BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The two candidates running for Bakersfield mayor faced off at the first mayoral forum held Monday evening at the Kern Agricultural Pavilion. Karen Goh and Kyle Carter are engaged in a run-off race against each other as a result of the primary election held in June which drew as many as 25 candidates.
On some issues, they have common views. But there is a definite difference in their public presentations and the way they respond to questions. The first question was straight forward: Why do you want to be mayor?
“I want to be mayor because I believe in the great people of our community,” said Goh in robust fashion.
Carter’s response was delivered in a more deliberate, slower tone. “Bakersfield has been very very good to me and I feel blessed to be a part of the community,” said Carter.
Goh is currently the president and CEO of Garden Pathways, a community-based nonprofit group that mentors children, youth, and adults. In December 2010, Goh was appointed by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as Fifth District Supervisor of the County of Kern. She served to January 2013 before losing an election to Leticia Perez.
Carter is a retired homebuilder and businessman and co-founder of the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame. He serves on several community boards.
Asked if the best location to place a High Speed Rail station in Bakersfield would be F Street, both candidates declined to answer the question directly. Both said they would defer to the experts.
Goh and Carter also played up their business experience. Carter said he has a proven track record with tangible results starting 20 businesses in 41 years. Goh said she has a wide range of business experience running a Fortune 500 company in New York before returning to Bakersfield and becoming involved in various community projects.
“Why do we need someone who has worked in a narrow field?” asked Goh, referring to Carter. “The depth and breath of experience I bring is really what’s necessary.”
Carter responded by saying, “I think that I’m better suited than my opponent.” He added, “I’ve started 20 businesses in my last 41 years.”
Both said they favor the current structure of city government where the day to day city operations are handled by a city manager and professional staff.
In a closing statement, Goh made a reference to a line used in the movie, “Ghostbusters.”
Goh said, “If you want a mayor with depth and experience in business, who are you going to call? If you want a mayor with vision of practical plans who are you going to call?” Carter’s response to that was, “Well, I would call me.”