FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --The field of candidates running for mayor of Fresno is growing. Former Fresno County Supervisor--Doug Vagim-- officially announced his candidacy Thursday. Vagim believes he is the candidate best-suited to reduce the city's debt.
In Fresno the three men running for mayor have familiar faces. Henry Perea is a county supervisor. "I have a passion for this community and a demonstrated record."
Lee Brand sits on the city council. "I give the mayor credit for keeping the city out of bankruptcy, keeping the city financially sound, and I think I played a big part in it."
H Spees is a pastor, on his second run for mayor. "I'm here, I've got the fire in the belly-- I'm all in."
All three want to be the next mayor and they debated the issues facing the city in four 30 minute rounds. Round one Focused on the homeless and affordable housing. "Always treat people with dignity. My first position will always be to go that pan handler and say, look here, here's a program, here's a service, here's a place for a job," said Perea.
Brand said, "Create opportunities for people to do better-- to get a piece of the American pie."
Round two-- Public safety, but the city is short on cops and money is an issue. "The rules of the game have changed. Primarily because of Prop 47 and the state prison realignment, which has put a lot more criminals out on the street," said Brand.
Perea said community-based policing is the answer and proper deployment is key. "When they're in those neighborhoods, they are talking to people, meeting folks, they're understanding what the issues are and they're fixing the problems."
Round three and four, schools and parks. Infrastructure and community development, including downtown Fresno. "It's hard to see neighborhoods develop when you've got a hole in your heart," said Spees.
The biggest issue came at the end of the debate-- High-Speed Rail. Spees is against it and would rather see money go to water projects. Brand thinks it'll fail, but believes the city needs the jobs it could bring. Perea wants the jobs too, but he believes in the project and said it could make Fresno a better city.