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Smith announces candidacy for Third District seat on Kern County Board of Supervisors

Brian Smith

Brian Smith

Well into his campaign for the 3rd District seat of the Kern County Board of Supervisors, former California Highway Patrol Assistant Chief Brian Smith formally announced to the news media Thursday he is running for the position.

The U.S. Marine Corps veteran said that, if elected to succeed Mike Maggard, he would defend public safety, protect taxpayers and restore confidence in government.

On stage at the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame in front of close to 20 supporters, Smith said people shouldn’t have to avoid parks because they’re afraid of crime or people living on the street, and that business owners shouldn’t suffer because of people who are homeless sleeping in front of their storefronts.

He proposed providing what he called appropriate solutions for mentally ill people with nowhere else to go. He also said the county should do more to retain law enforcement recruited to work locally.

County government spends money recruiting officers and doing background investigations “and then at the end of the year, they go and leave for other departments” elsewhere, Smith said, adding that he will disclose all contributions to his campaign and return all phone calls and emails, if elected.

Arvin Police Chief Eddie Brock spoke at Thursday’s event. A veteran of the Marines from Philadelphia like Smith, he called the candidate a family man “and very much a leader” with achievable goals beneficial to the people of Kern.

Former county Sheriff Carl Sparks had been scheduled to speak at the event in support of Smith’s candidacy but said circumstances left him unable to do so. He said afterward by phone he expects Smith would work hard and learn all about the job.

“He loves people,” Sparks said of Smith. “He goes to an event and he just works the room, not because it’s politically smart to do (but) because he just likes people.”

Smith’s candidacy puts him up against Maggard’s longtime chief of staff, Jeff Flores, who declared his own candidacy earlier this month. Both candidates have been working behind the scenes for months to gauge and build political support.

Former Bethany Services Inc. CEO Louis Gill has declared his candidacy as well. After stepping down from the nonprofit that runs the Bakersfield Homeless Center and the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault, Gill announced last year he would challenge Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, but announced Jan. 4 he would instead run for the county's Third District supervisor seat.

Editor's note: This story has been amended to include information about Gill's candidacy.