BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The mayor of Arvin, in a tight race for re-election, and two challengers for spots on the Delano City Council have requested that Sunrise Kern, a local group of climate activists affiliated with a national organization, take back their endorsements.
Arvin Mayor Jose Gurrola and the two Delano candidates made their requests after Sunrise Kern used vulgar language in a social media post criticizing Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, who was in Delano over the weekend campaigning for Delano City Councilman Joe Alindajao, who is up for re-election.
Sunrise Kern is the group of progressive activists that picketed in front of Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s home in Bakersfield at 4:30 in the morning several weeks ago, demanding among other things that he hold a public town hall meeting. That strategy generated some controversy but at least had some support.
Not so much with this latest debate.
Zimmer came to Delano Saturday to walk precincts with Alindajao, Delano’s mayor pro tem and a prosecutor in Zimmer’s office.
Sunrise Kern made mention of Zimmer’s appearance on social media — and used a common expletive that starts with an “f” to describe its feelings about her.
That prompted Arvin’s Jose Gurrola — one of the valley’s most liberal mayors — to post on his campaign Facebook page a request that Sunrise Kern take back its endorsement of his candidacy. Gurrola, asked for comment, referred KGET to his campaign Facebook page.
Gurrola’s action also prompted two of the seven candidates for three seats on the Delano City Council to reject their Sunrise Kern endorsements as well. Sal Solario Ruiz, who represents the 4th District on the Kern County Democratic Central Committee, and Veronica Vasquez, a social worker for Child Protective Services, have also returned their Sunrise Kern endorsements, according to a Democratic Central Committee Spokesman.
And that’s an appropriate move, according to Alindajao.
“This kind of nonsense, this kind of divisive language and tactics, are not going to be tolerated, not in Delano,” he said..
Delano minister David Vivas agreed.
“That (word) is problematic because, first of all, in context, the f word is hate speech,” he said.
But Sunrise Kern spokeswoman Riddhi Patel was unapologetic. She said politics isn’t always pretty and the organization’s dislike for DA Zimmer should be well known by now.
“You know how politics are,” she said. “Like, it’s a complicated mess of a game. … The issue comes, though, when you’re more frustrated at us saying a curse word. … We have been saying for months that we dislike Cynthia Zimmer.”
Delano City Councilman Bryan Osario, who is not up for re-election this time, has supported Sunrise Kern in the past, even participating in the picket outside McCarthy’s home, but said this is one approach Sunrise Kern might want to reconsider.
“I also condemn the use of those ad hominem attacks,” he said. “I think it wasn’t constructive at all. I do know Kern Sunrise social media can be a bit more passionate in how they express themselves.”
Sunrise Kern has been in existence only since July. Is this a teachable moment for its leaders? Maybe. But then we’ll have a better idea after the votes are counted early next month.