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By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

City Council candidates discuss goals, outlook


Last updated 10/25/2020 at 7:03pm | View PDF

Come November, there will be a couple of races in the local election that will help shape the city of Shafter.

There are three City Council seats up for grabs with six candidates vying for those slots. Chad Givens, Manuel Garcia, and Gilbert Alvarado, who are currently serving the remainder of their terms, will be running against newcomers Kris Lawrence, Rafael Zamudio and Pete Espinoza.

All of the candidates say they would like to help the city realize its potential.

“Shafter is one of the safest towns around, and it is due to the great job that our Police Department does on a daily basis,” commented Garcia. “We also have seen a great improvement in the appearance of the downtown and business areas due to Michael James and the Public Works team.”

Garcia said that he would like to see Shafter attract more big businesses. To do this, Garcia said that the city might be able to give potential businesses incentives to choose Shafter for their destination.

Zamudio disagreed, saying he doesn’t necessarily think that Shafter should grow too big.

“I think it is important for us to maintain our downtown area, but I believe that we can do this while still keeping our small town atmosphere and infrastructure,” he said.

Zamudio also thinks that the current council has lost touch with the community and needs to connect with the residents and understand their priorities and needs.

“I think that there is a lack of interest in our current leadership to the core needs of our community and poor communication with its citizens,” he said.

Espinoza is a lifelong resident of Shafter and is proud of its rich history and tradition.

“I believe in the city’s potential for future development,” he said. “I would be proud to represent and serve our community.”

To foster economic growth, Espinoza said that he would like to support small and big business endeavors by illustrating Shafter’s strong and stable infrastructure.

“Shafter is a great place for business because of our opportunity for growth, our safe environment, and our business friendly community,” he said.

Lawrence works at the water district with policymakers and has extensive experience dealing with situations in a board meeting setting.

Lawrence said that with the tumultuous times we live in, safety and economic security are extremely important.

“Shafter has historically been a very safe town, and it has done well with businesses,” he said. “This is something that I would like to be a part of continuing into the future.”

Lawrence is a resident of the Gossamer Grove community and also believes that it is important for that area to be represented on the council.

Givens, who is a home-grown Shafter man, said that he believes in this city, the people, the businesses, the employees, the families, everything.

“Though we are a small rural community, we have a big vision, a big heart and a lot of big opportunities,” he said.

He said that given the chance, he would continue to fight for public services, such as our “top-rated police department, phenomenal city services and our one-of-a-kind education partnership group.”

He said that Shafter is unique in its partnership with the educational staff, offering higher education opportunities as well as AP and reading programs.

“This is very unique to the city as almost all cities across California do not have this available to their residents. We in Shafter have this available to all Shafter residents,” he said.

He is excited for the next four years and for what is to come.

“I don’t want to see any of these services hindered for these next four years and hope that you agree,” he said.

Alvarado was unable to be reached for comment. Alvarado was elected in 2008 and has served the last two years as Shafter’s mayor. In past interviews, Alvarado has stated that a top priority for Shafter is the enrichment of its youth and the importance of giving our children the opportunities needed to help them grow physically as well as socially. Alvarado has been a proponent of giving the youth of Shafter adequate sports facilities as well as educational opportunities.


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