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Candidates Appeal to Voters in Southwest Fresno Ahead of June Primary

With less than 40 days away from the June primary election in Fresno County, dozens of candidates appealed to voters in Southwest Fresno in a candidates forum.
Candidates answered questions at a forum in Southwest Fresno.
Candidates answered questions at a forum in Southwest Fresno.
With the June primary election 38 days away, dozens of candidates gathered Saturday afternoon for a candidates forum in Southwest Fresno, an area of the city that event organizers say needs attention.

The forum was put together by the Black Women Organizing for Political Action (BWOPA), the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce, and the Hugh W. Goodwin Bar Association.

Community members, like Luisa Medina, got to know what the candidates are all about. Medina says coming to these forums are a way of keeping candidates accountable to those they represent.

See what they intend to do, see what they've done in the past--because they can promise something as a candidate, but it's much more difficult once you get into office and start governing," Medina says.

She says she'll be watching closely what happens in the races for district attorney and superior court judge.

The district attorney's race is shaping up to be one of the most contentious and competitive in the county this year.

Friday, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer endorsed candidate Lisa Sondergaard Smittcamp, while incumbent District Attorney Elizabeth Egan reminded the public of Sheriff Margaret Mims' support of her candidacy.

Medina says, as a voter, she's more concerned about the big picture and how the candidates intend to solve important issues. 

"You know, we're all concerned about crime, but I think we need to take a look at the different aspects with the criminal justice system from the prevention side as well as the support services after they come out," Medina says.

Throughout the afternoon, 34 candidates came together to answer questions alongside their competitors.

Muriel Sykes, who represents the local chapter of the BWOPA, says they brought the candidates to Southwest Fresno because it's an area needing attention.

"A lot of the residents in this area do not get the time to spend with the candidates to ask them questions and to bring out their needs and concerns."

Among their concerns--"Education, economic development, and certainly health care," adds Dezie Woods-Jones, state president of BWOPA.

The organizers say getting to know the candidates and becoming knowledgeable on the issues doesn't amount to much if community members don't actually vote.

May 19 is the deadline to register to vote in the primary election, which is June 3.
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