Election 2024: Delano councilwoman makes four in Fourth District supervisor race

Sep. 18—The 2024 race for the Kern County Board of Supervisors' Fourth District now has a crowd upon the announcement Monday that Delano Councilwoman Veronica Vasquez is throwing in her proverbial hat.

"I am honored and thrilled to announce my candidacy for Supervisor District 4," Vasquez wrote in a press release. "Robust leadership and accountability are essential in these challenging economic times."

The announcement makes Vasquez the fourth candidate to join a 2024 race that includes fellow Delano council member and Vice Mayor Salvador Solorio-Ruiz, Wasco Vice Mayor Alex Garcia and incumbent Supervisor David Couch of Bakersfield.

With a seat on the Delano City Council and Kern Council of Governments, Vasquez said she would bring to the county dais a comprehensive career built as a denominator between the innards of Kern government and the public she hopes to represent.

"I have a different perspective, working throughout the county positions I've had," Vasquez said.

Vasquez has worked 15 years as a county caseworker and was the former president of the local Service Employees International Union 521 for which she is a current shop steward. If nothing else, Vasquez said she understands the heuristics of county government, from the abstractions of budgets to the impact that funding or cuts have on human life.

"Our district needs a supervisor that has a deep understanding of the vital services our county provides," Vasquez said.

"As a social worker in this community, I have seen those services in action and recognize the diverse needs in our community firsthand," Vasquez wrote. "We have the opportunity to ensure that our county leadership more accurately reflects the demographics of our entire county. "

In a phone interview with The Californian, Vasquez said her decision to run came earlier this year. Her priorities include water, housing and mental health — issues she became abreast of, she said, while negotiating county contracts, working in child protective services and during her three-year tenure on the Delano City Council.

"In working with rural communities, I've had the opportunity to see what resources are available and what resources aren't available," Vasquez said. "And I can already refer people to how they can start obtaining resources in a way that other candidates are probably just not familiar with."

When asked what separates her from the crowd, Vasquez fell back on her background: a fifth-generation Delano native, with "deep roots within the United Farm Workers Movement and a champion for rural communities."

Solorio-Ruiz said Monday that he would not comment on the announcement. Garcia and Couch did not respond to immediate requests for comment.

Solorio-Ruiz, who sits on the Delano City Council alongside Vasquez, made his announcement in August. While together on the council, the two have often sparred over localized issues, including rent control.

"One of the biggest issues we are faced with is the misunderstanding of what the actual needs are in our rural communities," Vasquez said. "While our county has done a remarkable job to meet some of those needs, there is a lot more to be done."

Kern's Fourth District touches 10 cities including portions of Bakersfield and the agricultural communities of Delano, Arvin, Lamont and Shafter, among others.

Candidates may officially file for candidacy starting Nov. 13, while the election will take place March 5.