Calling the accusations against him as “silly,” Bakersfield City Council candidate Bruce Freeman laid out what he’d like to accomplish if he were elected to the vacant Ward 5 seat during an interview Wednesday on “The Richard Beene Show.”
Freeman has been accused by Ward 5 competitor Ryan Nance of “carpetbagging” and committing voter fraud, because Freeman owns a home in Newport Beach. Freeman, however, disputes those assertions and says he’s called Bakersfield home for more than 17 years.
“I thought it was a silly accusation to begin with,” Freeman said of the “carpetbagging” allegation. “I hope to have a chance, now that I’m retired, to contribute.”
In what appears to be a three-man race with Freeman, Nance and Noel Pineo, the rhetoric has already been heated on who will replace the late Jeff Tkac for the Ward 5 seat. During the interview a caller asked Freeman if he would be moving to Bakersfield permanently.
“Bakersfield is my home,” said Freeman, adding that he has no intention of selling his home in Newport Beach. “I love my home here. I plan on keeping it here.”
Freeman’s business acumen helped him lead Castle and Cooke’s development of west Bakersfield in the 1990s and 2000s. A former president of the development company, Freeman helped build some of the city’s most prosperous communities, and at the same time served on numerous non-profit boards and charitable organizations.
However, the challenges that the city of Bakersfield faces are different from his business dealings, including pensions.
“We have a really spiraling obligation with public employee pensions,” Freeman said. “We don’t have the money really to meet those without some creative new ideas.”
Those ideas, at least from Freeman’s point of view, is all about growth.
“We have to grow,” he said. “We have to find creative ways to reduce our costs, and maintain our level of service. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last 21 years is running a company with budgets the size of the city.”