Gregory Tatum looks to try and make Kern County History

Pastor Gregory Tatum (Courtesy Photo)

By Darlene L. Williams, Contributing Writer

BAKERSFIELD, Calif.—Could Bakersfield be months away from having its first African American mayor? If mayoral candidate, Gregory Tatum wins the race in March, the answer to that question is yes

Since the founding of Bakersfield in 1869, by Colonel Thomas Baker, there has never been an African American mayor in its 151-year history. Tatum is optimistic that he could be the first. Saturday, January 11, 2020, Tatum, along with 3 of his supporters, sat down with the Bakersfield News Observer (BNO) at Blaze Pizza on Ming Avenue, a for Q& A meeting.

Q: Who is Gregory Tatum?

A: I am an ordained minister and pastor of Changed Community Church. I’ve been in the city of Bakersfield since 2009. Basically, I’m an activist; I’ve been in activism for almost 30-years. I was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1959 and moved in 1960 to the worst parts of Chicago; the Cabrini Greens Projects. In 1970 we relocated to California, to a better environment conductive for young people to survive, and that was the city of Compton, California.

Q: (jokingly) Really? So, your family moved to Compton to survive? You can really say that you came “straight out of Compton, right?”

A: (laughing): Exactly!

After a few seconds of laughter, he becomes serious and seemed to be in a moment of bliss as he begins to briefly talk about his family

A: So, I met my high school sweet-heart Annette; we’ve been married for 42-years this year. We have 3 children; 2 sons, 1 daughter, and 9 grandchildren and eight of those grandchildren are boys.

Q : I noticed on your business card that you are a veteran; what branch did you serve in?

A: (proudly pointing to the emblem on his baseball cap): U.S. Army. I was stationed in West Germany in 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell. I served in the Persian Gulf under George H. Bush and I was part of the Patriot Missile Unit.

Q : You’re running for Mayor of Bakersfield, right?

A: Yes, for the second time. I also ran for the State Senate against Shannon Grove. Now, in 2016, when I ran for mayor, I placed number 6 out of 25 candidates with a budget war chest of $1500 for my whole campaign. Considering the top people in the race had so much more to work with, my rating was pretty good.

Q: What should a potential voter expect from you–should they decide to vote for you?

A: First of all, you can expect strong leadership, a person who is a visionary, and a person who will bring an entrepreneurial spirit to Bakersfield–engaging the youth in Bakersfield to fill in the gaps for future challenges such as: engineering, business, science, and animation. I would like to open an animation school for gaming as well as advanced computer technology.

Q: What are your views on the homeless crisis in Bakersfield?

A: The homeless crisis in Bakersfield is currently around 700 people on the streets. We need to be more proactive and not reactive. They (meaning Kern County) are being reactive right now.

Q: What would you do differently?

A: My proactive approach would be: to have a task force consisting of a mental aid department, psychiatrist, psychologist, law enforcement as well as other social programs. We want to encompass all the social needs of the homeless population by having the task force to do a complete intake on the 680 plus homeless populous to access immediate needs and long-term needs. What I mean, is some people are on the verge of becoming homeless, so preventative proactive is getting information and having a databank of the various trends of what causes homelessness. And not having affordable housing is one of the main reasons for the homeless crisis in Bakersfield.

Q: Who inspires you?

A: (Tatum) Historical figures: Dr. Martin Luther King, Fredrick Douglass, and Booker T. Washington.

Q: Do you have a quote or a proverb that resonates with you?

A: Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” When I say that Bakersfield is a city that can accomplish anything; I base that saying on this scripture. Seeing people reach their fullest God-given potential whether a banker, a school teacher, or athlete; we can accomplish anything.

“If I’m blessed to become the first African American mayor of Bakersfield it will not only be a historical win for Bakersfield, but it would bring immediate attention across the whole nation that Bakersfield is a city that’s becoming inclusive”, Tatum said.

*The Bakersfield News Observer does not endorse candidates; however, we encourage the community to vote on March 3, 2020 for the candidate of your choice.*