Bakersfield City Councilman Willie Rivera has submitted his letter of resignation, saying he intends to step down as soon as a replacement can be sworn in.
Elected in 2018 to his third term, Rivera’s seat was set to come up for election in 2022. In his resignation letter, Rivera said he hoped the city could avoid extraneous costs for finding his replacement by adding the vote for his seat to November’s election.
“My service on the council started in 2013 and I was 22 years old. I’m 29 now. I’ll be 30 later this year. I think it’s been an incredible experience. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve been able to do things that a lot of people don’t get to do and be engaged and be a part of conversations that a lot of folks don’t ever get to participate in,” Rivera said in a phone interview. “That’s been a lot of fun for me. That’s been a great experience.”
A new job with Aera Energy pushed Rivera to resign. While he said the new position didn't require him to step down, he felt Ward 1 would be better served by somebody with a fresh perspective, who could devote more time and energy to the role.
Friday was Rivera’s last day at California Independent Petroleum Association, where he worked as vice president of regulatory affairs. His new position at Aera also is in regulatory affairs, and also based in Bakersfield.
“I’ve never been interested in making a life of politics or public services,” he said. “This is a great opportunity that I’m very excited about and I’m not going anywhere, I’ll still be right here.”
Rivera’s Ward 1 encompassed the economically challenged southeast part of Bakersfield. He said he looked back fondly on the moments during his political career when he could help bring tangible benefits to the residents he served. He said he and the other council members who represented the area had worked to make steady improvements, a tradition he hoped would continue after he left.
The youngest person ever elected to the council, Rivera credited his public service to his experiences in Bakersfield after a childhood in Puerto Rico. He moved to the Bakersfield area in 2000, and said he always has been thankful for the opportunities available to him in his new home.
“I always tried to view my service on the council as my good faith effort to show my thanks for everything this city has done for me,” he said.
The letter echoed his positive sentiment.
“I love this city with all my heart,” he wrote, “and can’t wait to see it continue to prosper in the years ahead.”