BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — This June and November voters in Kern will face a slate of options. 17 News is sitting down with Kern’s candidates so the county can make an informed decision.
Now, we are turning to the newly drawn 35th Assembly district which stretches from Arvin to Delano and includes much of East Bakersfield. We have two candidates in this race so far including current Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez.
A closer look at Leticia Perez
A third generation Bakersfield resident and Highland High School graduate, Leticia Perez has been a well-known Democrat in Kern County politics since she was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2013.
“It’s hard to imagine someone else being able to compete with the experience and the time that we’ve put into the district,” she said.
Before entering politics, Perez attended U.C. Santa Barbara and law school at Valparaiso University in Indiana. She returned to Kern to work for the Public Defender’s office, where she says she represented impoverished clients.
As the only Democrat on the Board, Perez has often been starkly divided with her colleagues. Over her nine-year tenure, she has frequently been the sole dissenting vote in many a four to one decision by Kern’s five supervisors. She believes it’s taught her to listen to those across the aisle.
“We’re more of a purple center and when we really drive our energy and attention towards that area, we can do so much together,” she said.
Now running for the newly-drawn 35th Assembly district, Perez is hoping to succeed her close political ally Bakersfield Assembly member Rudy Salas, who is running for Congress.
When announcing her candidacy, Perez said she wanted to work to keep Kern a global energy powerhouse.
“We have the number one oil basin in the world,” she said. “We have the number one cleanest domestic production in the United States in the hardest state to do business — period. We’ve managed that here.”
Energy is an issue in which Perez has strayed from the majority of her party in the past.
“These are not partisan issues,” she said. “Fundamentally, these are issues of the economy and these are issues of Kern County’s economy.”
As many Democrats in the state continue to limit oil and natural gas production, Perez joined her Board colleagues in voting to approve new oil wells in Kern last year.
“I really feel that being a Democrat in this conversation is a huge advantage because I’ve had the opportunity to be educated here by the experts,” she said.
Along with energy, Perez said, if elected, she hopes to address homelessness and public safety.
If voters send her to Sacramento, that would leave her seat on Kern’s Board vacant for year. Governor Gavin Newsom could appoint someone to fill it.
17 News invites everyone running for office in Kern to speak with us about their candidacy.