County supervisor, political newcomer face off in 35th Assembly race | News

Both candidates competing in California’s 35th Assembly District agree that the newly drawn district represents an opportunity to make good things happen in Sacramento for communities in Kern County.

Every 10 years, the state changes its political boundaries to reflect new census data. And this time around, Democrat Rudy Salas’ 32nd District will leave Kings County and Hanford behind, focusing on the district – named the 35th – in northwestern Kern County, with a “teardrop” shape reaching into east Bakersfield.

The district also includes Lamont, Arvin, Shafter, Wasco, McFarland, Delano and Lost Hills. It is 61 percent Latino, the fourth-highest concentration of Latinos in any Assembly district in California, and it has a high Democratic voter registration advantage.

In November, Bakersfield family doctor Jasmeet Bains, 35, announced she would run in the district as a Democrat centered on a health care platform.

In January, veteran county Supervisor Leticia Perez, 45, also a Democrat, threw her hat in the ring for the 35th.

Salas is not seeking reelection at the state level, but is campaigning for Congress. He endorsed Perez’s candidacy.

The primary election is scheduled for June 7, but the results will be anticlimactic. No matter which way the votes go next month, both candidates’ names will be on the midterm ballot on Nov. 8 – and voters will have to do it all over again.

“This district is the most exciting opportunity to hit the restart button for Kern County,” said Perez,

She spoke of her pride in Kern, its history as California’s top oil producer and the state’s No. 1 producer of renewable energy – and all the scientific and technical expertise that comes with that history

“Now we will become the carbon managers of the globe,” she said, noting that Kern is poised to become a leader in the capture and underground storage of carbon dioxide pollution, an emerging new industry that could become the county’s next big job creator.

A third-generation resident, Perez graduated from Highland High and attended local public schools. She earned a bachelor’s degree from UC Santa Barbara in “law and society” and earned a law degree in Indiana.

She grew up alongside a dozen foster children in a family dedicated to community service, she said in a bio sent to The Californian. Following her parents’ example, Perez became active in political and social issues, as well as philanthropic efforts from a young age.

She returned from law school in 2006, gravitating toward community service and representing indigent clients while volunteering on boards of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and New Life Recovery Training Center. She was selected by her peers as the first female president of the Kern County Bar Association’s Criminal Defense Section.

After a period of time serving as chair of the Kern County Planning Commission, she became the consultant for the California State Senate Committee on Economic Development and the State Permitting Process.

She spoke fondly Friday of her time with the Planning Commission. It was a period, she said, that gave her invaluable experience in learning how government and the private sector work together, experience, she said, that will help her as a state legislator.

The east Bakersfield resident was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to the Board of State and Community Corrections and made history by serving as the first Latina president of the California State Association of Counties.

“We need our industry to prosper,” she said of the county’s economic strength. “They need to be positive and confident in their representatives in Sacramento.”

She has always had to navigate between the interests of the oil industry, the governor’s office and environmental justice advocates to find a balance that benefits her constituents.

Perez reached a court settlement in January 2020 regarding two misdemeanor conflict-of-interest charges related to her role as supervisor – charges which were ultimately dismissed in January 2021.

Perez reached an agreement with the Kern County District Attorney’s Office that called for the charges to be dismissed if Perez met certain criteria.

The alleged conflict conflict of interest arose between her role as supervisor and the California marijuana industry, according to previous reporting in The Californian. The first allegation against Perez said she “did make, participate in making or attempt to use her official position to influence a governmental decision in which she knew or had reason to know she had a financial interest.”

Hers was the lone vote in opposition to a measure that would ban commercial cannabis sales in Kern. Her husband, Fernando Jara, operated a firm that consulted on marijuana policy for clients.

The second allegation stated in April 2017 she failed to file a disclosure of “her investments, interests in real property, and income during the period of 2016.”

Perez paid $ 30,000 in penalties, plus a $ 4,000 administrative fine to the Fair Political Practices Commission as part of the settlement. She declined to comment, noting she has said all she will say on the topic.

Perez has won all three of her elections to the Board of Supervisors with majority votes in the primary cycle.

Dr. Jasmeet Bains, 35, of Bakersfield, describes herself as “a family doctor who has been working to provide primary health care to families throughout our valley and a champion for children, fighting to improve health outcomes for vulnerable communities while increasing opportunities for all who call.” our valley home. “

Bains says she is running for state Assembly in hopes of making an even bigger difference.

Asked if she is taking a leave of absence from her practice to campaign, Bains said no way.

“When you see the patients in our community who desperately need access to quality health care – and as a doctor, I see them every day – you make the time.”

The daughter of immigrant parents, Bains grew up in the valley, she said in her written bio. She watched her father build a business, starting as an auto mechanic and ultimately owning successful car dealerships.

After college, she worked in the family business before pursuing a career in medicine.

“I am deeply committed to supporting our local valley businesses so they can thrive while creating good paying jobs that provide a living wage, retirement security and healthcare coverage, which I believe is key to enhancing public health in the valley,” she said.

After graduating from medical school in 2013, Bains returned home and completed her residency at Clinica Sierra Vista in Kern County.

She chose to work in underserved health care settings, she said, because increasing access to health care for the underserved is central to her mission.

Today, she serves as medical director at Bakersfield Recovery Services, overseeing substance abuse, addiction and mental health rehabilitation.

“When the pandemic hit, I was on the front lines,” Bains said, “establishing field hospital sites to treat COVID patients.”

Bains said she was shocked by what she saw: the US health care system’s failure to provide basic medical necessities in a national emergency. But it only spurred her mission to improve access to quality health care.

“I have spearheaded landmark mental health and addiction treatment programs,” she said, “so that everyone gets the care they deserve.”

While this is her first time running for office, and improving access to quality health care is central to her mission, Bains is interested in working on a wide range of issues.

She serves on the Board of the Global Family, a nonprofit dedicated to stopping human trafficking and childhood abuse. In 2017, she was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to the California Healthcare Workforce Policy Commission.

Bains has received a number of awards for community service, including a 2022 Certificate of Appreciation from Task Force Ax 203, for her work with Cal Fire, the California National Guard and the US Army during fire support operations; the 2021 Beautiful Bakersfield Award in the Health Category from the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce; and a 2019 Hero of Family Medicine from the California Academy of Family Physicians, among others.

Bains said she believes someone with her background can bring a unique and much-needed perspective to the elected office.

“It’s crucial,” she said, “that we get a private-care doctor elected to office right now.”

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