Bakersfield's youngest-ever city councilman plans to give up his seat next year, saying he's left his mark and that it's difficult to balance the work of a full-time job and a part-time elected post.

Ward 1's Willie Rivera, who is three years into his first four-year term, has decided not to run for re-election in 2018. At 26, he's the youngest city councilman in Bakersfield's history; he represents the southeast.

He has worked on projects that promote development — physically and economically — and public safety.

"I've never been interested in becoming an elected official and never letting go," Rivera said. "I've left my mark."

What is that mark?

"I'm not done being a City Council member," he replied, "so go ahead and ask me again next year."

Councilman Chris Parlier, whose Ward 7 neighbors Ward 1, said Rivera has a very "attentive style" and they've developed a good working relationship.

Parlier and Rivera are half the number of Bakersfield City Council members up for re-election next year; Ward 3 Councilman Ken Weir and Ward 4 Councilman Bob Smith also have terms ending November 2018.

Parlier said he plans to run for a second term.

"I thoroughly enjoy serving the people of Ward 7," he said.

Smith, who's served for six years, said he also plans to run for re-election.

"My feeling on that part is as long as I continue to make a positive contribution, I'll continue with my volunteer job," the northwest councilman said.

Come November 2018, Weir will have been a city councilman for 12 years. He hadn't expected the question of whether to run again next year.

"I'm sure I'll give it some thought later on," he said.

Meanwhile, Rivera said by announcing it a year and a half early, it gives Ward 1 residents more time to consider if they want to run.

It's a difficult decision, he said, plus a part-time city council means the representatives must balance council responsibilities with full-time jobs.

Rivera became director of regulatory affairs at California Independent Petroleum Association in March 2016, and his job requires him to travel. He previously worked in Sacramento for Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, and then-state Sen. Michael Rubio, D-Shafter.

"No question it's difficult for people who are younger making a career," Smith said.

But Rivera reminded people he still has 1-1/2 years left on his term.

"I'm not going anywhere anytime soon," he said.

Dorothy Mills-Gregg can be reached at 661-395-7368. Follow her on Twitter: @TBCCityBeat.

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