Freshman city council member Steve Brandau is stepping out of city hall to fix whatever street lights he can in his district. The city was reluctant, at first, to allow the hands-on work. But after a bit of training and some specific restrictions were set several lights in northwest Fresno are back on.
Brandau has only been in public office a few months and he's already reaching new heights. Brandau began Friday replaced burned out street lights and sensors in District 2. He says his office receives many complaints about dark streets.
"We've got 41,000 street lights in our city and we really just have a couple people dedicated to that," he said. "So it's a big job. Really, I just want to assist them."
The city public works office says 3,000 street lights are out right now. Much of the outage was caused by copper wire thieves. That repair work must still be done by public works. But it also leaves lights like this one in the dark while crews fix the crooks handy work. This is where Brandau fits in.
"We don't have the money to pay for that extra manpower to take care of these things super quickly" Brandau said. "The guys we have do a great job. But we just don't have the extra manpower right now."
"I wanted the public to know what this man is doing for the community," said Northwest Fresno resident Lisa Cooper. She has complained about her dark street for 6 months. She was told she'd have to wait almost two years to get a crew to check out the problem.
But after calling Brandau's office, he showed up ready to work. "I'm a nobody, I didn't support him, i've never given him money," Cooper said. "And he came out to do the right thing when times are tough and city employees are backed up. He came out to make a difference and I really appreciate that."
Brandau has a background in construction work and says he's not afraid of heights. So, he figured changing a few bulbs wouldn't be an issue.
"The tax payers are paying me, it's a skill that I have, so I might as well do it," Brandau said.
Cooper is the one who told Action News about the story. Brandau says he didn't really want public attention for the work.
He's only allowed to work on residential streets and says he will likely changes lights where he can, when he gets a few spare hours.