BC student inspired to run for Arvin council
Jose Gurrola Jr., a 19-year-old Bakersfield College student, is running for an Arvin City Council seat.
On Sept. 8, Gurrola stood in front of Arvin City Hall for a press conference and announced his candidacy for the council seat being vacated by the incumbent.
Gurrola is an Arvin native. In 2011, he graduated from Arvin High School, and is currently a political science major at BC.
He believes that the current council is dysfunctional, divisive, and is not cooperating with each other to get the city’s business done.
If elected, says Gurrola, his vision is to see the council “working together and building partnerships that create real solutions.”
His high school’s “We The People” program taught Gurrola how government should work. “Of the people, by the people, and for the people, and the foundation rest with the people” said Gurrola.
Recently, the firing of the city’s police chief drew an overflow crowd to a bi-monthly Tuesday city council meeting. Gurrola and many other constituents lobbied to keep the chief. The council didn’t listen to the people, and the chief was subsequently fired.
“I’m running because I want to be a voice for the people who don’t have one,” he said. “A voice for the voiceless.”
“Being that voice for the people that are too busy working; the people who don’t know English, or the people who don’t know about the government because they dropped out of school so they can help their families in a struggling economy,” Gurrola continued.
His top priorities are making higher education accessible, building a city council that works cohesively, balancing the budget, and developing a prosperous local economy.
“Also they [the council] need somebody who has in mind that they are representing the people,” said Gurrola.
From his “We The People” program and political science studies Gurrola sees the breakdown in his local government’s functions.
How procedures are not being followed, and rules are being bent and broken.
“Somebody told me, ‘you’re 19 and you have no idea how the government is,’ and that is true,” he said.
“I don’t know how to do those backroom deals, I don’t know how to ignore what the people want. I don’t know how to ‘not’ follow the rules. That’s what I learned about, and that’s what I’m willing to bring.”
Gurrola believes his youth is actually an asset because he doesn’t have “preconceived thoughts and convictions,” and he is open to new ideas. His motto is, “leadership with a vision.”
Arvin High School carries some BC satellite courses, but Gurrola feels it needs to be expanded, because with so few course sections, it’s impossible to get an AA degree there. With so little variety, the interest in attending isn’t what it could be.
Plans for the ‘Garden in the Sun’ spray park were approved back in 2009 and funds are available to complete the project, but the land still remains an empty lot. Gurrola believes that this park will create “pathways that children can take to keep themselves healthy, active, and also out of trouble.” Moreover, jobs could be created and that would definitely be a welcome addition to the city.
Opening a public parking area downtown would bring more people to the area, while increasing revenues for the local businesses, and is something easily accomplishable with city council cooperation. He believes they need to look at “how they can make the economy better as a council,” and this won’t happen by “being passive, but [by] being proactive.”
Gurrola understands that the council can’t do anything about the federal budget, but still sees room for local improvement.
“We need to do what we can do, being proactive wherever we can,” said Gurrola.
His campaign is a community-run grass roots organization, and Gurrola and his volunteers are canvassing the city door by door getting his message and vision out and in front of the people.
Gurrola has a small advisory group he brainstorms with regularly, and a score of dedicated friends and volunteers that believe in his mission, and are doing everything they can to elect him to the city council. As his message gets out before the public, he expects many more people to support his campaign.