A person-on-the-street poll of Shafter residents on their quality of life highlighted the weaknesses of random questioning.
A survey presented to Shafter City Council earlier this month by a graduate class at Cal State Bakersfield asked residents questions about the quality of life in the city,and their neighborhoods. It also asked about the quality of the public services in the city, such as the police, fire and emergency services.
The survey was highly favorable, with quality rated good and excellent in all categories.
But the surveyors noted that although the numbers showed that residents considered their quality of life in the good and excellent range, at a combined 73%, it was noted that this percentage was down six percentage points from a similar survey conducted in 2021.
Last week, a Shafter Press reporter conducted an informal poll on residents in the streets of Shafter, asking them some of the same questions asked by the pollsters.
Among the 40 residents talked to in the downtown area, 75% thought that their quality of life was either good or excellent, with 34% saying excellent and 41% saying that they consider their quality of life in the good range. Twenty percent of those polled said they thought their quality of life was average and 5% said it was below average.
They overwhelmingly answered positively to the service of the Shafter Police Department, with 84% saying that they consider the service good or excellent. As for the roads and maintenance of the city, overall, the city did well in this category, with 79% of those asked thinking that the state of the roads are good or excellent.
Just a couple of those polled were willing to speak on the record for publication. Of those, Liliana Rodriguez and Debra Martinez said that they consider their quality of life good. They also said that they really didn't put too much faith in polls. "It really depends on who you talk to. If you don't talk to everyone in town, you really are just taking a small sample of the people living here," said Rodriguez.
Frank Valencia, who said that his quality of life was in the excellent category, said, "I think that Shafter is a great place to live. I used to live in Modesto, and it was just crazy up there. I feel a lot safer here and the people are very nice."
With so many of the residents that we talked to, they echoed the sentiment about the reliability of polls and surveys. "I don't mind speaking my mind, but some people might not want to say anything, especially if it is something negative against the city."
The followup poll showed it was a challenge to get residents to take part in a survey or poll, to get residents to voice their opinions. This is evident by the numbers of the study done by Cal State Bakersfield. In a city of over 20,000 people, there were only 342 residents who responded to the on-line survey, 1.8% of Shafter's population.