It was a clear, perfect day at the perfect man-made oval known as Pinewood Lake. Hazel-gray ducks cut across the water in threes and a daring squirrel darted straight up the trunk of the substantial cottonwood at water’s edge. Jacquie Sullivan served apple juice on the back patio in tall, slender glasses, behaving more like a cocktail party hostess than a politician meeting the press for the first time.

It was June 1995, and Sullivan had just defeated three men, including the appointed incumbent, to win her first election. She seemed entirely too nice to plan on making a habit of it. Others would make that same miscalculation over the next quarter-century.

Exactly 25 years and four generations of amphibious fowl later, the cottonwood tree is larger, Jacquie Sullivan has switched to iced coffee, and she is no longer the city-council newbie but rather its senior member. In fact, she is the longest serving city council member in Bakersfield history.

But now, she declares on the patio of the home she has owned for 41 years in southwest Bakersfield’s gated Pinewood Lake tract, seven elections is enough. When she relinquishes the Ward 6 seat at the far-right end of the dais in December, she will be 81, and she will have retired undefeated.

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