The filing deadline for the Ward 5 seat on the Bakersfield City Council is 10 days away but potential candidates are already sharpening their knives.

Ryan Nance, who came in third in November’s general election for the seat, is questioning prospective candidate Bruce Freeman’s residency in Ward 5.

“Though we admire the work Mr. Freeman has done in this community, we find it unfortunate, and dishonest, that Mr. Freeman — who is registered to vote in Newport Beach at his ocean-front property, pays taxes there, and has his business registered to that address — now wants a seat in Bakersfield,” Nance’s campaign said this week in a statement.

Freeman, the retired president of the Mainland division of Castle & Cooke Inc., said he indeed has a home on Lido Island in the Newport Beach harbor, but it's a weekend beach getaway and he has never left his home in Bakersfield.

“I own a home down there. I have been able to get there about one day a month for the last two years,” he said.

He’d like to visit more, he said, but he is very busy in Bakersfield doing work for the boards of community organizations.

Nance’s campaign said it doesn’t look like Freeman has been around much from the public documents.

“What he is engaged in doing is worse than political carpet-bagging. He is essentially attempting to swindle Bakersfield voters into believing that he has always remained in Bakersfield. In fact, he prefers Southern California over Bakersfield,” Nance’s team stated. “If this is not the case, then Mr. Freeman would be living in Bakersfield, paying his taxes in Bakersfield, running his business in Bakersfield, and voting in Bakersfield.”

The raw data seem to show that Freeman, indeed, left Bakersfield two years ago after his retirement.

In 2015, according to the Kern County Elections Division, Freeman terminated his voter registration in Kern County.

And the California Secretary of State’s office online database shows that Freeman’s Newport Beach property is the registered address for his Pinnacle Advisory Services Inc.

But Freeman said those official records were just business moves that do not, in reality, reflect where he’s lived for the past two years.

“I only moved voter registration down for mortgage tax purposes and when I found out that was wrong, I moved it back,” he said.

According to Kern County Elections, both Freeman and his wife did, indeed, re-register in Bakersfield’s Ward 5 on Feb. 3.

That move, Freeman said, took place before people urged him to run for the Ward 5 seat, which was left open when Councilman Jeff Tkac died from a self-inflicted gunshot in January.

As for his business, Freeman said, he registered it out of the Newport Beach home because he hoped the Orange County location would provide him an additional pool of clients for his real estate consulting work.

The phone for the company, he said, comes back to his 661-area-code cell phone.

Voter registration is a critical part of establishing the qualifications to run for certain elected offices, including council.

According to the Bakersfield city clerk’s campaign packet for the Ward 5 race, “a person is not eligible to hold office as a city councilmember unless he or she is a registered voter and resides within the ward boundaries of the office being sought at the time the nomination paper is issued to the candidate. The candidate must live within the ward boundaries throughout the entire term of office.”

The nomination period for the Ward 5 race opened on Feb. 13, 10 days after Freeman formally re-registered to vote in Bakersfield.

Currently, there is one certified candidate for the Ward 5 seat; stay-at-home father Noel Pineo.

Nance, Freeman and businessman Larry Koman have all pulled nomination papers but have not yet returned them and had them certified.

A fifth potential candidate, Ty Hudgens, has dropped out of the race, according to the Bakersfield City Clerk’s office.

The deadline to file and return nomination papers is March 10.

(7) comments

Serenity

Since this article has been written, a lot of embarrassing screen captures have come out on social media about Freeman's truthfulness on this matter. I think one of the most disturbing is the screen capture of Freeman's FB profile showing that he listed his current residence as Newport Beach. He has since changed that to Bakersfield now that he's running for City Council. Maybe, he was just trying to lie to the IRS in order to get a mortgage deduction, but, it kind of seems like he preferred to be associated with Newport Beach. And, I get that. But, do I want that kind of guy on the Bakersfield City Council?

pzachary

I responded to this article on Mr. Nance's page . I think his accusations are a stretch of what the truth really is here. It's evident to me that Mr. Freeman has a proven record of developing and planning for the City of Bakersfield while serving as President of Castle and Cooke. I trust that he will have the continued best interest of Bakersfield if he is successful in the city council race for Ward 5. Mr. Nance , however, is not as forthcoming in why he wishes to be the Councilman for Ward 5. I believe he has a conflict of interest, as he is the President of a Large Union here in Kern County. I stated that comment on Mr. Nances page and he promptly accused me of endorsing Voter Fraud after he deleted my comments. I guess he didn't want anyone questioning what his true agenda is. Is he planning on using this Council seat as a stepping stone to climb to higher office, or does he have the wellbeing of the Constituents of Ward 5 As his top priority. I don't believe Mr. Nance is as qualified to hold this office as he thinks he is. I for one will Not be Voting for him , and I have lived in Ward 5 for 40 years!

Serenity

It's a little problematic for me that Nance is the President of a labor union, but very problematic that Bruce is a liar. You can find all sorts of evidence online that he spent much of his time in Newport Beach, yet, here he says "one day a month." Why did he change his Facebook profile to indicate he lives in Newport Beach then? Was he ashamed to admit he lives in Bakersfield?

Serenity

You mention the voter fraud issue, but you don't address it, again. That makes it sound like you are just a shill for Freeman. Let's address it. Do you think Bruce Freeman should be prosecuted if he registered to vote in Newport Beach and voted in Newport Beach while knowingly residing in Bakersfield? That's voter fraud, right? Would you be angry if a bunch of liberals from Los Angeles bussed people here to register and vote on Kern County ballots even though they were residents of Los Angeles? I'm really shocked you don't see the issue here!

Stephen

While I know little about the candidates in a ward I don't live in, one thing that concerns me are people, living out side the area who treat Bakersfield as their ATM by opposing sound planning and development policies for the sake of maximum profits. These are people who don't have to live with the fallout from bad planning, poorly maintained properties and that sort of thing as they collect their profits and rents to finance their lifestyle in the high rent coast.

Serenity

I've personally overheard Bruce Freeman tell someone that he spends most of his time in Newport Beach these days. Now I read a quote from him telling the newspaper that he only spends "one day a month" there.

What's odd is that it's pretty clear he's lying -- at least in part -- to the newspaper, but he doesn't need to. His residency issue isn't that big a deal. He's legal simply by re-registering in the ward and establishing his residence there. Lying about it is a larger issue. Yet, he still feels the need to claim the following:

** He claims that he re-registered to vote in Bakersfield before people had urged him to run for City Council, but his name was being bandied about around town before he re-registered on February 3rd. I'd be shocked if he hadn't been in contact with Mark Abernathy before February 3rd. I mean, does he really expect anyone to believe that it's coincidence that he re-registered just days before the filing period for City Council opened? The newspaper should ask Mark Abernathy directly whether he had contacted Freeman about a run before February 3rd.

** He claims that the real reason for his voter registration change to his home address in Newport Beach is that he was essentially lying to avoid proper payment of taxes and he just figured out that this is wrong. Seriously? The guy has an MBA from Stanford. The question is whether he was lying then or lying now?

** He claims that his 959 business office number redirects to his cell phone in Bakersfield at 661. That's probably true now that Nance has pointed out the problem, but I've tried to call him after hours at one of the numbers for Pinnacle Consulting listed online and the phone simply keeps ringing and ringing. I thought most cell phone carriers shot you to a voice mail account or said "This users voicemail box is not setup, yet" or something like that. But, even if I'm wrong about that, what kind of businessman hasn't setup voicemail on their cell phone?

I've heard Bruce serves on the CSU Bakersfield Foundation Board and consults on a very part time basis with the SBDC. Neither of those things are incompatible with living in Newport Beach much of the time, but they do demonstrate ongoing connections with Bakersfield. Why not just admit it and move on? It would be find for him to say, "I'm not from Bakersfield, but I spent almost two decades working for David Murdoch in Bakersfield and during that time we developed some iconic Ward 5 properties. I like Newport Beach, but my heart is really in Bakersfield and that's why I feel called to move back to Bakersfield so I can give back to Bakersfield." What's troubling is playing fast and loose with the truth. We don't need more of that in politics. In fact, we need a lot less.

The Californian should read Bruce Freeman's Form 700s closely and not only report what is included, but also investigate what should have been included, but what was not. I have no knowledge that he left anything off his Form 700s, of course, but we're seeing a bit of a pattern here. In the last article about Freeman in the newspaper he bragged that he's lived in Bakersfield for decades and believes it's a better place to live than the southland when, apparently, he may have actually bought a house in the southland and moved to Newport Beach for at least part of his time and re-registerd to vote there. It doesn't take a away from Freeman's ivy league resume, personal wealth, and football heroics, but it should give the newspaper cause to investigate further.

AmericanMike

Well, I see Mr. Freeman most every week right here in Bako for the last two years so I guess Mr. Nance is the dishonest one.

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