Bakersfield Ward 1 residents and volunteers have been gathering signatures on petitions to force the city council to hold a special election, and so far, they've gotten about half the 1,220 signatures they need, said Ward 1 resident Marvin Dean earlier this week.

Former Councilman Rudy Salas stepped down from the Ward 1 seat to take the 32nd Assembly District seat he won in November. There's two years left on Salas' term, which means the city council can either appoint someone to the seat for rest of the term or hold a special election, which would cost about $100,000, according to the city clerk.

But if Ward 1 residents collect 1,220 signatures, the city has to hold a special election. The requirement is that they gather signatures from 25 percent of Ward 1 residents who voted in the 2010 general election.

Ward 1 mainly lies southeast of California Avenue and South H Street.

Dean is planning to run for the Ward 1 seat himself and ran unsuccessfully against Salas in 2010. He said he is coordinating petitions calling for a special election but not advocating for any particular candidate, including himself. Dean said he knows of 12 different teams of people who are gathering signatures, and they are focusing on churches, going door-to-door or starting with their neighbors. Dean said at least 550 signatures have been gathered so far, and perhaps as many as 750.

Only Ward 1 voters can sign the petition, but anyone can help circulate petitions. The deadline to get enough valid signatures is Jan. 2.