In the Fresno City Council District 3 race, Miguel Arias is the sitting incumbent. If one of the three candidates wins over 50% of the votes, he doesn’t have to go back on the ballot in November. If there isn’t a majority winner, then the top two vote-getters will be on the ballot in November.
About the district
District 3 includes downtown, Chinatown, the older residential neighborhoods of Edison, southwest, Lowell, south Tower, and Jane Addams, but also some newer neighborhoods in the West Area or Central Unified. It also includes most of the city’s industrial parks in south Fresno.
About the candidates
Miguel Arias is the incumbent, after winning 58% of the vote against small business developer Tate Hill in 2018. Prior to serving on the city council, he was an elected trustee with State Center Community College District and held roles at Fresno Unified School District as the chief information officer and as a legislative aide for former Congressman Calvin Dooley. Arias lives in downtown Fresno.
Larry Burrus is a real estate broker and contractor. He ran for this seat in the June 2018 primary and won 604 votes, about 12% total.
Nickolas Wildstar is a musician and activist. He has run for political office several times, including for governor of California in 2014 and 2018, Fullerton City Council in 2019, and mayor of Fresno in 2020. He lives in west Fresno.
Who is donating to the candidates, and what do they represent?
Arias is the only candidate who has filed required campaign finance disclosures in the race. Click and zoom the interactive chart below to learn more about who is donating to his campaign.
Note: Nickolas Wildstar for City Council 2022 has not filed any campaign disclosures with the City of Fresno as of publication date and Larry Burrus has not formed a campaign finance committee to accept political donations.
On the Issues
Click to learn more about each candidate’s view on the issues.
Note: Larry Burrus did not respond to our multiple requests to fill out the candidate survey.
What are your top three priorities for your community and why? How would you work to achieve those priorities?
Diversify our economy beyond Agriculture, Housing, Homeless and Rental Crisis, Fixing Neighborhood Infrastructure
While there are many issues like affordable housing and government accountability that are important to residents, my main focal points as councilman will be to increase job production, reduce homelessness and make sure every neighborhood in Fresno is a safe place to be for everyone. Taxpayer money would be put to a better use if it was invested into building a manufacturing plant to create 3D printed homes which can be constructed in 24hrs out of eco-friendly materials for a fraction of the costs currently being spent for temporary housing. This would also be an opportunity for those seeking employment to learn a new skill and revenue to be generated for our local economy.
I’ll also push to suspend the collection of fees for licensing and city taxes to provide economic relief for residents and businesses struggling to grow. Public funds spent on law enforcement should also include development of resources for neighborhood watch groups, citizen police academies, extensive firearm and deescalation training for officers and members of the community, and other preventive methods to reduce crime.
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?
No, the private market has demonstrated an inability and lack of interest in building beyond market rate in new growth area that results in attracting higher income residents and further increasing rents. Furthermore, incomes are not keeping pace with record rental increases leading to a record homelessness among senior and families on fixed incomes. We must pursue aggressive comprehensive housing options as I have done in my district, but citywide. I am the only council district that has new market single and multi family housing, affordable single and multi family housing, emergency shelters, transitional and permanent homeless housing and single occupancy projects. Any rent control must be specifically targeted to seniors on fixed incomes that cannot afford the $700 to $1,400 rent increases.
Having a 3D printed home manufacturing facility here in Fresno would not only create more job opportunities but it would also create a pathway to provide affordable housing, both of which are desperately needed here in the city. Less regulations and taxes imposed on home builders and homeowners would promote more growth also. Reduced costs for developers that are actually building homes naturally result in lesser costs for people seeking to rent or lease a property. Limited housing only exists because governments attempt to control the market, so as city councilman, I will do everything within my authority to eliminate those restrictions.
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?
We need to replicate the housing and support services in District 3 citywide. We have a citywide crisis and require a citywide solution similar to what has been accomplished in District 3 as referenced above. The city alone does not have sufficient resources and we need collaboration and a true partner with the Fresno County government on the primary recipients of homeless resources.
Mayor Jerry Dyer introduced his One Fresno Housing Strategy which commits nearly $153 million of tax funding to build 2,232 housing units for unhoused individuals, although there’s a presumed 5,000 plus people who are experiencing homelessness. His proposal proves that not only will the city possibly end up spending a significant amount of money to build an inadequate amount of homes but also that a government solution will fall short of remedying the issue. That’s why I would not vote in support of the Mayor’s plan and instead would rather make policy changes to allow the people of the community to provide assistance unlike the new city ordinance that fines homeless advocates, church members and the press $250 for any involvement during an encampment cleanup.
As councilman I will take immediate action to have the ordinance removed to prevent a further liability for the city. 3D printed homes and Earthship development would be a more economical and eco-friendly way to reduce homelessness. Partnering with local organizations to expand job training, mental health treatment, and drug rehabilitation programs will also be steps I take to make sure homelessness is addressed and eradicated in Fresno.
How would you handle homeless encampments?
We need to continue to clear them of trash and human feces as they pose a health and safety hazard to residents and the unhoused, especially when they are near schools, parks and residential neighborhoods while permanently removing them when we have open beds to house the homeless residents.
Getting rid of the ordinance stopping churches, non profit organizations, and individuals looking to provide resources to those in need is a first step to making sure people living in encampments are receiving the assistance they need. Helping our unhoused community to make sure that they have personal items, food, clothing and adequate shelter of course will dramatically decrease the number of encampments there are. Many of the people that are homeless are military veterans, troubled youth, and families suffering from hardship resulting from the pandemic so a humanitarian approach is needed. Forcing people, who are already dealing with a difficult situation, into any type of treatment is an ungodly grotesque concept that I would do everything in my power to stop from ever taking effect. Incentive programs should be offered for community social workers to enter encampments to provide mental health, drug rehabilitation, job training, financial counseling and other services requested by those living there. Mobile public bathroom units with showers should also be made available at encampments along with protection services for safe usage.
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 am not supportive; the city needs to continue to hold developers accountable for responding to neighborhood requests for mitigation and eliminate incentives that only deplete our limited resources for public safety, parks and roads.
After listening to numerous concerns voiced by the community to myself, I could not support the mayor’s plans, nor do I know how any public official would be able to do so in good faith, knowing there is serious pushback from residents. Any proposal favoring developers while also putting the public health at risk should never be on the table for consideration, and I would not allow that as councilman.
City officials should honor their commitment to the public as a representative and their constitutional oath to do so; rezoning areas for industrial use should be rejected if they do not have the support from the people of Fresno. Proposals made by community administrations like the Golden West Side Planning Committee should not be disregarded and take precedence over favored projects that exclude the public’s concerns and are most beneficial to special interests groups. Public oversight is the best way to safeguard neighborhoods and make sure industrial project proposals take into consideration the demand for eco-friendly jobs, financial equity, and will have next to no impact on our environment.
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?
Fully fund outreach plans that remove known barriers to engagement and ensure residents in the neighborhoods are on the decision making committees, instead of special interest, advocates and city staff leading the conversation.
Regular town hall community meetings to keep the public informed on city council activity can be expected from me once I’m elected. Councilman Miguel Arias has left many in our district feeling clueless and powerless when it comes to his actions as a representative. That’s why I feel it’s of the utmost importance that community engagement be at the forefront of decision making by our elected officials. Whether it be online or going door to door, I’ll be making every effort to make sure residents are not only included in the conversation but also have their concerns play a central role in choices made by council. My pledge to the people of Fresno is to make sure that I am always easily accessible, provide open door policy, listen to everyone’s opinion whether I agree with them or not, and stand firm on my vote for every policy proposal. Strengthening public trust is also an integral goal that I aim to be undoubtedly successful at as councilman.
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?
No, the sprawl model of the 1980s has been demonstrated to be a clear and present danger to our fiscal sustainability and resulted in having record pollution. The City of Clovis will soon propose becoming the highest tax city in the Central Valley in order to fund police is further evidence, which is a new growth sprawl model is unsustainable.
Until there has been a significant push to develop the infill throughout Fresno I would not support expansion of city limits. I’d be more inclined to be supportive of proposals to build upwards in Fresno opposed to building it outwards. Residents are more than welcome to an increase of affordable homes, small business presence, park creation, community centers and green spaces throughout their neighborhoods so my time as councilman will be spent on making sure those desires come to fruition. Eliminating government red tape and bureaucratic hurdles that stagnate free market development will also be an aim of mine. Doing this would expedite growth throughout the city where it is needed most without impacting the incomes of taxpayers by way of more government spending.
Do you have plans to attract non-warehouse jobs to Fresno? How would you do so?
Yes, by communicating the strengths of our human capital, abundance of water, and economies of scale for development and growth. In short, we have a lot more to offer than we give ourselves credit for.
My Gold New Deal is a comprehensive legislative proposal to create eco-friendly jobs while reducing our impact on the environment. For our energy sector, a public owned utility operating from renewable energies such as solar power and hydroelectricity generated by water sources like Temperance flats could create a cost free alternative to PG&E customers, community profit sharing, and fuel free backup solutions for one of our most essential needs. Power, water, food, and a sustainable network service are all areas of investment that will be a priority of mine while I am serving the public.
Transportation could also be improved tremendously by utilizing technological advancements like a hyper loop and intra-city transit systems or high speed rail. The current project can be sold to an interested party looking to complete the project with their own funding, alleviating another tax burden for residents. Creating engineering and other trade skill opportunities would also increase the number of careers available that are non-warehouse related. Taking advantage of our agricultural prowess also provides a unique offer to learn farming abilities, gain an apprenticeship, and make lower cost foods available to the community.
Will you support subsidies for employers if they bring new jobs? What types of subsidies are appropriate, or are not appropriate?
Any employer will tell you the best way for the government to promote job growth in the private sector is to reduce the amount of taxes they pay which is why as councilman I will propose a suspension to tax collection on businesses and individuals. With the amount of state and federal funding Fresno receives annually, government operations can be easily afforded without taking additional money from the hardworking people of the city. Non Taxpayer revenue generation also could cover operational costs for the city which means our budget would be incredibly and historically less than every other council before. Bailing out businesses with public funds has never worked and has almost always resulted in an unnecessary deficit; therefore, I will gladly refrain from supporting any plan presented where subsidizing businesses is recommended.
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?
Public funds should not be used to subsidize any private business for any reason at all whatsoever. Every business goes into operation knowing there are risks involved so the best thing for the government to do is to make sure that they are not contributing towards any increase of those risks. Exercising fiscal restraint and responsibility will probably be one of the most notable things about my time as a council member since I will not be very supportive of any attempt to prop up businesses using taxpayers money.
What projects do you think should be prioritized for state and federal infrastructure dollars? How can local workers and communities benefit?
Our current residential roads that are scored as poor and/or failed which are mostly located in south Fresno. New freeways and interchanges should be paid for by development.
Food shortages are contributing to the rising costs for groceries, restaurant meals, decline of supplemental food programs so making sure that we are investing available funds into making sure we have a reliable food supply would be money well spent. Rock farming is a drought-free solution that would make sure that low cost fresh vegetables, fruits, and seafood are available year round. One thing almost everyone learned from the pandemic is that it’s best for us to store our own goods as a community and be prepared for a crisis opposed to having to react to one. Blackouts and power outages have become all too familiar as well even though having a dependable source for energy is imperative for our survival. That’s why I will be working adamantly to make sure fuel-free energy backup solutions are developed, so residents of Fresno will not have to worry about having to live without reliable outlets for energy, water or food.
What policy proposals would you make or support to improve FAX?
Improvements that reduce the record 150 canceled routes per month that we are currently experiencing, a public transit system is a necessity and value when it operates on time and schedule.
I would be eager to support any legislation that would move towards expanding public transportation to include additional bus routes, independent service providers, community rideshare and scooter programs, bike lane expansion, sidewalk installations and other fuel efficient methods of travel. Everyone in the city should be able to travel freely with or without a personal vehicle. Having more mass transit systems readily and easily available reduces commute times for residents traveling to work and students attending school, as well as reduce our carbon footprint on the planet.
Responses have been edited for clarity.