One of the great things about being your county supervisor is the chance it gives me to hear your ideas and help implement them, when feasible. Three current examples of this come to mind, which I will share with you here. We can’t always implement these ideas, and I won’t promise you something I can’t deliver, but the door to my office is always open, and your ideas are always important to me, even if sometimes for one reason or the other we can’t make them happen.
One recent idea we were able to make happen, which has been written about in this column recently, is the mobile field-testing clinic for COVID that we implemented a few weeks ago with the farm workers of District 4. California Farmworkers Foundation, along with Good Samaritan Hospital, both came to my office with their idea to do field-testing for COVID, and in a short time, our office was able to help them get a contract using CARES Act funding to do this in Kern County. The story has even made national news, as it was the first of its kind, and was important because it reached our very essential and very high-risk farmworkers, where they work, in the field, gathering our food. But it all started with people coming to my office with an idea.
Another recent example of an idea coming to fruition, because you were organized and willing to bang on a few doors, and because we at the County were willing to listen, is a new rental assistance program coming to Kern County to help prevent evictions and reduce homelessness that might be brought about by the economic fallout from the pandemic. Folks from the Faith in the Valley and the Leadership Council, two organizations active in helping the underserved community, wanted to make sure we understood their concern that many folks affected by COVID might be facing eviction soon. They came to us (through Zoom) to share their concerns about the pandemic’s effect on people being able to pay their monthly housing payment. When COVID first hit, a moratorium on evictions was established that protected our community from the disastrous effects of all those thrown into unemployment not being able to pay rent. That would have led to a greater homelessness crisis, so a 6-month moratorium was established that ends Sept. 1. Faith in the Valley and the Leadership Council were wanting to make sure that, with September fast approaching, we were ready to prevent evictions that might follow, and in anticipation of those concerns, our Board of Supervisors approved an agenda item this past Tuesday establishing new guidelines to protect those that truly need help with their rent.
Similarly, a group called “Building Healthy Communities,” which is a coalition of groups in Kern County dedicated to representing the poor and underserved segments of our population, contacted my office a couple of weeks ago to ask our help in implementing a plan they have that would increase contract tracing for the Latino community. Contract tracing is the process of following up with positive COVID cases to see who they have been in contact with to make sure they don’t also get, and spread, COVID. We brought in Matt Constantine and the entire Public Health Department into the discussion to find COVID-response shortfalls and look for ways this group could help the County better educate and protect this population. After two good group discussions, we’ve identified some things that might truly help improve awareness and are taking next steps to make this happen.
It’s all about listening, and cooperation, and the community knowing that the door is always open to our office, even if it’s just a virtual door these days, for you to share your ideas and help us make this a better, safer place to live. This is the way I believe democracy is supposed to work, where we, the people, work together and where all our ideas are welcome.
Got any ideas of your own? Feel free to contact us at email@example.com or at 661-868-3680. Have a safe week.
David Couch represents Kern County’s Fourth District.