In the Fresno City Council District 1 race, it’s likely that the top two vote-getters will end up on the November ballot. However, if one candidate can pull off a majority of votes, they’ll win the seat outright.
About the district
District 1 includes most of the older neighborhoods of the Tower District, Fresno High, Quigley Park, and the parts of greater Fig Garden that are incorporated within the city. It also includes newer neighborhoods in west-central Fresno and west of Highway 99 in Central Unified, as well as Highway City.
About the candidates
Mike Briggs is a real estate broker and businessman who has had two stints as a politician in the 1990s and early 2000s, when he served as a Fresno city councilmember and then in the state Assembly until 2004. He owns and operates Central Valley Talk and Tower District Properties/Mike Briggs Properties and teaches courses in music and history at Heald College. Briggs lives in the Tower District.
Cary Catalano is a marketing and government affairs professional and business owner who has served on several local boards, including the Fresno Housing Authority, the Fresno Planning Commission, and the Fresno Chamber of Commerce. He is the chief executive of marketing and public relations firm Catalano, Fenske and Associates. Catalano lives in the Fresno High neighborhood.
Annalisa Perea is a city planner and local politician who serves on the State Center Community College District Board of Trustees. She also serves on the Tower District Design Review Committee and was a member of the City of Fresno’s Police Reform Commission. She is a senior planner for QK, an urban planning firm that consults for public agencies and private developers. Perea lives in the Tower District.
Jeremy Preis is an insurance agent and former Fresno police officer (2003-2018). He has taught criminal justice at San Joaquin Valley College and served on the boards of Valley Caregivers Resource Center and St. Anthony of Padua’s Catholic School. Preis lives in the Fresno High neighborhood.
Who is funding their campaigns?
Click and zoom through the interactive graphic below to learn more. Business interests and developers lead the way in contributions, with suburban single-family developers favoring Perea and apartment and public facility developers favoring Catalano.
On the Issues
Click to learn more about each candidate’s view on the issues.
What are your top three priorities for your community and why? How would you work to achieve those priorities?
Public and Neighborhood Infrastructure, Public Safety (both Police and Fire), Quality of Life measures, which includes meaningful after school programs, Quality recreational opportunities, Senior care, a thriving downtown, and a top-notch public transit system. For decades, Fresno made decision after decision to neglect our established communities, ignore our parks, and allow our urban core to struggle to reach its truest potential. Investing in our neighborhoods is investing in our families, and I will prioritize our budget to reflect the values of putting people and neighborhoods first.
Public Safety: I support more community policing, hiring additional community services officers and dispatchers; working to reduce emergency response times for both our Fire and Police Departments.
Supporting our Police/Fire Chiefs in making strategic decisions when it comes to re-allocating resources to better serve our residents; working with the appropriate local and state decision-makers to ensure police officers receive training opportunities that would include nonviolent intervention and de-escalation.
Neighborhood Infrastructure: I will invest our limited infrastructure resources to ensure we strategize road repairs, sidewalk upgrades; will ensure we care for city trees on a more regular basis; continue to invest in programs that keep our City clean and graffiti-free and support expanding our code enforcement department to hold bad property owners accountable.
Seniors: Fresno is the biggest City in CA with no Senior Center. This is unacceptable which is why I’ll prioritize bringing a Senior Activity Center to Fresno. I will support City programs such as the Senior home repair program and free public transportation programs to assist them with running errands. We must also build more senior living housing so that our aging population can retire here in Fresno.
Public Safety, clean neighborhoods and more jobs – #1 increases #2 automatically. Then we can entice businesses to come to Fresno without them having to worry about their businesses being secure.
Do you think Fresno can build its way out of the housing crisis, or do you think there needs to be regulations, such as rent stabilization or inclusionary zoning, put into place to make Fresno more affordable?
Yes and no. We do need to have an expanded inventory of housing options to offer residents a variety of places to live, and the kind of living space they desire; however, this growth needs to be balanced between infill and new growth areas, as specified in the 2035 General Plan Growth Area 1. This effort could help to stabilize the market and to reduce the overall cost of housing.
The pandemic showed that Fresno is a place to relocate to as other cities in the State are far less affordable; however, our city was not prepared for the influx of new residents moving here, coupled with investors purchasing our extremely limited inventory.
Fresno spent the better half of the 1990’s and early 2000’s with housing prices and rental units fairly stable because supply kept up with demand. As a former City of Fresno Planning Commissioner, I do believe inclusionary zoning is an option to explore to expand affordability. I also believe the State needs to offer regulatory relief to expedite housing growth options and to work more closely with cities to invest in the necessary infrastructure and land options to keep overall project cost down, while expanding down payment assistance to individuals and families at AMI levels that place individuals and families at a higher housing cost burden monthly.
I am also a board member of the Central California Land Trust that is working to put community land and potentially abandoned homes into this land trust to keep units affordable in perpetuity.
A multi-pronged solution to housing will be required in order to meet our state housing goals that the City is required to build for each income affordability level. I support the development of new single-family and multi-family homes and will support incentives to promote more infill projects and Transit Oriented Development (TOD) projects.
I will support higher-density and mixed-use projects, especially along our transit corridors. I support policies from both the Mayor’s One Fresno Housing Plan as well as the community’s Here to Stay housing plan to achieve long-term success by building more affordable and market-rate housing. Some of these policies include, but are not limited to, the development of community land trusts, homeowner down payment assistance loans, tiny home villages, and the rehabilitation of dilapidated properties to transition them to affordable in perpetuity units.
I think there needs to be a form of rent stabilization but not across the board. There are no incentives for builders in the private industry to build affordable housing. We need to incentivize the builders in areas where affordable housing is needed.
How do you propose to reduce homelessness in Fresno and what programs would you support to do so? What city resources would you commit to addressing homelessness? Would you seek to expand the city resources that can be used to address homelessness?
As chair of the Fresno County Housing Authority, I am proud of the work we have done in partnership with the City and County of Fresno to help our most vulnerable population to be housed over the last 15 months.
Expanded bed capacity, access to mental health, drug treatment and other case managed programs is vital to our success. Conversion of these shelter beds to a more permanent solution is key to continuing our programs and meaningful, long-term success for those that need it.
It is also vitally important that we offer and fund diversion programs to prevent homelessness and to expand our Section 8 voucher program to pay a higher rent threshold to our working individuals and families to motivate privately held properties to agree to take our vouchers.
We must immediately develop more emergency shelters and transitional housing so we can focus on relocating our unhoused community off the streets, canal banks, and freeways, and into safe housing. We must invest more in wraparound services to target the root cause of homelessness, which in many cases is poor mental health and drug addiction.
I support the development of tiny home villages because it’s a cost-effective and time-efficient way to immediately build safe housing to get unhoused individuals off the streets quickly. I support funding mobile healthcare clinics to immediately serve our unhoused population where they currently reside.
I’ll partner with our local community college district to help transition individuals onto an educational pathway so that they can get the job training skills to successfully be placed into a job. We must also look to invest in programs like safe camping sites.
Homelessness has trickled down from the state of California and is a direct reflection of Proposition 47 and 57. Decriminalizing ANYTHING is just bad business, frankly, is ignorance at its best. The city has thrown millions of dollars at this issue, and it continues to put bandaids on the problem which keep falling off.
We need to go to the root of the problem which is addiction and mental illness. We need to hold the transients accountable and also get them proper treatment which the STATE needs to support. Propositions 47 and 57 need to be repealed in order for any of this to work.
How would you handle homeless encampments?
With compassion. Meeting our homeless residents right where they are is key. We must offer viable options and solutions which include a safe place to sleep, and case management that develops appropriate individualized solutions that are critical to the next level of support. We also need to offer a safe haven where our homeless population can be until housing options are found. The streets are not safe for them. This environment needs to include clean, safe, staffed with care professionals, with access to food and hygiene options.
We must handle this in a compassionate, responsive, lawful, and effective way. The City should not be conducting clean-ups unless they have a safe place for unhoused individuals to go.
We need to keep them off our city streets. We need to create a “community” far from city limits and offer programs to assist them with addiction and mental illness. We cannot just throw money at an old hotel in an area where crime and narcotics are prevalent. We need to give them a place and the help to get clean and sober. as well as the training to succeed in a job interview and teach them how to get the interview.
What’s your position on the mayor’s city-wide Neighborhood Industrial Overlay District? How do you think the city should protect communities surrounded by industrial uses?
I do not support the overlay at all. Part of my work when I was on the City of Fresno Planning Commission was to look at how to enhance the quality of life for all residents, in particular, those that were impacted by poor planning and heavy industrialization which led to reduced overall health of the neighborhood and body. We were very purposeful in reviewing where and why things should go where they needed to go, first to protect future neighborhoods and to address the inequities for those that had no protection.
I will not support any effort to undermine those efforts we took in 2014 to protect the communities left behind and neglected. So, how would I protect our underserved communities — it is pretty easy, I will stand up for what I did in 2014, and will not support, nor will I advocate for any rezone that compromises our promise to repair and to rebuild faith that every neighborhood matters.
I would support any policy or ordinance that would create buffers between intense land uses and sensitive receptors. The City should partner with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to assist local businesses with cleaning their operations such as securing grants to help transition current technologies to green technologies.
The goal would be to support policies that protect neighborhoods while not decimating jobs that keep our middle-class families employed. I would not support policies that result in the loss of jobs that would subsequently contribute to our city’s homelessness issue. All future industrial projects would be required to be consistent with the City’s General Plan and approved environmental impact report. Any proposed rezone would be handled on a case-by-case basis, with the appropriate environmental review studies being conducted to assist with reducing any impacts to a level of less than significance.
The City should prioritize bringing in new clean energy businesses to our industrial park with a focus on investing in new technologies such as EV trucks to improve the way we move goods. I’ll take a pragmatic approach and bring everyone to the table to make decisions that positively impact our community.
Obviously this is a slippery slope. We need to make sure we are not impacting industry to the point they leave the city. So we must look outside of the box and stay away from the comment of “this is the way we have always done it”. We need industry because it provides tax revenue; however, we just need to be smart, speak to the business owners and get their input also. Because in the long run, the council and mayor work for the people.
How would you ensure that residents are engaged in community and specific plan processes, and that the intent of those plans are followed and implemented?
I think my work during the public transit (Bus Rapid Transit) expansion efforts and nearly five years of community engagement on the 2035 General Plan speaks to my commitment to engaging our residents. No major plans, or policy changes that impact the daily lives of every resident should be done without significant input. This means hosting a ton of community meetings, setting up workshops over several days, and at times where people can participate and to arrange for legislative, and public input at Council meetings where the public can actually participate, and to do it over several days before a vote to maximize community engagement.
My goal would be to involve community members and local stakeholders in the plan development process to the greatest extent possible. I will work to ensure that everyone, especially the people most impacted, is able to influence how we address the most pressing issues. This means ensuring that all of our public outreach materials and events are conducted in multiple languages. If a proposed project is located within the Tower District Specific Plan area, it’ll be important for staff to make the case for how this proposed project is in conformance with the approved specific plan. The same process should be applied to all approved City plans.
Simply getting out and speaking to business owners and residents, bringing them together and figuring out the common ground.
Do you support expanding the city’s growth boundary to accommodate new development? How do you think the city should allow new development without hurting existing communities and residents?
I want to see the full implementation of the 2035 General Plan that was adopted by the Planning Commission that I served on in 2014. This plan offered a blended portfolio of new growth in existing city boundaries and infill development. Growth is to be 50% infill and 50% new growth — primarily west of Hwy 99 to repair the damage of decades of poor planning in that area.
All proposed expansions to the city limits and sphere of influence boundaries should be handled on a case-by-case basis. The target would be to balance orderly growth with the need to construct more housing to meet our aggressive new housing goals required by the state which the city is currently not meeting. Doing so should not come to the detriment of our existing neighborhoods which is why one of my top priorities is to continue making strategic neighborhood revitalization investments in our older neighborhoods.
Right now, we should pause the growth. Our state can’t even keep the lights on when it gets hot outside. Also, the lack of water because of the state’s poor policy and really bad decisions they have made in the past. We cannot provide the simple services of electricity and water without criticism from local and state governments.
Do you have plans to attract non-warehouse jobs to Fresno? How would you do so?
Yes, by prioritizing our city budget on quality-of-life measures designed to enhance our downtown, parks, neighborhoods, our cityscape, and our public transportation system. Companies want to invest in cities that invest in its people and the amenities that it offers. Until we prioritize people, companies that offer a meaningful wage will not locate here.
Yes — I will work with my council colleagues and the mayor’s administration to find new ways to cut “red tape” to make businesses open faster here in Fresno. My goal would be to diversify the types of businesses we attract to Fresno in order to strengthen our economy and bring better-paying jobs for families. I will partner with our local business chambers to secure more resources to invest into our small business community and will increase entrepreneurship programs to help jump start new businesses.
I want all kinds of jobs here in Fresno. We currently have empty warehouses that can be filled. We do not need to build new facilities; let’s use what we have. This state cripples business owners big and small with the minimum wage and huge taxes. There are currently no incentives for businesses to come to this state, let alone this city.
Will you support subsidies for employers if they bring new jobs? What types of subsidies are appropriate, or are not appropriate?
It depends on the direct deliverable outcomes for our community and residents. I believe the City of Fresno needs to develop the “what we want to attract to Fresno” list of potential employers, based on what Fresno needs to diversify its local economic base. I will not support tax rebates on low wage jobs, or more warehouse positions only because it will increase our sales tax-base. It must lift our wage levels. I would be open to infrastructure credit and fee forgiveness, but it all depends on the baseline of economic impact we want it to make for our community and our families.
I will not support subsidies for companies unless there is a direct benefit back to our community such as a local hire commitment from these companies.
Yes…it could be in the form of tax incentives.
Do you think city subsidies for employers should be attached to requirements, including those that give preference to hiring locally, paying living wages, prioritizing unions, or giving protections to surrounding neighborhoods?
As stated earlier, we need to attach jobs that lift our community and our families. We also need to attract businesses to Fresno that we have a trained labor force for. Attracting employers to Fresno and not having a readily trained labor force would cause employers to look outside the area for employees.
I also stated earlier that I would not support any type of employment development in neighborhoods that would put a surrounding neighborhood at significant health risk. We need to tie taxpayer support into agreeable outcomes that lifts our entire community, and wages must be tied to that. I want better than a livable wage, I want people to make a good living, and that is why we need to attract the right employers to Fresno.
I would expect employers to be sensitive to community needs. I don’t necessarily think we should automatically provide city subsidies for them to do the right thing. Any offered subsidies should be handled on a case-by-case basis utilizing a cost-benefit analysis to determine if the proposed subsidies are appropriate and make sense.
NO. Living wages are arbitrary. If you have minimal skills you deserve minimal pay and work your way up as your skills increase.
What projects do you think should be prioritized for state and federal infrastructure dollars? How can local workers and communities benefit?
My primary goal is to target all neighborhoods that have not seen significant community investments in infrastructure for decades with the goal of eliminating the nearly $1 billion in deferred infrastructure repair and replacement cost over the next five years. The communities will benefit from the investment, and local workers will benefit from the increased employment opportunities.
Local road and public transportation improvement projects should be prioritized for state and federal funding. As a city planner, I will strategically invest these resources to target the most critically-needed road and sidewalk repairs. I will also support improving our public transportation systems to promote alternative modes of transportation so that we do our part to reduce air quality and greenhouse gas emissions.
Our streets are absolutely an embarrassment! So many potholes and overgrown vegetation. It seems every time the city does an improvement, it seems to take much too long and only partially completed
What policy proposals would you make or support to improve FAX?
As a candidate supported by the Fresno Area Transit workers, and as the only candidate that worked to expand transit opportunities in Fresno such as BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), FAX 15 and FAX Q, I have demonstrated my support of this system and will work tirelessly to expand service and connection to areas that are desperately in need of it. I will also work to enhance BRT’s promise of faster delivery from point A to Z, and finally I would like to expand the BRT from east Shaw (Clovis) to west Shaw, west of HWY 99.
I would support more of our buses transitioning to clean energy vehicles. I would also support increasing the number of route stops to better serve residents west of HWY 99 and would ensure that additional stops are planned near new schools, new parks, and new housing. It’s also critical that we are intentional about adding bus shelters, benches, and trash cans to ensure that riders during the hot summers have a safe shade area while waiting for the bus.
It needs to be paid for again to ride the bus. The city is paying too much money to operate a system without any revenue coming in. You can only steal from Peter to pay Paul for so long!
Editor note: Responses have been edited for clarity. Mike Briggs did not respond to multiple requests to fill out the candidate survey.