BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – The five candidates in the race for 5th district supervisor shared their goals for Kern County Wednesday.
Incumbent 5th District Supervisor Leticia Perez is facing a challenge from four hopefuls seeking to represent the district which represents much of south and east Bakersfield.
Perez, who has served as supervisor since 2013, said her role in appropriating grant funds for projects like the soon-to-be-completed South Bakersfield Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School and neighboring Belle Terrace Park restoration plan demonstrate her commitment to the district.
“I feel very loved and supported by this community and my voters because I know they know how hard we have worked to bring real opportunities for families, for working people, for regular Kern County people,” she said.
“People ask me, ‘Perez, you’re going up against four men on election day,’ and I like to remind them I’m going up against four men every Tuesday and I think I do alright,” she continued with a chuckle.
Ben Valdez, a realtor with Miramar International, is challenging Perez for the seat.
“Is our district better off today than it was four years ago? Unfortunately, it’s not,” he said.
Valdez said he wants to provide employee training opportunities for those who call the 5th district home — a district he feels has been forgotten.
“If you live in the 5th district, you realize we are a complete mess right now. It’s unfortunate that when you have one incumbent going against four different people, that speaks volumes in itself that need to be changed.”
David Abbasi, a businessman, entrepreneur, and coordinator, said if elected, he would prioritize county employees.
“I’m going to give the county employees raises. We’re going to make sure we stop waiting money, so that we can afford it,” he said.
Abbasi added he would bring a breath of fresh air to the board.
“Together, we’ll bring integrity and transparency to the board. Kern county deserves better.”
DR. RICARDO HERRERA:
Dr. Ricardo Herrera is a trustee on the Greenfield Union School District Board.
He also is the owner of the El Zarape Mexican Restaurant on South Union Avenue. Herrera said, if elected, he would tackle the issue of poverty.
“The reason we see a lot of poverty in this part of town is because there is a lack of economic development taking place. And that should have taken place already years ago,” he said.
Ronnie Cruz is the sales manager at El popular, Kern County’s only Spanish-language newspaper. He also is the creator of “Feed it Forward,” an annual event which provides hundreds of thanksgiving meals to those in need.
If elected, he says he’ll work to make Kern Country streets more safe.
“If I save one life, mission complete. My number one priority in Bakersfield is to stop the killings. That’s what we need in Bakersfield, and to bring public safety to its highest levels. We want it so safe, that if you’re walking in the 5th district, you could think you’re walking in 7 oaks, or river walk blvd where you won’t get harassed, robbed, or fear for your life. Safety is number one.”
The candidates will square off at a live KGET debate on Thursday, February 26th at 7 p.m. The debate also will be live streamed on the KGET Facebook page and website, KGET.com.
Jim Scott and Eytan Wallace will moderate.
*Wednsday marks six days until primary election day set for March 3.