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Dive into the mind of a City Councilman to find out why he loves to see our community grow and how he wants to encourage the next generation.

Andrae Gonzales • Bakersfield City Councilman, Ward Two

I’m a Bakersfield boy- born and raised here.  I went to school in East Bakersfield (Harding Elementary, Compton Jr. High, and East High).  Most of my family is from Kern County and still lives here. Even when I went off to college, my plan was always to come back home and apply what I learned in my community. One of the universities I attended was rich in diversity. I loved it! What I found interesting in college--what I learned about myself--is I’m fascinated by and more comfortable in a diverse setting. In a large and eclectic community opportunities bloom --opportunity to learn from others, to grow in respect for each other’s uniqueness, and to inspire one another.

Bakersfield is changing, and faster than what most realize.  Over the past decade, as our population has grown so has our diversity. From business opportunities to non-profit endeavors to the political scene, there are so many opportunities to engage in the community. We are so fortunate to benefit from one another this way.

Downtown Bakersfield continues to flourish and is getting better thanks to the vision and courage of a growing number of small business owners who risk their time, energy and money to make their businesses thrive. It’s exciting to see the organic growth in various pockets of downtown.  For instance, we now have 3 different ‘vegan-friendly’ eateries on a single street. G St. has Locale Farm to Table, Better Bowls and The Hens Roost. While these restaurants are not vegan-only, vegans now have many more options. And we non-vegan locals are also presented with many more locally-owned food choices.

We love seeing an establishment open its doors and thrive, especially when it’s opened by friends and family we know and love. People in this community support our ideas and dreams. In many other growing cities, downtown areas are made up of big chain restaurants and retail stores. Bakersfield is different. We want to see our best friend open the diner they always wanted or our neighbor invest in a cool boutique. And then we shop there.

But there’s another aspect of our city that I love. As we grow, we don’t want to forget where we’ve come from. We love our history. We love our agricultural roots that continue to help us thrive. And we love remembering what our city looked like decades ago, choosing projects like restoring the Padre Hotel--a nod to our past in a modern style.  

My hope for the future of Bakersfield is that we continue along this path. I hope we continue to support each other and inspire the next generation.

And I hope we encourage one another to be brave and to create. If we want to see something new and different in our city, then we must make it happen.

Be UNIQUE in Bakersfield.

Connect with Andrae: @andraegonzales

Click here to watch Andrae’s story firsthand

Be In Bakersfield