BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - It is hard to believe the Ward 5 city council election has already seen name calling, attack videos, and the district attorney's office weighing in on accusations of voter fraud and tax fraud.
But as early mail-in voting has already begun, a look at the three candidates hoping to fill the vacant Bakersfield City Council seat.
First there's retired Castle & Cooke president, Bruce Freeman. Freeman believes Bakersfield's economy needs stimulation after what he calls the "oil recession" and he says his experience in real estate development can help.
"Our taxes are way down, we get them from property taxes and sales taxes. Sales taxes are down 7 million a year over two years. The only way we're going to solve this problem is to grow our city with more economic activity, which means we have to encourage businesses anyway we can," said Freeman.
Next there's Ryan Nance, a vocational instructor and president of Carpenters Local 743. Nance came in third for this same seat last year. He has run an aggressive campaign against Freeman, and hopes to focus on infrastructure if elected.
"We have a lot of the wealthy retired businessmen types on our council and that's one thing that I would bring to the council. I'm bringing fresh blood, I'm bringing youth, I'm bringing a construction background with construction expertise. That's what I'm good at," said the third generation carpenter.
And finally there is stay-at-home dad, Noel Pineo, who got into this race initially to fix the roads in Bakersfield, and thinks the campaign spending by his opponents is outrageous.
"Potholes, they don't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican. Potholes don't care if you drive an expensive Mercedes or an old Toyota, they will ruin your car, they don't care," Pineo explained to 17 News.
Freeman's campaign says it's raised about $140,000, and top donors include McDivitt Development, Barbara Marshall of Grimmway Farms, and JCFA Ranch.
Nance's campaign says it's raised about $130,000 and top donors include SW Regional Council of Carptenters Political Action Fund, California Teamsters and Bakersfield Police Officers Association PAC.
Pineo from the start has encouraged all who might donate to his campaign to instead donate to the Bakersfield homeless center.
Here you can view the Campaign Contributions for Freeman and Nance through 5/17:
Remember you will only be able to participate in this special election if you live in the 5th Ward. You can use a sample ballot to request a vote-by-mail-ballot or find your local polling place for June 6th.
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