Pantry member runs for mayor

Carl E. Littleberry Jr., Reporter

On Feb. 15, Mayor of Bakersfield Harvey Hall announced that he would be stepping down from his position and not entering his name in the 2016 Bakersfield Mayoral race. After being the longest tenured mayor in Bakersfield history, Mayor Hall has chosen to give the chance to over 25 candidates who have applied. Hall stated that he wanted to spend more time with his family.

“I want to spend more time watching my daughters basketball team. And watch more of my granddaughter play softball,” said Hall in a Feb. 17 interview with local channel 17 news.

Since being elected in 2000, Hall has served 15 years as mayor of Bakersfield and was deeply rooted in the community. To date, he has given 276 scholarships totaling $234,000 dollars to students in the area and plans to be active in the community after he leaves office on Jan. 3, 2017.

One candidate for mayor is Bakersfield native and Bakersfield College student Nannette Gonzalez. Gonzalez is currently a Spanish major at BC and plans to graduate this year, but those plans have taken a bit of a backseat to her plans for the city. “I want to change so much here,” said Gonzalez. “Nobody understands Bakersfield like I do. I’m 57, I have seen it all and want to bring this town back to a certain luster.”

After just recently filing paperwork, Gonzalez’s campaign may be on fresh legs, however she feels that her stances on today’s problems will separate her from the other candidates. Specifically her stance on the recent gas prices and the small influx of crime rates in the lower east-side area.

“The gas problem is ongoing but I am doing my best to think of ways to represent the community in this crisis. It’s bigger than just Bakersfield; people are losing jobs in gas and paying too much for it everywhere. But my focus is on Bakersfield first, and that’s where I’m starting with my solutions.”

When asked about her stance on crime in Bakersfield, Gonzalez chose to focus more on crime prevention than on increasing the police force like some other candidates. If elected, Gonzalez would ask for more help from the citizens in policing the town, “It starts in our neighborhoods first and foremost. We need to come together as a community and voice out when we see someone committing crimes,” states Gonzalez. “That’s why things like knowing who your neighbors are and the neighborhood watch are so huge for me. My sister was burglarized right up the street from BC in broad daylight, but no one said a thing. I want to change that.”

Not only worried about Bakersfield residents, Gonzales also wants to restore the beauty of Bakersfield and bring back some of the lost tourism she remembers from her days growing up here. Adding that even though the recent drought may attribute to the lessened beauty of the area, people still can do their part to help keep the community clean by just contributing in positive ways around town. “We’re in a drought. I get that, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up on the beauty of our towns and our homes. Look at me. I live here, too, and I had to adjust. No more car washes at home for me or watering my grass everyday. We all have to sacrifice for the better of our city,” says Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, in her own words, is a candidate of the people of Bakersfield. She was born and raised here, she has volunteered and opened non-profit organizations around the world, and, “I care about this city because it’s my city,” said Gonzalez to prospective voters.

“I’m just like you… I pay taxes, I eat at Shake-n-Buns, and I live in the best city in the world, Bakersfield, Ca. Now I’m not saying I’m better than the other candidates, but I’ve always done everything to the utmost of my ability and feel as though I would be a great ambassador for the people of this city.”

You can vote for Nannette Gonzalez and the record 24 other candidates in the biggest mayoral race Bakersfield has ever seen during a primary held on June 7. The general election will take place on Nov. 8.

Three of the seven city council seats are also up for election.