HANFORD — Before voters head to the polls in the November 2018 general election, the voters in Hanford’s District D will vote in a special election to decide if they want to recall Hanford City Council incumbent Francisco Ramirez.
In August 2017, a group of Hanford residents gathered enough petition signatures from registered voters in Ramirez’s district to warrant holding a recall election.
The election will cost the city $30,000 and will ask voters only two questions: whether they want Ramirez to be recalled and who they would want to replace Ramirez if he were to be recalled.
If the first question passes with 50 percent plus one, then the replacement candidate with the highest number of votes would win the council seat and be sworn in after the results are certified.
The election will take place Jan. 23 with four candidates vying to replace Ramirez: Shelli Barker, Lou Martinez, Paula Massey and Diane Sharp.
Shelli Barker – community volunteer
Barker said she is running for the seat because she has not seen good representation in District D in the past and wants the community to get involved with attending more meetings and having their voices heard.
She said she considers city council the highest level of community service and thinks members have lost their perspective of what city council is supposed to do. She said the seat is not a political stepping-stone for her and is ready to dedicate herself and her time if elected.
“I’m just running for that simple reason,” Barker said. “No smoke and mirrors. I’m a regular citizen who will listen to people and serve Hanford.”
Barker, who just finished nursing school, said she has lived in Hanford for over 30 years and resided in District D for 25 years. This is her first time running for Council, but said she is known in Hanford for volunteering in youth programs and other various programs.
Lou Martinez – retired
Martinez, who had served on the Council before from 2010-2014 and was mayor in 2013, said he is running again because he believes the Council needs more accountability and community input.
He said he feels the community is being left out of decisions that the Council makes and members have forgotten who they are serving. If he were to be elected, he said he would be there to serve only the community and make sure to include them in all decisions.
“I think it’s important for a council member to represent the community, not promote themselves,” Martinez said.
Martinez was born and raised in Hanford and moved to Los Angeles to attend college before settling back in Hanford in 1993. He said he raised his boys here, all while living in the same south-Hanford home that he grew up in.
Paula Massey – community volunteer
Massey said she is running for the council seat because she wants to change the one-way conversations of council meetings into a community effort with more engagement.
Massey said she is a community-minded person and said she knows that more things get done when people all work together on a common goal.
Massey said she has lived in Kings County since 1983 and lived in the south-side of Hanford since 1989. She is big on volunteering and has worked with Women of Vision Unlimited since 2007 to help youth struggling with their education.
“My hope is to make sure our community knows what’s available to them and bring more education,” Massey said.
Diane Sharp – real estate investor and business owner
Sharp said the catalyst for her decision to run for city council was learning that the city had not provided salary information of its employees to the Transparent California website. She said transparency is an important issue to her.
She said she believes the government works for its citizens and the community always has a right to know what is going on in their cities. She said she previously served on a school board and believes her experience and background can be beneficial for City Council.
“Leadership is really important and our downtown is super important,” Sharp said.
Sharp was born and raised in Hanford and said although she has lived in different areas throughout her life, Hanford has been her favorite place. She said she wants to nurture a sense of civic pride and bring the community together.
Francisco Ramirez – incumbent
Attempts to reach out to Ramirez were not returned before deadline, but he previously told the Sentinel he would fight “tooth and nail” to keep the City Council seat he’s held since 2014 and would continue to “move Hanford forward and fight the corruption.”