The suddenly wide-open 2024 race to become Stockton’s next mayor keeps adding familiar political faces, including a current county supervisor and a former vice mayor.
Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln’s decision to forego an attempt to seek a second term to lead City Hall in favor of a run for Congress has changed the electoral landscape. City Councilmember Dan Wright and Ernesto Gonzalez have previously filed paperwork to run for mayor, while San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti and former Stockton Vice Mayor Christian Fugazi are also poised to seek the office.
Lincoln, a Republican, also officially filed to run for mayor in May, long declaring it was his intention to seek reelection. But this week in a political turnabout Lincoln instead declared his run for the 9th District congressional seat currently held by Rep. Josh Harder (D-Tracy). Harder won the office in 2020 by defeating Patti in the general election.
Now Patti, 59, is eyeing Lincoln’s job. He put out a text last week in support of Lincoln’s congressional campaign, at the end of which he included a comment about his intentions to run for mayor in the upcoming election.
“I’ve also been asked and am seriously considering running for mayor of Stockton to push for real action on creating jobs, cracking down on crime, reducing the impact homelessness has on our community and creating vocational education programs to help the next generation — all issues I’ve proudly worked on as a county supervisor,” Patti told Stocktonia.
Patti is in his second and final term as the county’s District 3 supervisor, which encompasses the Spanos Park area of Stockton, as well as Lathrop and Manteca. He defeated former Stockton Vice Mayor Elbert Holman Jr. to win reelection in 2020.
The former boxer also competed for the District 9 congressional seat in 2022 to replace the retiring Jerry McNerney. While Patti advanced through the primary to the General Election to face Harder, who had been the representative from the previously-drawn District 10. Harder won by about 10 points.
Patti, who owns the local Delta Cranes company, was born in New York but raised in Stockton. His top priority if elected mayor would be to tackle the issue of homeless in Stockton, a subject he has often focused on during his tenure as a county supervisor.
Known for being outspoken — and at times controversial — Patti said he will run for mayor exactly how he has governed.
“I have zero concern about any decision I’ve made,” Patti said. “I don’t know of anything I spoke of that I would change. I’m doing what is good governance based on commonsense that serves the community, not party interests.”
Fugazi, 54, spent two terms as a city councilor for District 5, which runs north of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and is bordered by Van Buskirk Park on the west side. The longtime educator stated this week she had entered the race.
“I’m running because I am the best prepared for this position,” Fugazi said. “I served on council for eight years in a part time capacity while working full time as an educator and still did my homework. People know I read everything in the agendas, do my research, and have created new city policies as a Councilmember. I’m running against people I like, but I am the best prepared to lead as mayor of this city.”
She served as the vice mayor before leaving office in early 2023 after terming out on City Council. In 2020, she ran for the state Assembly’s 13th District, only missing qualifying for the general election by 30 votes.
Fugazi most recently served as a vice principal at Edison High School until she was put on leave in March. She has since been reassigned as a vice principal at Stagg High, with her tenure beginning this week.
She said her top priorities if she gets back to city hall are public safety, homelessness and quality of life for Stocktonians.
“I love this city,” Fugazi said. “My family has been here since the 1800s. I never want to leave, and I want to make it better.”
Wright announced his campaign in May. Gonzalez is officially registered as a candidate, but has yet to make a public statement.