Former nonprofit CEO Louis Gill has announced he will run as a Democrat for Congress against Rep. Kevin McCarthy.
Gill is a Springville native who went to school in Springville, Citrus South Tule and is a Porterville High graduate.
In an email announcement on Tuesday, Gill, who served as the CEO of Bethany Services Inc., which operates the Bakersfield Homeless Center and the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault, said he will run for California’s 23rd congressional seat to address many of the issues he witnessed as a nonprofit leader.
"This is my home," he said in an interview with The Californian. "I saw it being poorly served. I spent a lot of time considering what was the right next step, and for the last 21 years, I’ve had an incredible privilege of being able to serve our community and to fight for families to make sure they are cared for. I could see that there was a greater good to be served."
Gill served as Bethany Services CEO for 21 years, overseeing the nonprofit's transformation from an organization with a $1 million budget and 15 employees to one with a $16 million budget and 200 employees.
As homelessness in Kern County has increased, Bethany Services' role in addressing the issue has also grown. The Homeless Center and alliance manage 240 beds, along with permanent housing placement programs and clinical care.
Gill announced his resignation from the position in August of this year, saying he felt it was time for a change. On his campaign website, Gill lists jobs, health care and fixing the broken immigration system as his top priorities.
"In each of those areas, I saw that families and individuals lives were complicated because there was not a solution — and often because of federal legislation — there was no solution for them or it was limited," he said.
Two other Democrats — actor Bruno Amato and teacher Marisa Wood — have previously announced their intention to run for CA-23.
All candidates face a difficult challenge in McCarthy.
The current representative has held the district since 2013, winning elections every two years by double digits, often earning nearly twice as many votes as his challengers. He's one of the top-ranking Republicans in Congress, currently serving as the House Minority Leader in the House of Representatives.
In the 2020 election cycle, he raised around $27.8 million, according to OpenSecrets, a government transparency nonprofit that tracks campaign finances. It was the second highest amount raised by any member of the House of Representatives.
Still, McCarthy's campaign countered the narrative he had lost touch with his hometown. Campaign Manager Liz Neuman said McCarthy would always prioritize his neighbors, even when the Biden administration and "socialists" in Congress tried to reverse common-sense solutions.
“Kevin has a strong record fighting for and getting results on the issues that matter most to our communities," Neuman wrote in an email to The Californian. "Whether it is passing bipartisan water reform, supporting local energy jobs that have helped make American energy independent, or ensuring federal action to address Valley Fever, Kevin will never stop fighting for our shared values."
But Gill sees McCarthy as politically vulnerable, in part because he voted in January to reject the Electoral College votes for Pennsylvania and Arizona that secured the election for President Joe Biden. The vote occurred after the Capitol was stormed by supporters of President Donald Trump, delaying the initial vote.
"That, I know for myself, was incredibly disturbing and I have had many, many people recount that to me as something that they cannot forget," Gill said. He later added he hoped to work with people across the aisle to accomplish his policy goals. "I think we are all very tired of the politics that keeps decrying, 'because you are part of something that’s different from me, you’re my enemy.'"