FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – During a special closed meeting on Tuesday, the Fresno City Council voted to appoint Fresno County District Attorney’s Office Prosecutor Andrew Janz as the City of Fresno’s permanent Fresno City Attorney.
The vote was 5-1 in favor of Janz with only Councilmember Garry Bredefeld voting against the appointment. Both Councilmembers Esmeralda Soria and Luis Chavez were not present at the meeting.
The Fresno City Attorney position had been filled by Rina Gonzalez during an interim period – created when the permanent position was vacated by Doug Sloan on June 3. Sloan was first appointed to that position in 2013.
Meanwhile, Sloan is currently in litigation against Fresno City Council President Nelson Esparza – alleging that Esparza attempted to extort him. Even stating in court that his conversation with Esparza was what in the end pushed him to look for a job elsewhere.
Since then the City of Fresno has been searching for a permanent replacement. In April, Councilmember Mike Karbassi floated the idea of naming Janz as the Fresno City Attorney. At the time, Janz was not interested.
“I appreciate my friend Councilmember Karbassi’s kind words. However, I have no plans to leave the District Attorney’s Office. I remain fully committed to seeking justice for victims of violent crimes as a prosecutor,” Janz said.
Seven months later Janz has had a change of heart and will now take the position.
Janz received his Bachelors and M.P.A. from California State University, Stanislaus, and his Juris Doctorate from Southwestern Law School. Since 2014, he has served the District Attorney’s Office as Deputy District Attorney handling some of Fresno County’s most complex and high-profile cases.
With the new position, Janz will have to work closely with Mayor Jerry Dyer, who Janz ran against in the 2020 primary Fresno mayoral election after then-Mayor Lee Brand decided not to run for re-election. Janz lost to Dyer only receiving 39.9% (39,430) of the votes to Dyer’s 51.6% (50,914).
During this race, there was some controversy involving the Fresno County Board of Supervisors. They wanted to adopt a proposal for county employees to seek a leave of absence to campaign for political office. This was something that Janz believed was targeting him specifically, even threatening to sue the Fresno County Board of Supervisors.
Before that, in 2018 Jaz ran against the incumbent Republican Devin Nunes in what was then California’s 22nd Congressional District. He lost in a close race: 52.7% to Nunes and 47.3% to Janz. Both candidates combined raised almost $22 million.
This race also had its moments of controversy. In early August 2018, before a town hall meeting, Janz was going to attend a social media threat that almost caused the cancellation of the event. At the time also claimed that allegedly a Nunes family member had disrupted a commercial shoot. Then in September 2018, one of Janz’s campaign offices in Visalia was vandalized and burglarized.
In speaking about Janz’s record and joining the City of Fresno Council Vice President Tyler Maxwell said, “Janz has been a Fresno County prosecutor for nearly a decade and has proved in that time that he has the necessary integrity and experience to serve Fresno as the next City Attorney. I know he will be the bold leader our city needs as we navigate the next generation of issues facing Fresno.”
Janz also commented on taking on the new position as Fresno City Attorney, looking back at his time with Fresno County and his feelings about his new position.
“For the last eight years, it has been a true honor to represent the People of the State of California as a prosecutor. Working under District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp, we were successful in seeking justice for many victims of violent crime including the most vulnerable victims. I’m humbled by the Fresno City Council’s trust in me to lead the Office of the City Attorney and look forward to this challenging opportunity to serve the People in a new capacity.”Andrew Janz