Candidates trade jabs in Bakersfield Ward 5 race

Posted at 5:48 PM, Mar 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-07 20:51:31-05

The Kern County District Attorney's Office is not investigating allegations of voter fraud in the Bakersfield City Council Ward 5 race, officials said Tuesday.

Candidate Ryan Nance made the allegations to the DA's Office on Monday, in an email obtained by 23ABC News. Nance accuses opponent Bruce Freeman of living in Newport Beach, not Bakersfield, and not being registered to vote in Kern County until just before he filed for Ward 5 candidacy.

"The only way for voters to have an accurate picture of who we are is by being truthful with them," Nance said in a statement. "In the case of Bruce Freeman, he made statements that are indicative of voter fraud."

The DA's Office told 23ABC on Tuesday that it's not looking into the issue at this point.

"That's not a surprise," Freeman said about Tuesday's development.

Freeman says he owns a home in Orange County, but doesn't spend much time there due to commitments to the community here in Kern County; he also says he has lived in Ward 5 for 23 years.

"These claims are baseless nonsense," Freeman told 23ABC over the phone. He said Nance is distracting voters from real issues, such as the challenges facing the City of Bakersfield.

RELATED: City of Bakersfield looking for candidates to run in Ward 5 special election

The Ward 5 seat was vacated after Councilman Jeff Tkac died in January.

So far, there are only three certified candidates in the race: Freeman, Nance, and Noel Pineo, according to the Bakersfield City Clerk.

Voters will head to the polls to elect a replacement on June 6 in a Special Municipal Election.