BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Last week Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez made it known she intends to run for the state assembly seat currently held by fellow Democrat Rudy Salas — if and only if Salas runs for Congress, as is widely anticipated.
Well, another political domino is tottering. If Perez vacates her seat on the Board of Supervisors halfway through her term, a member of the Bakersfield City Council could make a run to fill the county’s Fifth District vacancy.
Democrat Andrae Gonzales, who currently represents Bakersfield’s Second Ward, says he has been giving it a lot of thought. But with two gubernatorial elections scheduled over the next 15 months and redistricting a factor as well, uncertainly reigns.
“Say Supervisor Perez leaves the Board of Supervisors, leaves her position,” Gonzales told KGET in an exclusive interview. “That position then became a governor’s appointment. So there’s no telling who the governor will appoint for that interim period.”
“… So there’s a lot of unknown variables at this time. And so, at the risk of sounding evasive, I would say I’m open to all possibilities at this moment.”
Gonzales was elected to the city council in 2016. His second ward includes downtown Bakersfield, Old Town Kern, Westchester and Oleander-Sunset.
Speculation about Salas’s future has focused on the 21st Congressional District seat held by Republican David Valadao. Democrats Nicole Parra and Bryan Osorio, as well as Republican Chris Mathys, have already declared their intention to challenge Valadao, who only a year ago won back the seat he lost to Democrat TJ Cox in 2018.
In a text message Salas told 17 News he ll be making the decision in the next couple of weeks, noting that many are, quote, “eager” for him to “jump in the race.”
Perez has represented the 5th supervisorial district since 2012, the same year Salas was first elected to the Assembly. Salas won’t be termed out of the state legislature until 2024, but he would have a much tougher go of it if he waited an additional two years and then had to try to dislodge a Democratic incumbent like Parra, rather than Republican incumbent Valadao in the upcoming campaign. The 32nd District tilts strongly Democratic.
Perez’s current term on the Board of Supervisors doesn’t expire until 2024, so any vacancy occurring before that time would be filled by the governor — whoever that might be — after the Fall 2022 election.