BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Bakersfield City Council made history confirming the first African American woman to the Bakersfield Planning Commission.
The Bakersfield City Council approved three new appointments to the planning commission. One of those confirmed will be the first African American woman to serve Ward 1.
Candace Neal is an attorney, mother, active community member, and now one of Bakersfield’s planning commissioners.
“It’s really exciting for me, to be able to serve my community. This community I grew up with, all of the experience that I went out and got and brought back.”
Neal will serve the needs of the southeast Bakersfield community.
“We see a lot of development in that area for residential. All around there, schools are being built etc., but we don’t see a lot of commercial development, entertainment, grocery stores, those of that nature there. So, we want to try to attract developers here.”
Councilmember Eric Arias said the planning commission is the first stop a project makes for approval before it reaches the City Council.
He nominated Neal and said they will work together to bring projects that will increase the quality of life in Bakersfield.
“She has many, many years working in the legal system. Working on contracts, building contracts and she has a plethora of knowledge that is really going to serve her well and our city well on the Bakersfield planning commission.”
Neal will replace Commissioner Michael Bowers who is resigning.
New appointments were also made in replacement of Ward 2 Commissioner Daniel Cater and Ward 4 Commissioner Barbara Lomas.
ShePower Global Ambassador Arleana Waller said as an African American woman, Neal will be a voice for all people of color.
“She’s going to bring new ideas, she is going to stand in truth, she’s comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations and that is the only way change is going to happen.”
Neal said she is grateful and excited to get involved.
“What I would like from Eric Arias’ constituency is just to be supportive and understand that you have an advocate now on the City Planning Commission that is going to help bring to life all of the goals and visions and dreams for development. I have the heart and passion for it, and I have the experience and I cannot wait to get started.”