Supervisor incumbents David Couch and Leticia Perez received strong early indications of support as the first elections results trickled in Tuesday evening.
Phillip Peters, who is retiring Supervisor Mick Gleason's chosen successor, also posted a large lead over his opponents.
Peters earned 10,185 votes in the First District race compared to 4,797 for David Fluhart and 3,782 for Daures Stephens, with around 42 percent of precincts reporting. That gave Peters 54.3 percent of the vote, compared to Fluhart's 25.6 and Stephens' 20.2.
Couch earned 3,739 votes in the Fourth District, compared to Emilio Huerta's 2,385 with 66 percent of precincts reporting. Couch's vote total equaled 61 percent compared to Huerta's 39 percent.
In the Fifth District, Perez earned 3,000 votes compared to David Abbasi's 690, Ricardo Herrera's 582, Ronnie Cruz's 498 and Ben Valdez Jr's 404 with around 67 percent of precincts reporting in. In early results, Perez earned 58 percent of the vote compared to Abbasi's 13.3 percent, Herrera's 11.3 percent, Cruz's 9.6 percent and Valdez's 7.8 percent.
If any of the supervisor candidates earn more than 50 percent of the vote, they will win the race outright.
In the race for First District, voters had the choice between sticking with what they know or moving in a new direction.
Peters, who worked as Gleason’s district director for five years, voiced his support for Gleason’s leadership during the campaign, and received Gleason’s formal approval during the campaign. Although he said he would “be his own man” if elected, all signs indicated he would likely follow his boss’s lead if he won the office.
He faced off against former Kern County Sheriff’s deputy Stephens, who ran largely on restoring morale to the Sheriff’s Office.
Marijuana farmer and self-proclaimed gadfly Fluhart also ran, saying in an interview with The Californian during the election he hoped to “save the world” and create a utopia if he won.
Incumbent Supervisor Couch faced yet another Latino challenger in the race for the Fourth District, in a closely-watched race that was poised to shift the balance of power on the Board of Supervisors. In 2018, then-mayor of Delano Grace Vallejo and Lamont Chamber of Commerce President Jose Gonzalez lost against Couch in the first election in the district since it became a Latino-majority.
Both Gonzalez and Vallejo split the vote in the Fourth District, allowing Couch to win with 43 percent of the total.
This time around, civil rights attorney Huerta, who is Dolores Huerta’s son, challenged Couch. As the only candidate, Huerta hoped to benefit from a united Latino vote.
During the campaign, the issue of Huerta’s true residence emerged as a key issue. Huerta claimed to live at an address on Belmont Street in Delano, while his opponents said he really lived in central Bakersfield.
The issue became so heated, Delano City Councilman Joe Aguirre filed a lawsuit in Kern Superior Court asking Huerta be taken off the ballot and lawyers for Huerta requested the District Attorneys Office launch a criminal investigation into how evidence for the suit was gathered.
The issue could be brought back before the court if Aguirre chooses to do so after the election.
The Fifth District race saw four candidates attempt to take Perez’s seat on the Board of Supervisors.
Only one, Herrera, had elected office experience.
The race came shortly after Perez settled her conflict-of-interest case with the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. In the settlement, Perez admitted her husband Fernando Jara received payments from people in the marijuana industry, which conflicted with a vote she participated in regarding the regulation of marijuana.
Perez said during the campaign she expected the settlement to have some influence on the election results.
As the first results came in, it appeared the impact would not limit Perez's immediate political career.