HANFORD — Following a special meeting, the Hanford City Council has finished the first round of the selection process to fill an upcoming vacancy, narrowing the choices down to four candidates.

At the Thursday meeting, applicants Todd Cotta, Travis Paden, Amanda Saltray and Ruben Veliz were chosen to advance for the possibility of filling outgoing City Councilmember John Draxler’s seat.

The owner of Kings Gun Center in Hanford, Cotta rose to public attention in 2020, when he ran for the California State Assembly, ultimately losing to incumbent Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield). Thomas Paden, meanwhile, gained attention in 2011, as the co-founder of the “Bring In-N-Out to Hanford” Facebook page. The online campaign helped result in the opening of an In-N-Out franchise in the city.

At the meeting, Saltray was also asked about her experience in Hanford, having moved to the area seven years ago because of family.

“This is where we want to raise our children and this is where we want to see ourselves retiring,” Saltray said, explaining her reasons for applying. “And because of that, I want to pour my heart and soul into this town and see it thrive. And I already get involved in the community and this is just the next step.”

Draxler announced last month that he would be stepping down from the Hanford City Council, citing his health and the desire to spend more time with his family, but will remain in office for now. His term concludes at the end of 2022.

The four candidates will go through the next round of the selection process Thursday.

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