Not so fast, Grace. Not everyone in the ostensibly unified Fourth District is on board with your candidacy.

At least that's what we're hearing from a collection of Democratic voters from Delano, Wasco, Bakersfield and points in between about Delano Mayor Grace Vallejo, selected by a self-appointed nominating committee to take on Fourth District Supervisor David Couch in November.

Voters must pick one of them because last month a federal district court, citing violations of the Voting Rights Act, ordered Kern County to adjust its supervisorial boundaries. Couch's Fourth District was the most drastically altered: What was once a majority white Republican district is now a majority Latino Democratic district, and Couch, a Republican, must defend it two years earlier than scheduled. As in this November.

Among the most striking changes in the district: White Republican Taft is gone and Latino Democratic Delano is in. Hence, Vallejo's supposed attractiveness as a challenger to Couch.

That's undoubtedly why a group of local Democratic leaders — 17 Latinos and four Anglos — picked Vallejo in their own little nominating convention held in a private room at Bill Lee's restaurant April 12. 

Delano Councilman Joe Aguirre was prepared to publicly announce his candidacy that same day but instead withdrew, apparently conceding that too many challengers, Latino or otherwise, would fatally fray the vote and hand the seat back to the incumbent Couch.

But now Vallejo is getting some pushback.

Julie Solis, an advocate for valley fever awareness and community activist, says she has concerns about the Delano mayor's candidacy and the manner in which she was selected. 

Bernice Bonillas, a longtime local Democratic Party activist, is concerned as well.

"I'm from Delano and when that came out (about Vallejo's candidacy) in the newspaper, I got so many calls from people asking why," Bonillas said. "And I said 'I don't know. I wasn't invited to the meeting.' It was just a very negative reaction."

They're both anxious to participate in a community meeting Wednesday night in Delano to talk about it. She and others are hosting what they're calling a Fourth District Town Hall from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Delano Civic Center, 1009 11th Ave., Delano.

But Yolanda Chacon Serna, one of the organizers, says the purpose of the Delano meeting is not to choose an alternative to Vallejo.

"To me, the main objective is we want the community to be organized, to know what their issues are," Serna said. "We have been without representation for so long. The (federal district court) judge said the last election was illegal because it violated the Voting Rights Act. ... But not everyone is aware of what just happened. They're working in the fields, they're working in the offices, they're getting their kids ready for school. They're not all like you and me; they might not read the newspaper."

And Chacon Serna is determined to bring them all up to speed.

The meeting is hosted by CLAD-K, or Community Leadership Alliance for Democracy-Kern, which Chacon Serna said was a new volunteer organization.

She said she had no on-the-record comment about the April 12 meeting of 21 people that drafted Vallejo, other than to say said she was not invited either.

"Whatever candidate it is we're supporting, one candidate, we want to talk to that candidate," she said. "We want that candidate to respond to the issues with concrete answers. Not promises but something they're going to commit to."

Chacon Serna noted that there's great hurry: The filing period is July 17 to Aug. 10. "If there does become another candidate, there's still time," she said. "But whether there is or not, that's not my decision to make."

Would Vallejo step aside? I tried without success  to reach her Tuesday. One thing seems certain: Two challengers —Latino or not — on the same ballot would surely hand the race to Couch.

Contact The Californian’s Robert Price at 661-395-7399, rprice@bakersfield.com or on Twitter: @stubblebuzz. His column appears on Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays; the views expressed are his own.

(4) comments

BakoMark

This is hilarious. The Wizards of Oz think they can appoint someone to hit the yellow brick road? The nieviety of this whole thing is laughable. Only an academic could think this up.

Ed

Is it any different than any other race ?? Scratch my back and ill scratch yours....

REMUDA

Ah yes, gerrymandering is alive and 'well(?)" in Kern County and California . . . !

JSmith

Have no fear Delores Huerta and her attorney will get these trouble makers in line!

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