for major renovations, only one of two projects awarded in Fresno County. Fresno Bee
“We are allies of the U.S.,” said Pao Yang, who came to the U.S. when he was 6 years old. “And when we became allies, we became enemies of the country of Laos because of our involvement in the Secret War, and now to send (back) children of the veterans … for me, I think it’s a human rights violation.” Fear grows as the Trump administration moves to deport Laotian refugees. Fresno Bee
Many apartment complexes in Fresno still lack smoke detectors despite regulations, an ABC30 investigation finds.
Advocates call into question undisclosed economic interests of some members of Fresno’s new General Plan Implementation Committee. Fresno Bee
Ambitious new air quality program aims to bring more community members to the table in making recommendations. Here’s how it’s working so far. Valley Public Radio
Congressman Jim Costa introduces new bill to increase federal funding for high-speed rail. Fresno Bee
California vs Trump, water edition: A day after President Trump visited Central Valley growers to celebrate providing more water to farms, California sued his administration to block the new rules that would do so. KQED
And, finally – this week’s long read:
“But beyond the headline economic numbers, a multifarious and strangely invisible economic crisis metastasized: Let’s call it the Great Affordability Crisis. This crisis involved not just what families earned but the other half of the ledger, too—how they spent their earnings. In one of the best decades the American economy has ever recorded, families were bled dry by landlords, hospital administrators, university bursars, and child-care centers. For millions, a roaring economy felt precarious or downright terrible.” The Atlantic