Mayor Swearengin Sends Letter to Gov. Brown on Plan to Close Fresno Field Office

Mayor Ashley Swearengin today sent the following letter to Gov. Jerry Brown in response to the Governor’s reported proposal to close the Fresno field office:

January 7, 2011

The Honorable Jerry Brown
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor Brown:

I learned this afternoon through a media alert of your intent to close your Fresno office and would like to respectfully provide you with input on your decision.

First of all, having developed and implemented five budget reduction plans for the City of Fresno over the last 22 months to accommodate an approximate 20% decline in the City’s general fund revenues, I am extremely sympathetic to the drastic and immediate actions you must take to address California’s dire financial situation. The most important thing the City of Fresno needs from its Governor and state legislature is a financially stable, streamlined, functioning state government, and I recognize the pain of budget cuts must be shared by all across the state.

However, I must emphatically stress the importance of considering and including the interests of Fresno and San Joaquin Valley residents as a normal course of business for the Governor’s Office. The Fresno Governor’s Office is the only district office in the eight-county San Joaquin Valley, which is one of the fastest growing regions in the state with some of the most severe and chronic economic, social and environmental challenges in the nation. Historically, those challenges have been overlooked by leadership in Sacramento, as the mega-regions of our state have so dominated public discourse. The Fresno Governor’s Office has been the closest link, and for many the only link, Valley residents have to their Governor.

Should your regional office in Fresno no longer be possible, I offer the following suggestions to ensure that Fresno and San Joaquin Valley residents have a voice with and connection to the Governor’s Office in Sacramento.

• First, please continue to provide a well publicized, local phone number for constituent contact;

• Second, please designate a senior official in your Administration to be the main point of contact for local officials from the San Joaquin Valley; and

• Finally, please direct your cabinet secretaries to be active participants with the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley, the innovative local-state partnership established through a gubernatorial executive order to improve the region.

In closing, I would like to reiterate that I am not asking you to continue unreasonable expenses or overhead the state can no longer afford. However, I am urging you to demonstrate to the people of Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley that there will be concerted efforts by the Brown Administration to reach out to and work with our region. The suggestions I have provided are not expensive ones. Rather, they simply involve your clear direction to your leadership team to be deliberate in their outreach and accessibility to the people of Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley.

Ashley Swearengin

C: Senator Michael Rubio
Senator Tom Berryhill
Assemblymember Perea
Assemblymember Halderman