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Wasco City Council Votes To Remove Mayor; He Says It’s Retaliation

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In the small town of Wasco, north of Bakersfield, the city council voted this week 4 to 1 to remove Mayor Alex Garcia from his position because of a reckless driving charge. But the now former mayor says it had more to do with retaliation due to his desire to raise the rainbow flag at City Hall. 

Garcia says he wanted to raise the flag on June 15 to celebrate Pride Month but the city council voted against it. Garcia claims councilmembers were embarrassed about their decision after The Los Angeles Times, which had earlier profiled Garcia, reached out to them for a comment.

“When they called them, they had no comments, despite having plenty on the night of the June 15 meeting,” Garcia says. “And they had no accounts for their votes and rejection of the LGBT community in Wasco.”

But Councilmember Tilo Cortez says the vote to remove Garcia had nothing to do with Pride Month or the rainbow flag. He says he supports the LGBTQ community and he voted to remove Garcia because of a ‘wet reckless’ driving charge that Garcia pleaded no contest to last month. 

“As the honorary spokesperson for our city of Wasco, as mayor, I believe that he’s held, and we all are as councilmembers, held to a higher standard,” he says.  

Garcia is still on the city council. He says he’s looking forward to putting this behind him and working to serve the Wasco residents. 

Madi Bolanos covered immigration and underserved communities for KVPR from 2020-2022. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border.