Bakersfield residents will see familiar faces in the upcoming election for mayor. Of the three candidates who have qualified, all have run before, with varying degrees of success.
Mayor Karen Goh will seek reelection. The former executive at a publishing firm and president and CEO of local nonprofit Garden Pathways hopes to be elected for the second time as the city’s most visible representative.
After being sworn in in 2017, Goh took over for longtime mayor Harvey L. Hall.
“I want to continue to embrace our community, increase opportunity for all, and encourage more good jobs with new and expanding businesses,” she said in an email to The Californian on Monday. “We face serious challenges that don’t stop at city or county lines, but with more hard work, our streets and neighborhoods will thrive.”
Although the only time a mayor votes during a council meeting is in the event of a tie vote, the position holds much symbolic power in the public.
The mayor’s official duty is to promote and increase the economic and industrial base of the city, according to the city charter. The mayor also serves as the official representative of the city at some state functions. In the city’s recent dealings over the homelessness crisis with the state, Goh has advocated for state resources, along with the mayors of the 13 most populous cities in California.
Two other individuals have thrown their hat into the ring in an attempt to secure the job.
Local Pastor Greg Tatum has qualified to run. He heads Change Community Church on Truxtun Avenue and said he wanted to run to try to change the mindset of the community, especially in deprived areas.
He previously lost to State Sen. Shannon Grove in 2018, and came in sixth out of 25 in the 2016 mayoral race in which Goh eventually emerged triumphant.
“I will be looking more at where we come from as a city to where we need to be going in the future,” he said, adding that homelessness would be his main campaign focus followed by drug use and sexually transmitted diseases. “My whole focus will be future endeavors.”
He said he saw space exploration as a potential future endeavor for the city, potentially an alternative to the two strongholds of oil and agriculture that have defined the area for generations.
Third candidate Joseph Caporali has also run for mayor in the past. The 88-year-old last ran for mayor in 2008, when he faced Hall.
He is the CEO of local production company Caporali Productions. Previous reporting on Caporali’s 2008 campaign detailed six Las Vegas marriages, two of which overlapped, and a claim that he accidentally shot himself.
Caporali declined to comment to The Californian on Monday, saying through an intermediary that his attorney had advised him not to make statements without the presence of legal counsel.
A fourth potential candidate, Mark Hudson, filed signatures to run for office, but did not meet the qualification standards. The filing period to qualify for mayor has closed.