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Chris Lee 

Audrey McKinney recalibrates her blood sugar monitoring system with a finger prick every 12 hours so her Medtronic MiniMed insulin pump can properly regulate her insulin doses.

Hanford City Council
Meet the District D candidates

Voters in Hanford City Council District D have a special recall election coming up.

They must first decide whether they wish to recall incumbent Francisco Ramirez. If they do, then they have to decide who they would rather have represent them: Shelli Barker, Paula Massey, Lou Martinez or Diane Sharp.

The election, which includes a polling station and mail-in ballots, is Jan. 23.


I have been married to my husband for 25 years. Mother of four children who were born and raised here; as well as six grandchildren also born and raised here. Owner and director of an activities center with focus on latchkey and special needs kids. I have volunteered in Hanford and around Kings County for 30 years, including youth sports programs; teen counselor; rehabilitation services; 24-hour suicide crisis support for KCAO; domestic violence advocate; sexual assault response team; and most recently, mental health certification with focus on veterans’ needs, leading to my volunteer work with veterans organizations. Last month, I graduated from nursing school, which I intend to use in order to help more veterans in need of quality care.

Contact: 530-6344 or by email at

Why are you running for office?

I am running for office due to all my past and present participation in many organizations at the "ground level”, and running for City Council is another form; only this position is at the highest level of community service. I feel that with the variety of service to our community that I have provided (throughout Kings County, as well as in my professional life), that these experiences have prepared me and I am more than capable of taking on the job of being your District D representative. I love Hanford and the people who live here. I am hoping to perhaps bring increased stability and balance to the dais. A cohesive, dependable council is always a successful one, and my belief is that Hanford residents are craving a more solid team.

How are you different than other candidates?

I know the core value and meaning of “service to community." My listening and speaking skills are well honed (i.e. working as a counselor for decades). It is the responsibility and job of local officials to possess the ability and maintain effective conversations and collaborate with members of the public about the kind of community they envision for themselves and their children. As a community leader, I am aware of how tiresome it can be; yet when my work results in successes, also becomes the most rewarding job. To know I am responsible for positive results at the end of the day is what drives me to continually contribute my time. Furthermore, I believe I possess the ability to remove "self," in order to make fair/just decisions. This includes, never forgetting that we are elected by the people, which translates to trust. That is both paramount and profound to me and at the top of my priorities list because no relationship works without it.

What is the biggest issue in your race and how will you solve this issue?

My biggest issue is the lack of transparency in local government. I have witnessed, on more than one occasion, decisions being made without the public's knowledge. My hope is to give more power and decision-making back to the community. Communications between the citizens and local government needs improvement. Only then can we begin to build trust and provide our City with a higher sense of security. I feel as if all sight has been lost in regards to the importance of synergy. And we must begin forging steady relations immediately. Once these improvements are made, accomplishments in Hanford are limitless.

Why should voters select you?

Voters should elect me because, again, I simply love Hanford. I am a citizen who has given a voice to many who could not find their own. I am hard working and very approachable. Being a liaison and building bridges where I see gaps is a vital part of who I am. I genuinely love this town and the people in it. I've always had the ability to give plenty of thought and consideration before decision making. In addition, I've demonstrated the ability to hold productive conversations with all current council members, therefore, I'm confident in working with all of them as a collective. The truth is, I am a citizen, like all of you, who just wants the very best for Hanford.


I was born and raised in Hanford. [I] graduated from Hanford High in 1964, then left home to attend Cal-State in Los Angeles. After serving time in the Army, I remained in the Los Angeles area until 1993. I returned to Hanford and raised my family here while working for Kings Community Action Organization. I retired from KCAO in September of 2016.

Contact: 589-3774

Why are you running for office?

I have decided to run for office because District D needs honest and ethical representation. District D needs improved communication between the community and City Hall. We need a council member who is interested in improving our community, not our own self-image.

How are you different than other candidates?

I have served on the council and have the experience needed to serve the needs of our community. I will reach out to the residents and ask for their input when making public policy decisions. All of the candidates want to improve our community by including their opinions.

What is the biggest issue in your race and how will you solve this issue?

I believe that the biggest issue in this election is trust and transparency. We lack communication between residents of Hanford and city leaders. We need to work together to make our community safer and improve city services for all of the residents of Hanford. Residents of Hanford need to be included when making decisions of City Hall.

Why should voters select you?

I will work hard to find ways to improve our police services and make our school crossings safer. I will advocate to streamline the permit process in order to make Hanford more business friendly. I will work with businesses to find solutions on how to improve and revitalize our downtown.

I believe that any of the four candidates seeking the council seat is a much better option than our current representative.


I have been busy working in the communities in Hanford for the past 20 plus years. After receiving an Associate of Science Degree in Child Development from the College of Sequoias in 1994, I attended Mt. Carmel Theological Seminary in 2003-2005. I received a Bachelor of Theology Degree and an Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree. I have been past President of the Optimist Club, Founder of Women with Visions Unlimited, Inc., introduced Women’s History Month to Hanford and presented achievement awards to various women in the community for the past five years.

I created a cultural awareness class called, “The Genius School”. I was a tutor, home day care/pre-school provider. I was founder and teacher of the Christian Learning Center in Lemoore and principal of the Hanford Christian Center. After seeing the need for more literacy work in reading, I started the Mobile Literacy Program that travels to local low-income housing apartments and work with students who are not reading at their grade level. I founded a summer school program that started in 2010, along with Saturday art camp for youth. I am a member of the Kings County Black History Committee. I served four years and continue to serve as an adviser for the Black Student Union at Hanford West and I was the former president of the local NAACP Branch 1039.

Why are you running for office?

Contrary to the opinion of many of my friends, I am not insane. I recognize the importance of having a voice in local government. Several years ago the speaker of the house in congress Tip O’Neal said, “All politics is local”. Over the years of being involved in my community, I became more conscious of just how true his statement is. Elected officials have a platform by which they can be heard and respected when it comes to developing policy as a collective body. What is said at the mic in a three minute presentation at a council meeting can be magnified to influence policy when stated by someone who is elected to sit on the dais. I believe my experience and passion for those who feel that they have not been heard over the years will position me to be a strong uniting voice for council District D.

How are you different from other candidates?

The uniqueness of my background as an educator, youth adviser, small business owner as well as creator of a nonprofit organization working throughout Kings County for more than 20 years, has given me the insight to build relationships with others who have common interests and truly care about our community. But, my strongest asset is to meet with local residents on an on-going basis. My opponents wish to work closely with the city council but did not express an aggressive plan to meet and communicate with residents.

What is the biggest issue in your race and how will you solve this issue?

As it is in most neighborhoods of people who feel isolated and disenfranchised, one primary issue is engaging the community in the process of how policy is made by government officials that govern our daily lives. For years we’ve heard our neighbors say “my vote doesn’t matter anyway”. I have enjoyed a life of being able to connect with people and to energize their ability to look at their surroundings with a renewed sense of believing in themselves again and the real possibility that things can change. My approach to dealing with issues as they arrive is to recognize that though I am elected by the people, I am their voice and I will always maintain that attitude.

Why should voters select you?

I would hope that voters would select me based on my commitment as a servant and my willingness to take on tough challenges. I would also hope that they would appreciate my promise to be open and honest, even when it may not be what they want to hear. At the end of the day, a servant is only as strong as the resident he or she represents. When we unite, we become an even stronger voice for the people.


I was born and raised in Hanford by my stepmother. I attended Roosevelt Elementary, John F. Kennedy for junior high and graduated from Hanford West High School. I have obtained over 87 different certifications in different fields. I have been in the consulting business for over 14 years and specialize in areas such as website and graphic design, leadership, customer service training and social media marketing.

Apart from work, I enjoy being involved with my community. Throughout my life, I have kept myself active with my community, where I have joined and volunteered in many organizations. In November 2014, I was elected to my first term on the Hanford City Council. I represent the citizens of District D. Soon after in 2015, I was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley board of directors and re-appointed the following year. In 2016, I was voted vice mayor. In addition to my regular work, I have always had a particular passion for motivational speaking. I’ve had the opportunity to do public speaking for more than 6,000 people. As a result, I have created The Invisible Kid anti-bullying seminars for kids.


Why did you run for office?

I ran for office to make changes, such as more activities for youth, for our veterans and for our seniors. I want to make people who are corrupted accountable, and I’m doing just that.

How are you different from other candidates?

I am the realest person you’ll ever see in a political position. I’m not beholden by any developers, the Good Ole Boys Club or any special interest. That’s why they want me out of office.

What is the biggest issue in your race and how will you solve this issue?

In the three years I have been in office, we have solved most of the problems. One of them is the highest job creations ever in the history of Hanford. Costco’s here, Faraday Future is here, and still much more to come. We have a new facility for a police department. Crime is lower in these past three years. We’re building a new fire station. The only thing I have left I want to get done is to build a state-of-the-art recreational facility.

Why should voters vote no on the recall?

The reason why they should vote no is what they’re [recall proponents] saying are half-truths. The only reason they’re trying to recall me is because I’m not bought and paid for and I never will be. If the citizens want to find out the truth with the proof, they can visit They want to fire the city manager and I won’t let that happen as long as I’m in office. He’s doing a wonderful job! Staff morale is at an all-time high. The past people in charge of this city have been protecting special interest; that is the only reason they are trying to recall me.


I am a Hanford ‘boomeranger’ — was born and raised here, moved away and have come back.

Stops along the way included Stanford University; Washington, D.C.; Silicon Valley; San Francisco and Harris Ranch. I moved to downtown Hanford two years ago from Fresno County, having raised two children, co-found and helped run an ag-based brokerage and provided leadership to various educational, religious and governmental not-for-profits. I have raised more than $1 million for charity and am currently filling multiple roles at my District D-based church, First Presbyterian, including Awana Bible teacher, board secretary and choir member.

Contact: email at, phone/text at 905-0040, Facebook at “Sharp for Hanford City Council” and Hanford P.O. Box 1514 (zip 93232).

Why are you running for office?

Public policy and good government have long been strong interests, though competing for office as a political candidate is something new. (The last time I won an election in Hanford, I was voted “Girl Most Likely to Succeed” by my classmates in the Hanford High Class of 1981.)

I entered the City Council race because I have:

1. time and specific skills to offer the City,

2. solid relevant experience (School Board, Fair Board & First 5 Commission) and

3. loved Hanford my whole life.

How are you different from other candidates?

Critical skills and experience set me apart from my fellow candidates.

  • Stickler for transparency – Government is supposed to be FOR the people and BY the people. There is no room for personal agendas that sacrifice the public good.
  • Strong public relations know-how – I think City government must more effectively communicate with its constituencies and anticipate the wants and needs of the people. The City needs to be more mindful and responsive to its citizens.
  • Honed financial skills – I have built budgets, am able to understand complex public budgets and am not afraid to ask probing questions as necessary. The budget tells the story in numbers of the actions, goals, culture and aspirations of any entity. All council members should have a strong grasp of the budget and should demand that the City Manager make the numbers understandable to all.
  • Intellectual stamina – Smarts aren’t everything, but they come in handy in jobs that require extensive reading and comprehension. To hold City management accountable, City Council members need to know their stuff.

The best-run public entities appreciate the past (“good” and “bad” elements), operate openly in the present and have a strong vision for the future. That’s what I want for Hanford. I would bring experience and ability in organizational visioning to help the Council lead the City Manager to best execute the interests and wishes of our fellow citizens. Both the Republicans of Kings County and Libertarians of Kings County have endorsed [me] for City Council.

What is the biggest issue in your race and how will you solve this issue?

Trust in local government is the overarching issue facing Hanford today.

Ideally, a local government should be responsive to its citizens and seek to benefit them wherever possible. The Council should deliberately build trust with the public by insisting on it from the City Manager on down to the part-time recreation assistant. It can do this through respecting others, engaging stakeholders, sharing information broadly, communicating effectively and being totally transparent.

Why should voters select you?

A vote for Diane Sharp would bring fresh energy as well as a long-term outlook to the Council. My great-great grandfather moved here from Illinois in 1876. Three of my four grandparents graduated from Hanford High. The fourth one taught there. My parents graduated from Hanford High. My brothers and I graduated from Hanford High. My family has been involved in the community and in the business sector for multiple generations.

This longevity provides invaluable perspective on how past City Council decisions affect Hanford life today and how current decisions will affect our children, grandchildren and beyond. Serving on City Council is a huge responsibility. I am up to the task.

MLK march a 'positive response'

HANFORD — Dozens took to the streets in downtown Hanford Monday morning to march in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day or, as activist Buddy Jones put it, to respond to a positive call.

The crowd, which had gathered on the steps of the Civic Auditorium for the annual NAACP-led march, was urged by Jones to gather in closely “like family.”

“Family doesn’t stand at arm’s length,” Jones said before the 8 a.m. march.

After beginning the ceremony with a short African-drum performance, Jones explained that the drums were used to put out a call.

“If you put out a positive call, you’ll get a positive response.” Jones said to the crowd. “You are that response.”

He also stressed that the small crowd should celebrate those who were in attendance, rather than fret about those who weren’t.

Jones, an activist and artist, said that despite living in Visalia, he chose to march in King’s honor in Hanford.

“Why Hanford,” he said. “Because Hanford just started celebrating MLK Day [recently], so they need the most help.”

The first Martin Luther King Day celebration in Hanford was in 2007.

The day was not a holiday for Hanford city workers until that time when, under pressure from the community, the city caught up with the rest of nation, which adopted the holiday in 1986. The NAACP has been marching annually downtown since.

The day honors the birth of King, a Baptist minister who sought equality through non-violence. He was assassinated in 1968.

“We just want to pass on the legacy and get the word out to as many people as possible,” said NAACP Kings County Vice President Joseph Anderson.

Among the crowd, which was made up of people of different races, ages and ethnicities, could be seen signs with King’s photo and one that read, “All people are the same inside.” Flyers with the King quote, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” were passed out.

The march’s journey from the auditorium to Coe Park and back took about 30 minutes. During the march, activists chanted in English, “The people united cannot be divided,” and in Spanish.

The blue and red flashing lights from the police cruiser leading the way pierced through the cold morning’s heavy fog.

A pancake breakfast provided by the Hanford Breakfast Lions Club was served at the auditorium at 9 a.m., followed by the observance of King’s birthday at 10.

The ceremony featured speeches from NAACP Kings County President Dr. Gail Crooms and keynote speaker Marcia Rincon-Gallardo, founder and executive director of NOXTIN: Equal Justice for All, a group that seeks to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities of Latino youth in the juvenile justice system.

The observance also featured music and dancers.

Many people at the breakfast could be seen thanking Hanford Police Capt. Karl Anderson, who helped escort the marchers through the downtown area.

“Hopefully we’ll have hundreds next year,” Joseph Anderson said to Anderson during breakfast.

“We’ve got to start somewhere,” he replied. 

Contributed by Shelli Barker 

Shelli Barker