Ms. Zimmer, I read with great interest your open letter to California’s governor.

You start by criticizing his comments labeling Kern County “the homicide capital of California,” and point out that there has been an increase in smash-and-grab thefts in LA and San Francisco. However, it is a statistical fact that on a per-capita basis, Kern County has the highest homicide rate of any county in the state. Becoming indignant and defensive when someone points this out is not helpful, and smash-and-grab thefts have nothing to do with homicides. If we don’t acknowledge our problems, we cannot hope to resolve them.

You then say that “legislation supported and signed by (Newsom), radically reducing penalties for criminal behavior, has caused crime to skyrocket throughout California.” However, crime has skyrocketed throughout the United States in the last year or two, and most states did not have any such legislation. Therefore, this legislation cannot be the cause for the increase in crime in California.

Your claim that “our county’s homicide rate has remained fairly constant over the past four years” is true, but misleading. While our homicide rate may not have changed in the last four years, it has gone up over time, from 5.4 per 100,000 in 2011 to more than 12 today. Meanwhile, Los Angeles and San Francisco have seen decreases in their homicide rates over the last decade, and are currently at about 7 and 5, respectively. So while your statement was literally true, you seem to have cherry-picked numbers to suit your argument.

I have lived in Bakersfield for many years, and have noticed a complete lack of interest among local politicians in addressing crime, homelessness and other related issues. Instead, the blame is always placed on Sacramento. We have too much crime because Newsom did this, we can’t fix homelessness because the state did that. This attitude goes back to the Gray Davis years. One has to wonder whether Kern County politicians are intentionally avoiding addressing our local problems because it is more politically beneficial to place the blame on “liberal” policies coming from Sacramento.

As I look around California, I see many cities and counties trying different approaches to crime. As you mentioned, your counterpart in L.A. County is experimenting with bail and sentencing reform. San Diego is trying alternative interventions with gangs. San Francisco is investing in affordable housing and health care for drug users. Will these efforts work? Some may, and some may not. But they will definitely be more helpful than sitting around and blaming Newsom and the state for all of our problems.

Ms. Zimmer, you mentioned something about Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, but I fail to see the relevance of this. I don’t see L.A. politicians criticizing Bakersfield, because they are focused on their own issues. You would be well-served to focus on your own job in your own county, rather than criticizing an elected official selected by voters in another county.

In conclusion, I will observe that the highest crime rates in California are consistently found in the Central Valley, which typically votes conservative. Therefore, the reason for this cannot be liberal policies. The reason is the complete failure of our local politicians to address our issues, because they are too busy writing editorials criticizing Gascon, Newsom and whomever else they want to use as a scapegoat so they don’t have to do their jobs.

Brian Nammer is a work-from-home software engineer. He was raised in Delano and has lived in Bakersfield since the 1990s.