We have a race.

Four candidates have stepped up and filed papers to run for a vacant seat in Bakersfield City School District’s Area 3, which spans central and downtown Bakersfield.

The seat was left vacant by Raymond Gonzales, who retired abruptly over health concerns last April.

His successor will be either Vicky Lynn Billington, a day care provider; Ralph Anthony, an assistant pastor; Rupert Gregorio, a financial adviser and businessman; or Edgar Aguilasocho, a public interest attorney, according to Kern County Elections Division filings.

Aguilasocho and Gregorio both filed Friday, with at least one filling out paperwork just moments before the 4:30 p.m. deadline, elections workers said.

Two weeks ago, there were no candidates at all. Gonzales, a Democrat, began making calls in search of candidates. Meanwhile, Kern High School District trustee Mike Williams put out a call on his Facebook page for “a good conservative” to run for the seat.

Now the seat, which Gonzales won uncontested in 2016, has a crowded field of contenders.

Whoever wins the April 10 special election will represent an impoverished area with challenging schools, including Stella Hills, McKinley and Emerson Middle.

The seat has been unrepresented for months as the board has been plagued by indecision over whether to appoint a replacement or hold a special election. When they attempted in July to appoint a candidate — five applied — board members stalemated after 16 rounds of voting, forcing them into a special election.

​Harold Pierce can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @RoldyPierce.

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