The race for the Ward 5 seat on the Bakersfield City Council could get very crowded, very fast.

The nomination period for the June 6 special election to replace Councilman Jeff Tkac, who died last month, opened this week. Five people have already pulled papers.

Bruce Freeman, Ryan Nance, Noel Pineo, Ty Hudgens and Larry Koman pulled nomination papers in the past two days.

Pineo, a stay-at-home dad, and Koman, a businessman, said they’ve committed to run.

Freeman, the retired top local executive at land developer Castle & Cooke, said he’s in as well.

Hudgens, an Army veteran who is new to Bakersfield, according to his Facebook page, did not answer a call to the phone number listed on city filing documents.

Carpenter and trade union leader Ryan Nance, who came in third in the November election behind Tkac and ousted Councilman Harold Hanson, announced he would run again weeks ago.

Hanson has said he, also, is considering a run. But he has not made up his mind.

Here is a little more information about the new faces in the race:

  • Freeman is the former chief executive officer of land developer Castle & Cooke. He said he is running because he wants to make sure Ward 5 — and the city as a whole — remain a great place to live, do business and work.

“I’m going to run,” Freeman said.

Freeman said he was content with Tkac’s election but, after Tkac died, he didn’t hear of many good replacements.

“I didn’t really see, at least from the grapevine, any candidates who would protect the ward that I built half of,” Freeman said. “You’ve got to have a community people want to live in. People in the fifth ward like their ward and really want to keep it that way.”

Freeman said he believes he can maintain the current level of quality in the community, help build a better job environment and protect Cal State Bakersfield, the university where he has been a leader and board member for many years.

He said he has 33 years of experience running major companies and his work as a land developer gave him an intimate understanding of how government operates.

And that, he hopes, will help him get things done.

“I’m not looking for any higher political office. I’m not a politician. I’m doing it because I’ve been here since 1993 and Bakersfield is a nicer place to live than any community in L.A.,” Freeman said.

  • Pineo is asking people who hope to support him financially to, instead, donate to the Bakersfield Homeless Center and ask two Ward 5 residents to vote for him.

He called the idea that people will raise and spend $100,000 to win a largely volunteer gig that pays $100 a week a “mockery of the democratic process.”

He said he fully intends to put his name on the ballot.

“This is a real candidacy. This is a volunteerism job. This is a job that in other cities people get paid $40,000 to $50,000 a year to do. What you’re signing on is four years like the Peace Corps — 40 hours a week of hard work,” Pineo said.

He’s up for that work and is passionate about a number of issues where he hopes to make a difference, including the city budget.

“We have a budget of around $200 million a year. About $60 million of that is going for pensions. We are heading into a death spiral,” he said.

  • Koman is a former home developer, businessman and insurance adjuster who said he will be running as well.

“We are definitely, 100 percent, in,” he said.

The former member of the city’s redevelopment agency board said that experience will stand him in good stead as a council member.

“I have a lot of experience working with the city administration. I’ve lived in the ward for a long time, 20-something years,” Koman said.

He said he considered running for the council before but chose to support Tkac.

“I was pretty impressed by Jeff and the energy he had,” Koman said. “His passing left a void in the ward. I feel like I’m the person to fill that void.”

He’s a small business owner and believes that he can help businesses succeed and hire new workers into good-paying jobs.

And the only other candidate to go public before this did not impress him.

“I don’t think the city of Bakersfield and especially Ward 5 is best served by a union organizer,” Koman said.

He said he hopes to be a supportive voice for law enforcement.

The release of medium security prisoners from state prisons has created a serious problem, Koman said. The former criminals can’t get jobs so they end up back on the street doing more crime, he said.

He hopes to give police the additional resources required to help thwart some of that crime.

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