Bakersfield · Politics

Long-time Bakersfield Councilwoman to retire, opening door for election battle

Bakersfield’s longest-serving city councilmember announced last week that she will not run for reelection in November. 

Jacquie Sullivan has served on the City Council representing Ward 6, covering parts of southwest Bakersfield, for 25 years.

“I am proud of the years I served alongside some wonderful council members and mayors to help direct the city services that Bakersfield needs and to help the city thrive,” said Sullivan in a statement. 

“I believe we all have contributed to the community that many envy for the great neighborhoods and commercial venues along with a lower cost of living, especially for residential homes. I trust in the years to come that we will continue to have the reputation of providing a safe place and secure place for people to raise their family as well as retire.” 

Part of Sullivan’s legacy is tied to the motto “In God We Trust.” In 2002, she led the City Council to display the motto in the council chambers at City Hall. 

Two years later, Sullivan started the organization In God We Trust-America, Inc., which is a nonprofit that encourages elected officials in cities and counties across the nation to publicly display the motto. 

Sullivan also currently is the chair of the Community Services Committee, and she serves on the Legislative and Litigation Committee, the advisory board for the Salvation Army and the board for the Bakersfield AIDS Project. 

Her work with AIDS education stems from her daughter Joyce who passed away from the disease in 1993. 

Joyce’s death also spurred Sullivan’s interest in public service. According to a report from KGET, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy – who was serving as the top aide to Congressman Bill Thomas in the 1990s – called Sullivan and encouraged her to run for city council. 

Before that call, Sullivan was dealing with depression after the loss of her daughter. 

“This was God’s gift to me, because it really, really saved my life,” Sullivan told KGET. “Because I wasn’t going anyplace.” 

So far two individuals have announced their candidacy to replace Sullivan: Patty Gray and Gregory Tatum. 

Gray has owned local remodeling company DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen with her husband for the past 17 years.

She also serves as a board member for the Better Business Bureau and Youth For Christ. 

“My business experience started in my dad’s sporting goods store at a young age and has continued while managing our contracting business since 1983,” Gray told KGET. “I’ve hired and worked with many skilled workers including office managers, salespeople and tradespeople. I know the challenges of small business and the responsibility of protecting our families’ jobs. 

“Our city needs to get back to work, and I want to help build Bakersfield’s economy with more jobs and better paying jobs for our people.” 

Tatum is currently the pastor at Change Community Church in downtown Bakersfield. He unsuccessfully ran for mayor in the 2020 March Primary in which Mayor Karen Goh was reelected. 

Tatum is an Army veteran having served in the first gulf war. 

“I think it’s time for inclusion,” Tatum told KGET. “It’s time to see people of diversity, people of color come into politics especially in Kern County. I want to be able to defend the voiceless, the people that can’t speak, the homeless, the veterans that lost their way. I want to be that voice.”

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.