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Good afternoon, and welcome to the Fresnoland Lab newsletter. Today is Friday, March 6th.
Tuesday’s election has shown that Fresno County, once again, remains difficult to caricature as a reliably conservative bastion in California.
Of course, most of us who live here understand that.
Fresno County hasn’t favored the Republican nominee for president since voting for a second term for George W. Bush in 2004. Democrats have a registration advantage countywide, with 39% of all voters compared with Republicans’ 32.6%, although the share of No Party Preference voters is gaining, capturing 22.5% of all voters.
Local elections are different, though. Fresno hasn’t had a Democratic mayor since Karen Humphrey, who served one term from 1989-1993 until she was ousted by Jim Patterson (who now represents Assembly District 23). Three out of five members of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors are Republicans, and the remaining two members are moderate Democrats who typically receive support from large agricultural, business and development interests.
And while election results will continue to trickle in over the coming weeks (why?), a few interesting things to note from Tuesday:
Bernie Sanders holds a strong lead in Fresno County, winning with an over 8 point margin over Joe Biden. For a region that touts itself as moderate, leery of taxes and favorable to large business interests – this victory complicates the narrative.
In the Fresno mayoral race, Jerry Dyer is winning a majority with a razor-thin margin. With around 16,000 ballots left to count in Fresno, Dyer needs about 39% of those to come his way in order to avoid a November runoff. The last batch of ballots came in at 47% for Dyer, so it’s not improbable that he could take it all.
The race for Fresno City Council District 4 is still too close to call, with Tyler Maxwell holding a nearly 500 vote margin over Nathan Alonzo. While a nonpartisan race, the coalitions that line up to support the candidates can be telling: Maxwell is backed primarily by labor interests, while Alonzo has received the support of incumbent Democrat Paul Caprioglio but is backed by developers and conservative business interests.
And now, the week’s top reads.
Local school bonds likely to pass in Fresno and Parlier Unified; an uncertain fate in Clovis, Central and Washington school districts. Fresno Bee
The state school bond (with the unlucky and confusing Proposition 13 moniker) appears unlikely to pass with the necessary 55%. School bonds usually pass with flying colors. What happened? Cal Matters
The Fresno City Council approved funding to establish a new smartcard system for riders that will be available this May. Fresno Bee
Fresno City College students at risk for losing the free bus pass program may get some relief, as State Center Community College District and City of Fresno leaders work toward a solution. Fresno Bee
Congressman TJ Cox and challenger David Valadao are headed to a runoff in November. There’s still a lot of daylight between their views on health care, energy, and water. Valley Public Radio
Another drought in California this year is inevitable. Experts say don’t panic. Capital Public Radio
Clovis City Council approves 75-acre expansion to the city’s growth boundary at the request of developer Leo Wilson. Rural residents in the area are concerned about traffic and groundwater supply. Clovis Roundup
The Madera Groundwater Subbasin’s Groundwater Sustainability Plans are rejected by officials with the California Department of Water Resources. SJV Water
Why the 2020 Census is so critical to the region’s schools and students. Fresno Bee
Part-time, freelance and gig workers raise concerns over AB5 implementation at a Clovis town hall. Clovis Roundup
Lindsay received $3.7 million in state Proposition 68 funds to renovate the Olive Bowl and Kaku Parks. The Sun Gazette
And Selma received $4.4 million in state Proposition 68 funds to build a new park near Rockwell Pond. Selma Enterprise/Hanford Sentinel
Yes In God’s Back Yard: new bill proposed would allow churches to build affordable housing on their property, despite zoning restrictions. SF Chronicle
The surge of Bernie Sanders’ popularity, especially in inland California, seems connected to growing working insecurity and housing instability. The New York Times
(Along those lines, it’s not the first time California has embraced a socialist. Cal Matters)
Move over, Elon Musk and your fancy hyperloop project. What’s hot now? Fixing sidewalks, and other super boring infrastructure upgrades. City Lab
The US affordable housing crisis, explained. Curbed
While many cities look to attract business by subsidizing companies, Tulsa is paying remote workers directly to relocate to the city, hoping to stem population decline. City Lab
And, finally – this week’s long read
Concerns continue to grow that despite the implementation of the state’s new groundwater management law regulating how much water can be pumped, individual well owners are likely to experience well failure in future droughts. The Guardian