Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

On eve of Larson announcement, candidate emerges for his supervisor seat

On Thursday, Fresno County Supervisor Phil Larson turns 80. Besides being a notable birthday, it’s also the day Larson said he’d announce whether he’d run again for his District 1 seat.

If Larson calls it a career, it will almost certainly be a hotly contested race next June.

Already, Kerman dairyman Brian Pacheco has filed official documents with the Fresno County clerk’s office that start the process to raise money and campaign for the seat.

Brian Pacheco

So, either Pacheco is ready to challenge Larson, or he knows something about Larson’s plans that haven’t been publicly divulged. The answer is unknown because Pacheco didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Whatever the case, Pacheco — a former Fresno County Farm Bureau president — filed a Candidate Intention Statement and a Statement of Organization.
Larson’s decision could set the stage for a major shakeup on the five-member board. If he doesn’t run, it will mean two of the five board seats will be up for grabs with no incumbent seeking re-election.

Last month, Sanger resident Judy Case announced that she’ll step down from her District 4 seat.

Riverdale farmer Ernest “Buddy” Mendes, 57, and Fowler Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Parra, 48, have both indicated they’ll run for the seat, though only Mendes has filed paperwork with the clerk’s office.

Phil Larson

This week, they were joined by a third potential candidate — former Reedley Council Member Steve Rapada.

In 2011, Rapada resigned his Reedley council seat after it was discovered he moved out of the district he represents.

Like Mendes and Pacheco, Rapada has also filed official paperwork.

His entry brings to three the number of people saying they want to succeed Case, but many more are expected. A dozen names are currently being floated of people who are interested in the seat.

Riverdale farmer Mendes looking at Fresno Co. supervisor run

On Monday, Fresno County Supervisor Judy Case said she wouldn’t seek re-election next year. In less than a day, rumors began swirling about those who were thinking about running for the seat.

By Wednesday, the rumor mill had churned out close to a dozen names. But so far, only one person had taken the first official step toward a run — Riverdale farmer Ernest “Buddy” Mendes.

He’s already formed an official exploratory committee. The paperwork is on file with the Fresno County Elections office.

Mendes, 57, said he’s thinking about running because he feels he can give the county effective representation.

He farms cotton, wheat, alfalfa, corn and pistachios and has land on both the Valley’s east and west sides. He also has a long history of public service, including the Riverdale Unified School Board (since 1993), the Southwest Transportation Agency Board (since 1996), and the Riverdale Public Utility District (since 1994). In 2011, he also served on the county’s Redistricting Task Force.

Mendes, however, says running for county supervisor is a big step up from those posts, one that would include significant campaigning and fundraising.

Case represents District 4, which covers the southern part of Fresno County, including the towns of Sanger, Coalinga, Selma, Kingsburg, Huron, Orange Cove and Reedley, among others.