BAKERSFIELD, CA - The Bakersfield City Council seat vacated by Assemblyman Rudy Salas has five people vying to take over the spot. A special election will be held June 4th and will cost the city an estimated $100,000.
Four candidates met with the city clerk Monday to gather the paperwork to start their bid, and one more is expected Tuesday. The next step for each of the council hopefuls is to gather 20 valid Ward One voter signatures to get their names on the ballot.
Ward One in southeast Bakersfield has been one of the most economically blighted areas of the city. The Census Bureau puts the poverty rate in some pockets of Ward One as high as 60 percent.
City Council candidate Willie Rivera hopes to improve the quality of life and safety for Ward One residents. "As I have said, it is the community with the greatest need in Bakersfield, and really, the community with the greatest potential. We're standing by public safety, ensuring that we have enough police officers on the streets, patrolling the streets, keeping our kids safe," said Rivera.
Sunday night, a man was shot and killed outside a market on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Last year, two-year-old Ka'mya Robinson was shot to death while playing in her front yard, the innocent victim of a drive-by shooting between rival gang members.
Candidate Stephanie Campbell grew up in Ward One and knows what goes on in the area. She thinks she can make the biggest difference. "The city and the county both have programs and communities that work on gang prevention and violence. I served for four years on the city's Safe Street Neighborhood committee. There's bullying going on and so much violence day-to-day," said Campbell.
Besides Rivera and Campbell, Donald Vereen, Tomeka Powell, and Marvin Dean have expressed an interest in representing Ward One on the Bakersfield City Council.
The candidates have until March 8th to gather the necessary signatures and turn in their paperwork to be added to the ballot.