Meet the new mayor of Orange Cove

ORANGE COVE, California

Victor Lopez lost his eighth bid for mayor to Gabriel Jimenez. A former garbage collector in Orange Cove ... 54 to 46 percent.

50-year-old Gabriel Jimenez has no political experience, although he has spent his entire life in Orange Cove.

He started work as a garbage collector in the small farming community ... but is now the assistant plant operation supervisor at the Kingsburg Sanitation District. He says his decision to run for mayor of Orange Cove was a spiritual one.

Jimenez explains, "The lord put on my heart to run and as I was out knocking on doors, I would mention to people, I'm not running against Mayor Lopez, I'm running for the community."

Jimenez says Victor Lopez has done a lot of good for the poor in Orange Cove over the years ... but he believes recently Lopez has lost his focus.

The last year has been rocky for the long-time mayor. He's under investigation by the Fresno County Sheriff's Department for alleged threats against the Orange Cove police chief. In July the state announced it would withhold hundreds of dollars in grant monies because of irregularities with a newly built BMX bike park. But Lopez says he stands by his years of service.

"I believe it's a record to be looked at ... It's a record that's beautiful that nobody can be ashamed of and I think the citizens of Orange Cove have prospered with my administration," said Lopez.

The 67-year-old Lopez says he will always be involved in the life of Orange Cove and is willing to help out those who he describes as "the younger guys." As for Jimenez one of his top priorities is to create jobs.

Jimenez said, "Bringing in some sort of business to compliment the citrus industry whether it be Fruit Roll-Ups or some sort of candy or chewable candy made of citrus."

Jimenez says he will also work to sustain Orange Cove's newly formed police department ... and push to clean up and dress up the city's downtown.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.