State of the County is one of my favorite local events. It highlights Kern County’s best and allows the chair of the Board of Supervisors to address the challenges of the current year and cast vision for tomorrow. This year was no exception.
Last week, Board Chairman Mike Maggard recognized many accomplishments that Kern County is making towards its three strategic goals: enhancing the quality of life for all county residents; modeling excellence in managing its business and the employees who serve its residents; and fostering a culture of innovation so that working smarter, better and more inexpensively become a way of life.
In Animal Services, the department constructed an in-house facility for spay and neuter surgeries. Last year alone, this saved the county more than $250,000. Savings are on track to pay for the facility and then some by June 2018.
This year’s budget funds the second year of a Sheriff’s Academy to train new deputies, and construction is almost finished on a new criminal justice facility. It will provide inmates with mental health, education and job readiness programs that will better help them re-enter our communities.
It’s encouraging to see our Board of Supervisors team and County staff, led by a forward-thinking CAO, Ryan Alsop, endeavor to find new ways to serve the people of Kern County with excellence and efficiency.
Government actually working.
The State of the County event is refreshing because of its congeniality.
Unlike the president and governor, the chair of the Board of Supervisors is selected by his or her peers to serve a term of one year. Partisan and personality conflicts generally fade to protocol.
Rather than using State of the County as a platform to puff up oneself and pilfer your political opponents, there is a deliberate emphasis on what we achieve when we work together for all of Kern County.
This year, there was an attempt to hijack the congeniality.
The Americans for Safe Neighborhoods PAC saw this otherwise celebratory occasion as an opportunity to broadcast a link to its latest Maggard attack, a Jib-Jab style music video, “Moves like Maggard,” parodying Maroon 5’s “Moves like Jagger.”
If Maggard was aware of the text message being circulated, his delivery didn’t offer any indication.
Incumbents understand they will face challengers. The nature of their work is that they will make decisions unpopular with some. Sometimes, those decisions produce political opponents. That is the point of democracy. Elections allow us, the people, an opportunity to choose our leaders.
When we elect our leaders, we should evaluate their character, their vision for public policy and their record.
The 2016 election represented a tragic shift in the civility of our elections. Personal attacks became the rule, rather than the exception. Instead of ideas, debate devolved into name calling.
When campaigns resort to spars between “baskets of deplorables” and crooked candidates, our republic loses.
This type of political decay is festering in our own backyard.
We saw it in last year’s special election for City Council Ward 5, and it’s on full display in the race for Third District Supervisor.
Instead of showing how Maggard’s policy decisions have been detrimental to the people of the Third District, his political opponents have resorted to name-calling, memes and Facebook fake news. The very same tactics Russia used to influence the 2016 presidential election.
If you believe the people of the Third District need a new supervisor, that’s fine with me. Show me how their current supervisor has made any decisions that have negatively affected his constituents. Decisions you disagree with are not proof that Maggard is at the helm of the Deep County.
On the contrary, for the past 12 years, the people of the Third District have had a representative on the Board of Supervisors who consistently demonstrates his commitment to his constituents. One with unassailable ethics and integrity.
Cheesy jingles and name-calling don’t show how the people of east Bakersfield, Oildale and Rosedale would benefit from electing someone else.
That said, I’m expecting more of the same from the people behind the “Mad Mike Maggard” moniker. Any political consultant worth their fees will advise against personal attacks, especially this early in the game and against a supervisor with such exceptional moral conduct.
But, if they are going to continue, could they at least be more creative?
“Moves like Jagger” appeared on a 2010 album and was released as a single in 2011.
Jib-Jab went viral in 2004.
It’s hard to believe the people behind those ads understand, much less have a vision for the future, when they’re hooked on mid-2000s pop culture.
Outsiders criticize Kern County as living a decade behind the times. That criticism is sometimes accurate. Don’t position yourself as the future of Kern County if you’re stuck in the past.
Have fun building a Geocities site to attack Supervisor Maggard.
Meanwhile, I know he’ll keep doing what he’s done since 2006: working on behalf of the people of the Third District, helping lead our county through a generational shift and positioning it for success in the future.
The people of the Third District would be wise to keep him on the Board of Supervisors.
One more thing for the Americans for Safe Neighborhood: If after reading this you feel like including me in your next Jib-Jab, send me an email. I want to make sure you have my current headshot.
Contributing columnist Justin Salters writes weekly on politics, culture and civic engagement; the views expressed are his own. Reach him at Facebook.com/thatjustinsalters, Twitter @justinsalters or email@example.com.