Lopsided contests are being waged in two Bakersfield Assembly races. Voters face clear choices in each.
Democratic 32nd District incumbent Rudy Salas is facing Republican challenger Manuel Ramirez, who squeaked into a spot as a last-minute, write-in candidate in the June primary. Salas, who served on the Bakersfield City Council before being elected to the Assembly, is a moderate Democrat who has well represented the interests of the region’s businesses and residents.
His challenger works as a gang violence prevention specialist at Ebony Counseling Center. Ramirez’s 2014 bid for a Bakersfield City Council seat was unsuccessful. His political experience also includes working on Republican Pedro Rios’ unsuccessful Assembly campaigns and Karen Goh’s unsuccessful campaign for Kern County Supervisor.
Clearly Salas is the stronger and better qualified candidate for the 32nd Assembly seat.
In the 34th Assembly District, Republican Vince Fong and Democrat Perrin Swanlund are competing to fill a vacancy created by termed-out Republican Assemblywoman Shannon Grove.
Fong is well prepared for the job of assemblyman. A Bakersfield native, Fong has worked in politics since 1999 when, as a UCLA freshman, he interned with former Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Bakersfield. Since 2006, Fong has worked for Thomas’ successor, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, as his district director.
Fong earned a bachelor’s degree from UCLA in political science and a master’s degree from Princeton University in public affairs.
In the June top-two primary, the 18-year-old Swanlund had just graduated from West High School when he won the nod to challenge Fong. Swanlund has never held an elected office – not even a student body office.
Fong clearly is the best choice for 34th Assembly District voters. But if his interest in politics continues and matures, we expect Swanlund to be a future contender.