BAKERSFIELD, California now has its first Filipino American councilmember.
Eric Arias, a 24-year-old who was born and raised in the Kern County city, was elected to its council to represent Ward I during the special general election on November 3.
Arias, a Democrat, received 76.22% of the vote (4,118 votes) versus his opponent, Gilberto De La Torre who received 23.78% (1,285 votes) in the race to replace outgoing councilmember Willie Rivera in the middle of his term.
“It is with immense gratitude that I declare victory in my race for Bakersfield City Council Ward 1 as the first Filipino ever elected to the Council,” Arias wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday, November 5.
“This was a community-driven campaign that was driven by local youth leaders, labor unions, Democratic organizations and residents.”
The millennial Fil-Am seeks to bring a younger perspective to the local government. His ward, or representative district, covers much of Southeast Bakersfield.
Arias aspired to follow in his father’s footsteps and serve in the U.S. Marine Corp, but was diagnosed with stage 4 Burkitt’s Lymphoma during his second year of college at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He went into remission and chose a career in public service, according to his campaign website.
He currently serves as a field representative for state Assemblymember Rudy Salas.
Bakersfield, the 11th largest city in California, has a population of 383,579 as of 2018. Residents of Asian descent make up about 7% of the population.
“I look forward to working on behalf of residents in Ward 1 and the City of Bakersfield to #BuildBackBetter in a more equitable and just way for all,” Arias said. (AJPress)