Ward 7 reacts to Parlier’s decision on re-election
After eight years, two terms and countless calls from constituents, Bakersfield City Councilman Chris Parlier recently announced that he would not seek a third term.
For nearly a decade on the council bench, Parlier earned a reputation in District 7 for his willingness to respond to residents’ concerns, a quality that won praise from several speakers during Wednesday’s meeting when Parlier made his announcement.
“My life has been extremely blessed by God, and one of those privileges has been representing the city of Bakersfield and serving the District 7 constituents, as well as serving with this council,” Parlier said at Wednesday’s meeting. “But it has become clear to me that with my current health conditions, I will not be able to seek re-election.
“And I look forward to completing my term,” he said, later, in response to several public commenters expressing appreciation for him, adding, “So I love you too.”
Parlier counts a number of community improvements and citywide beautification efforts as accomplishments he’s most proud of, from the effort to bring more business to the city’s auto mall with decorative concrete vehicles parked throughout the area, to cleaning up areas like Jonah Garden.
The effort to turn the vacant Jonah Street lot into a community garden meant a lot to area residents like Gema Perez, director of the Greenfield Walking Group, who, through an interpreter, showered Parlier with praise for her work during the meeting. on Wednesday.
“For several years, he has supported our group, and when he supports our group, he supports the entire community,” Pérez said, “not just 50 or 60 people, but thousands of people.
“Schoolchildren… can walk safely. He not only does his job, he does it from the heart,” he said, adding that his group considers Parlier not only as a public servant but as a friend.
Parlier, an Air Force veteran and retired law enforcement officer with the state Department of Justice, said he saw his seat on the council as an extension of his public service and a way to give back, and that his goal was never to be a “climber,” or use it as a means to higher office.
Parlier said the most important part of the job for him was building relationships, which was a constant theme that came up when talking to those who worked closely with him.
Mo Hosseini, COO of H and B Auto, which is part of the auto mall in Ward 7, reiterated a common theme that emerged in talks over his two terms.
“He would always make sure that if we needed help from the police department, help from the city, even with the state, he would call people to make sure they could run their business,” Hosseini said of the car dealership group. , which added that it was also a close-knit community in the city, despite the competitive nature of sales. “He got rid of all obstacles for us. He really did a great job…he was very helpful to us.”
Perhaps one of his most memorable moves came more recently, towards the end of his career, which will have a significant impact for at least the next 10 years on Bakersfield politics.
During a lengthy and sometimes contentious redistricting process, Parlier was essentially the vote that helped the city’s Punjabi Sikh community, a group that has gradually grown in numbers mainly in the south end of Bakersfield, but in the past was divided into several districts. for the upcoming elections in the city’s newest neighborhood map.
While the move made sense to many, and Parlier has supported the community in the past, the move was not a foregone conclusion. Many thought the council would ultimately vote for an alternative map supported by Councilman Ken Weir.
Parlier said he had no plans to stay involved in politics after he steps down, which he hopes will be at the end of his term. But one thing became clear from speaking with several of his District 7 constituents: He built a number of relationships, and his absence from the dais will be felt by many.
Having a district that brought the ethnic group together on a so-called “unity map” meant a lot to many in that community, and several Sikhs have praised Parlier for their vote, including a former council candidate who previously ran against him.
“Nowadays, people tend not to trust politicians too much, and Chris never acted like a politician,” said Harmeet Dhindsa, a produce exporter who ran for the District 7 seat in 2014. The two became friends shortly after the election. “I feel like with Chris, his decisions were never based on politics, they were always based on community, and that’s what we needed to represent the neighborhood.”