South Kern Sol, Question and Answer, Chris Romo and Reyna Olaguez
Editor’s Note: Three current members of the Arvin City Council are vying to be the next Mayor of Arvin. Jose Flores is the current Mayor and is running for re-election. Jose Gurrola was elected to the Arvin City Council at the age of 19. South Kern Sol spoke with two of the candidates separately to learn more about them and about their priorities for Arvin. Jess Ortiz, 88, has not responded to a request for an interview. Click here to read Jose Gurrola’s interview.
What are the primary issues you hope to address as mayor of Arvin, and how will you respond to them?
Jose Flores: We have issues in regards to safety; we have issues in providing medical services to our community, roads, streets, parks and also water. We are facing all these issues, but the city is not responsible for the water, as there is a special district that runs the water. We are just customers, just like the community at large.
Given that Arvin has the worst air quality in the nation. How are you going to make our city more walkable and bikeable to reduce pollution?
JF: It is not necessarily the answer but it will minimize. We are inheriting this contamination problem from the Bay Area and from L.A. Unfortunately the City of Arvin sits in a bowl that catches everything from these areas, and all that contamination gets here and the mountains that surround us make it difficult for Arvin to be able to get rid of that smog. We have to do as much as we can to have a healthy life and promote to our kids–our future generation–this to provide a better life.
How are you going to prioritize youth in the City of Arvin? Where is your commitment in the city budget to youth?
JF: We need to improve our tomorrow and focus on our youth. Number one is education and all the values, beliefs and morals that parents have to practice with their children. The programs we have in place are to provide services like more recreation activities and funding. I am committed to provide funding to the youth so they can stay in things like sports.
That is something I like about schools. If you get good grades you get to play sports. That is a key factor for the youth: When a child plays sports and they get to go out and play other teams and travel. Many of these kids do not have the money for the food or water. But what I do when these kids come to me, I give them donations so that win or lose these kids have the opportunity to play and no kid should be left behind if they have no money. These are the values we want to promote. The city does not necessarily have to provide the funding because we have businesses donate thousands of dollars to these programs.
What is your vision to achieving racial and health equity in Arvin and Bakersfield?
JF: Healthcare is a service we need to provide to everyone and we need to improve on that because we have not been able to provide all the services the community needs. My focus on that is to bring a new 24/7 urgent care [clinic] to my community to give people access right then and there and not have to drive to Bakersfield. The people of Arvin need an urgent care. I have been having a dialogue with Mercy Hospital and we are working on getting a facility set up in Arvin.
What about you might surprise voters?
JF: Many voters do not know that I have been able to help communities in Mexico. I don’t promote this very often because that is not my style. I don’t want to just look good I want to do good. I do a lot of work behind doors and once the work is accomplished then I will present it. I do things to give credit for Arvin and that gives me a good feeling.