The City Council’s 2023 appointments and nominations for Bakersfield’s committees started this January. Councilmember Ken Weir and Councilmember Patty Gray were not present and their appointments were not voted on.
Many eager locals were voted onto committees such as Golden Empire Transit District Board, Keep Bakersfield Beautiful Committee, Bakersfield Public Safety/Vital City Services Measure Citizens Oversight Committee, and the Miscellaneous Departments Civil Service Board.
All appointments for the night were approved by the city council. Cindy Parra will be a member-at-large for the Golden Empire Transit District Board.
Representing Ward 1 is Jenilee Fermin and alternate Anna Smith to the Keep Bakersfield Beautiful Committee. New appointees also include Brooks Douglas and Sophia Felix from Ward 4 and Paul Yanez and Harwant Gill from Ward 7.
Brooks Douglas, a Representative for Keep Bakersfield Beautiful, shared that all work is volunteer-based and consists of litter pick-ups, beautification projects, flower and tree planting, and graffiti removal.
“I love it because I’m part of the community. It’s great to give back to the community. It’s great to feel good that you cleaned up a street or a neighborhood,” said Douglas.
Bakersfield Public Safety/Vital City Services Measure Citizens Oversight Committee renewed membership for Mark Dewey from Ward 1 and Nicholas Ortiz from Ward 4. Councilmember Kaur’s nominee was Norma Rojas-Mora, Executive Director, Government Relations Partnerships and Development for Kern Community College District and Bakersfield College.
“I have been tracking this committee since its inception, it is part of the tax measure passed by the city residents,” stated Rojas-Mora.
She is excited to join the committee, and she wants to ensure the taxpayers dollars benefit the communities that need the support. Rojas-Mora has a background working for over 20 years at the Housing Authority of Kern and was the past President of Latino Leaders of Kern County.
The application process is simple according to Rojas-Mora, and it only asks you to provide a resume. For more information visit bakersfieldcity.us.
“I was very excited to nominate Norma Rojas-Mora, she has been a pivotal leader in our community for years, in fact, she introduced me to a lot of the leadership opportunities that I had early on as a high schooler,” said Councilmember Kaur.
Councilmember Kaur explained, “Measure N was a very important proposition on our ballet that passed, and it’s an important responsibility for those who are behind the thoughtfulness that goes into how that money is spent.”
Concluding the night’s appointment process were Vice Mayor Gonzales’ recommendations for the City Council Committees and other special boards for the 2023-2025 term.
“I think we have a real opportunity -the city of Bakersfield- given the fact that we passed the public safety initiative in 2018 so we are now four years in terms of full implementation. We have an incredible number of ARPA [American Rescue Plan Spending] dollars that are still unallocated so we have a real moment to make some game-changing projects for our city. Things that will move our city forward. As we continue to grow and diversify, we need to do a few things. We need to work on making sure we have equitable infrastructure improvements, meaning in many disadvantaged neighborhoods that have been long underserved we need to make sure that there’s a far greater investment in those neighborhoods. Neighborhoods east of the 99- that’s first and foremost,” stated Gonzales.
Goals involving beautification and infrastructure are part of Gonzales’ main focus for the committees. Transportation concerns regarding improvements on roads and whether residents have access are specific talking topics.
“Within the next few weeks, we’re going to take some time developing a collective vision as a council, identifying what goals are a priority to us, and then working at specific objectives. Then we’re going to reorganize these standing committees,” Gonzales said.
Appointments made by Vice Mayor Gonzales and approved by the City Council include:
Budget, Finance, and Economic Development Committee, Vice Mayor Gonzales is chair with Councilmembers Ken Weir and Eric Arias.
The legislation and Litigation Committee, chair is Bruce Freeman with Councilmembers Manpreet Kaur and Vice Mayor Gonzales.
Personnel Committee, chair is Ken Weir with Councilmembers Bob Smith and Patty Gray.
The planning and Development Committee, chair is Manpreet Kaur with Councilmembers Bruce Freeman and Bob Smith.
Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods Committee, chair Eric Arias with Councilmembers Patty Gray and Manpreet Kaur
Water Board, chair Bob Smith with Councilmembers Bruce Freeman and Vice Mayor Gonzales
Housing and Homelessness Committee, chair Vice Mayor Gonzales with Councilmembers Eric Arias and Ken Weir.
Ad Hoc Committee on the topic of multi-modal transportation and traffic safety, chair Eric Arias with Councilmembers Bob Smith and Manpreet Kaur.
Additional appointments made for the City Council were to Kern COG and EDC, Kern River Groundwater Sustainability, LAFCO, Solid Waste Management Advisory, and San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. All Councilmembers present voted to approve all appointments except Bruce Freeman, who voted against them.