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Friday, May 31 2013 09:29 AM

'First Look': Ward 1 candidate Rivera pitches run

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    Willie Rivera, a candidate for the Ward 1 Bakersfield City Council seat, talks about his goals on "First Look with Scott Cox."

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As Willie Rivera campaigns for the Ward 1 Bakersfield City Council seat, two issues keep emerging: The people seek greater infrastructure investment, and they want to feel safe in their community.

"Government is oftentimes way too complicated," Rivera said Friday during an appearance on "First Look with Scott Cox."

The 22-year-old candidate said he wants to be accessible -- already, he said, thousands of residents have his cell phone number and call him about problems.

The infrastructure investment residents seek includes everything from curbs and gutters to parks.

"They'd like to see more investment in their neighborhoods," Rivera said.

Residents are also concerned about public safety, everything from their relationships with police to having an officer respond when they report a motorist speeding at 45 mph in a neighborhood where children are trying to play.

"Right now, the sentiment is people don't feel safe," Rivera said.

The candidate said he already has a Day 1 list if elected. But follow-up is important too, so he's collected phone numbers, he said, to check to see if things are done. He sees it as his job to respond to every call, email and text and connect people with what they need.

He hopes to break down the disconnect some people feel with their government.

Yet, he said, "there is only so much one person can do," so he hopes people will alert him to issues they see in the ward.

None of the other areas of the city are as economically depressed as Ward 1, Rivera said. It has the greatest need, he said; sometimes he thinks the roads on the other side of Highway 99 might as well be paved in gold compared to how the roads are in Ward 1 in southeast Bakersfield.

The election to fill the seat left open when Rudy Salas moved to the state Assembly is Tuesday.

"It's been a great campaign. We've been talking to a lot of people," Rivera said.


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