16th State Senate District race: Who is Leticia Perez?

A special election primary to fill Michael Rubio's vacated State Senate seat is less than three weeks away. 17 News will profile each of the candidates, starting with Leticia Perez.

BAKERSFIELD, CA - A special election primary to fill Michael Rubio's vacated State Senate seat is less than three weeks away. 17 News will profile each of the candidates, starting with Leticia Perez.

Perez is the Democratic nominee who never thought she would run for this seat this early, but now she wants your vote.

"As supervisors, we deal with these immensely complicated matters," said Perez.

On Monday, Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez spent lunch on a lighter note, speaking to students from Independence High School.

"Don't even be afraid to do exactly what your heart desires," Perez told the students.

Years ago, Perez was in their shoes, growing up in Bakersfield.

"My father had been a farmworker in Arvin, Lamont and all through the Central Valley, eventually settling in east Bakersfield," said Perez.

After graduating from Highland High School, Perez attended U.C. Santa Barbara. After college, Perez worked as a banker and then for political campaigns, eventually ending up in law school in the Midwest.

"I stayed there for three years," said Perez.

Moving back to Bakersfield in 2006, Perez then worked as a Kern County public defender and eventually took a job as an aide to State Senator Michael Rubio.

"I joined his staff and spent years inside of Senate District 16 all throughout the Central Valley," said Perez.

Two years later, Perez ran for supervisor and won. Then just a few months after taking office, Senator Rubio resigned and Perez decided to move to the next level.

"Running for this seat was the most agonizing decision of my life," said Perez.

But, with the opportunity to do more and the support of her husband and son, Perez is running with three goals in mind.

First, she wants to raise the minimum wage from $8 to $9.25 an hour. Second, she vows not to raise taxes, and third she set a goal to teach all children English.

"Without it, we cannot build a strong, safe community where everyone can have a little bit of prosperity," said Perez.

Perez is running against Fresno businesswoman Paulina Miranda, Tulare County business consultant Frank Ramirez, Independent candidate Mohammad Arif and the Republican nominee and former Congressional candidate Andy Vidak.

We will have profiles on all of those candidates leading up to the election.

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