BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Bakersfield City Council ends one chapter and begins the other, as two members step down from their seats, and two members are sworn in.
Wednesday night, Jackie Sullivan and Willie Rivera both leaving their wards, both making history in the aspect that Sullivan served the longest of any council member and Rivera joined as the youngest less than a decade ago.
2013, that's the year Willie Rivera became the youngest elected city council member in Bakersfield history, and now, seven years later, Rivera is moving on but not before reflecting on his time.
“One of the biggest things I wanted to tackle was making sure there were sidewalks and curbs and gutters in neighborhoods that never had them, and I think I'm most proud of spending time over the course of my time with the council working on those issues for the people I represented.”
In Wednesday night’s meeting, Eric Arias, a 24-year-old Kern County native, was sworn in as the new representative for Ward 1 replacing Rivera.
“It is the honor of my lifetime to serve my city as the first Filipino councilman here in the city of Bakersfield. Although it brings me great excitement to be taking on such an important role, it goes without saying this job will certainly come with its challenges. As we all know, our community is in deep crisis,” said Arias.
Also being sworn in Wednesday, but unable to attend due to an illness, was Patty Gray for Ward 6, replacing longtime council member Jacquie Sullivan, who received a tribute from Congressman Kevin McCarthy.
Sullivan considers one of her biggest accomplishments working to display the motto "In God, We Trust" in the chambers at City Hall. This led her to start a nonprofit called In God We Trust Inc. Sullivan has also been very involved in AIDs education after the passing of her daughter in 1993.
Sullivan says her next steps during retirement will be to continue to work on her nonprofit. As for Rivera, he plans to focus on the next chapter of his life, which includes getting married to his fiance.