‘Round two’: McFarland seeks to fill vacant seat on City Council; GEO appeal on hold till seat is filled

March 6, 2020 /

The McFarland City Council has issued a public notice, inviting residents to submit letters of interest to serve as a city council member.

The public notice comes after McFarland’s former mayor Manuel Cantu resigned following the Planning Commission’s vote to reject the motion to allow GEO to turn two prisons into immigrant detention centers in mid-February.

“The community is energized and wants to do anything possible to push out GEO,” said Rosa Lopez, a policy advocate with the ACLU of Southern California. “The community is working with multiple organizations to put pressure on the City Council.”

GEO submitted an appeal letter in response to the vote in the end of February to the City of McFarland. In the letter to the City Council from the law firm of Gresham Savage, Nolan & Tilden on behalf of the GEO Group, the firm requests the City Council to hold the hearing when all five council members are present, and they all have the opportunity to vote.

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This appeal will be put on hold as there is an empty seat in the City Council. A new mayor was supposed to be elected during City Council meeting on February 27, but council members received push back from McFarland residents on how the appointment would take place.  

“I know that there’s an empty spot in the council, and I know that in this country we respect democracy,” said resident Esmeralda Gonzalez at the City Council meeting. “I’m asking the council that we operate with the beliefs and foundations that all people have a place in this democracy.”

The City Council listened to people’s concerns and were open to have residents submit letters of interest to serve as City Council Member through November 2020. Those interested in submitting a letter must do so by March 12. Letters can be submitted to the Office of City Clerk at City Hall, 401 West Kern Ave. in McFarland.

“The fight is definitely not over,” said Lopez. “This is round two.”

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Kern Sol News is a youth-led journalism organization in Kern County. In their stories, reporters shine light on health and racial disparities in under-served communities across Kern. For more stories by South Kern Sol, head to southkernsol.org.

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Marco Rodriguez

Marco Rodriguez is a youth reporter from Delano for South Kern Sol.