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Fresno Mayor Brand nominates 2016 campaign consultant to powerful city board

Fresno City Hall

Fresno Mayor Brand nominates 2016 campaign consultant to powerful city board

City Council on Thursday will consider political consultant Terra Brusseau to the powerful Fresno Housing Authority board.

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Another member of what may have been local campaign politics’ version of the 1927 Yankees appears headed toward an important policy-making post in Fresno.

Political consultant Terra Brusseau has been nominated by Mayor Lee Brand to the powerful Fresno Housing Authority board. The City Council on Thursday will have the final say. The nomination is on the consent calendar, which typically means such a deal is as good as done.

Brusseau is owner of The Central Valley Group, a local consulting-management-fundraising firm. Among her clients: the Mayor himself.

I was unable to reach Brusseau or Brand on Wednesday. The CVG website includes a testimonial from the Mayor.

“Terra Brusseau was instrumental to delivering the resources for our victory,” Brand said of his 2016 mayoral campaign. “I’m proud that she was on the greatest campaign team ever assembled in Fresno History.”

Mayor-Elect Brand in late 2016 told me that this team included Tim Orman, Mark Scozzari, Alex Tavlian and Brusseau. Orman quickly transitioned to being Mayor Brand’s chief of staff. A year-and-a-half after Brand’s hard-fought victory over Henry R. Perea, Brusseau is poised to help guide the Housing Authority.

According to documents filed with the City Clerk’s Office, Brusseau’s CVG raised more than $2 million for clients in the 2016 election season. The firm has worked with such nonprofits as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Marjaree Mason Center and the University of the Pacific Alumni Board.

According to the firm’s website, CVG counts among its current clients such local political heavyweights as Congressman David Valadao, Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp, Fresno County Supervisors Buddy Mendes and Nathan Magsig, Clovis Mayor Bob Whalen, and, of course, Brand.

All are known to have a considerable streak of conservatism in their professional worldview. It’s probably safe to suggest that Brusseau does as well.

The Housing Authority serves both the City of Fresno and Fresno County. There is a city board and a county board. Brusseau would serve as a city commissioner.

The Housing Authority is a major player in development throughout the county. The Housing Authority’s website says the agency owns or manages more than 4,500 residential units across the county. These units are rented to low-income households.

More than half of Fresno County’s population lives in the City of Fresno. Obviously, the Housing Authority is pivotal to sustaining and expanding the stock of affordable and good-quality housing stock in our city.

Fresno isn’t too many years away from hitting the 600,000 mark in population. Better housing and higher densification are key themes to Brand’s development and job-producing plans. At the same time, the siting of Housing Authority projects has been known to stir controversy in the Council Chamber and among neighbors.

What philosophy might Brusseau bring to the Housing Authority board table? We’ll have to wait and see.

It’s worth noting that Brusseau would be replacing Virna Santos. Santos, according to her biography on the Housing Authority website, is a graduate of Harvard Law School who served in the U.S. Department of Justice for nearly 20 years. Santos worked with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on programs to advance the education of jurists in Puerto Rico.

Fresno’s mayor clearly is putting his stamp on the Housing Authority board.

I wonder if Terra Brusseau is eyeing even bigger positions of influence in the not too distant future.

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George Hostetter

George Hostetter is a contributor to CVObserver.

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