Fresno Mayoral Hopefuls Ready For November Runoff

June 4, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The race for Fresno Mayor pits an outsider against a city councilman. Councilman Henry T. Perea edged Fresno businesswoman Ashley Swearengin by 239 votes on Tuesday. They're headed for a run-off in November.Fresno County Clerk Victor Salazar says the Mayoral primary drew the lowest vote totals in 100-years. But with a heated race for President shaping up, Perea and Swearengin expect a huge voter turnout come November.

Swearengin was home working the phones a day after securing a spot in the November runoff.

Henry T. Perea was greeted by well-wishers after Tuesday night's slim win.

To borrow a phrase from the NBA, there can only be one. They've separated themselves from the pack, now Swearengin and Perea seek to separate themselves from each other.

Perea said "I think one of the key differences is experience. I've spent the last six years balancing major budgets at city hall as well as pushing progressive legislation that's cleaned our air and diversified our economy."

But Swearengin said "The thing that stands out for me is that I'm really independent from the old Fresno politics and have got executive leadership experience with the Regional Jobs Initiative and the Governor's Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley and I'm not motivated to get a job in Sacramento."

Both candidates are looking for signs of support from those who didn't make the runoff and the endorsement of the man they want to replace. Political consultant Tony Capozzi said "What's important in this race is who will Mayor Autry support."

Capozzi said the Presidential election in November will boost voter turnout well past the dismal 37-thousand who voted for Mayor Tuesday night. He added "I think what's going to happen here is that Perea is going to identify with the Democrats and Swearengin's going to identify with the Republicans."

But both candidates say they have crossover appeal. Swearengin said "This is a non-partisan race and I've got a lot of people on my team that are Republican and Democrat. Lots of independents and I think partisan politics has held our city back in the past."

Perea said "The voters are expecting a mayor who can reach across party lines and bring bi-partisan groups together to solve the pressing issues that we're facing."

With five long months before the election Capozzi thinks the campaign may eventually take on a negative tone. He said "One thing for sure this will be a long hot summer to see what happens in this race."

Ashley Swearengin touts herself as the outsider with business experience. Henry T. Perea says he will push a message of unity during his campaign.


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