If big names are what attendees of next year’s Bakersfield Business Conference want, big names they will get.
Organizers have disclosed the identities of four more people who will speak at the Oct. 8 event. One is a former head of state, one a controversial law enforcement official, one a conservative commentator and one a Democrat.
The commentator is Ann Coulter, author of 10 New York Times best-sellers. A lightning rod for criticism from the American Left, she writes a syndicated column for United Press Syndicate and is a regular guest on various nationally televised talk shows.
“A couple of weeks ago, we teased our past attendees that the 2016 conference would feature an opportunity to see political debate from opposing viewpoints,” conference Communications Director Brandon Martin said in a news release. “Ann is going to play a big part in our fulfilling that promise.”
Vicente Fox, the former Mexican president whose 2000 electoral victory ended decades of one-party rule in that country, has also signed on to speak at the conference.
Fox was a Coca-Cola executive before becoming active in Mexico’s conservative National Action Party, known as PAN. After gaining national attention as governor of the state of Guanajuato, where he focused on issues affecting the agriculture and livestock industries, Fox unseated the long-serving Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) to become president of Mexico. He served in that position from 2000 to 2006.
“We like our speakers to have accomplished things that matter, and Vicente Fox changed the political landscape of his country forever in a way that will matter for generations to come,” Martin said.
The elected sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., Joseph Michael “Joe” Arpaio, has also agreed to speak at the conference.
Arpaio, often referred to as “America’s Tough Sheriff,” made a name for himself as a federal narcotics agent who infiltrated international drug organizations. Later, as sheriff, he moved prison inmates into a large tent city, established male chain gangs that perform free labor and put in place get-tough policies such as a ban on coffee and movies in all jails, as well as slashing inmate meal costs.
Not all his actions have been successful. An ardent opponent of illegal immigration, he has been found guilty of racial profiling and twice his jails were found to have violated the U.S. Constitution. Legal cases involving him or his office have cost Maricopa taxpayers more than $140 million.
“Not everyone will agree with Joe,“ conference organizer George F. Martin said in a news release. ”But some will take a look at some of this successes in Arizona and ask themselves, ’I wonder if that would work here?’”
The only Democrat on the list is former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Considered one of the nation’s most influential Latinos, and a possible contender to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown, Villaraigosa was majority leader and speaker of the California Assembly. Under his leadership in L.A., violent crime fell by half, and high school graduation rates grew from 48 percent to 64 percent.
”Regardless of what side of the aisle you prefer to sit on, it’s hard to deny that Mayor Villaraigosa has become an icon of California politics,“ the conference news release states.
In all, seven speakers have been named to the conference roster. The other three are basketball great Earvin ”Magic“ Johnson, actress Diane Keaton and former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz.
Event tickets can be purchased for $425 each at BakersfieldBusinessConference.com, or by calling 371-2202.