BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — 24-year-old Eric Arias and 30-year-old Gilberto De La Torre are running for the Bakersfield City Council 1st Ward seat, hoping to replace councilman Willie Rivera as he steps down in the middle of his third term.

Ward 1 covers much of East and South Bakersfield — an area challenged by some of the city’s highest rates of crime and unemployment. Roughly 21,200 registered voters live in the area, according to

Gilberto De La Torre has lived in Ward 1 for 25 years.

“I’m passionate about your children’s safety. I want to see them grow up safe, I want to see them provide for their families. I want to be the man in city council ward 1 who’s there for you, holds my hand out, shakes your hand and betters the community, De La Torre said.

De La Torre has an associate’s degree in political science from Bakersfield College, a bachelor’s degree in political science from Cal State University, Bakersfield, and a master’s degree in public administration also from CSUB. He’s an employee of a local rental center.

He ran for this seat two years ago, but lost to the incumbent by a slim margin.

Eric Arias grew up in Bakersfield, spending six years working as a field representative for Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas and County Supervisor Leticia Perez.

“I’m running for Bakersfield City Council for a simple reason: I think the status quo for so many of our families there in our southeast communities have been struggling for years. And the status quo isn’t working for so many families,” Arias said.

Arias has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Arias enters the race with endorsements from the Kern County Democratic Party, Rudy Salas and incumbent Willie Rivera.

The candidates joined 17 news for Kern County In-Depth– where they both say they prioritize public safety.

De La Torre also placed a brief emphasis on job creation.