The sparks are flying in the race for the newly reconfigured 4th District, but David Couch isn't the only Kern County supervisor facing a noteworthy challenge.
Third District Supervisor Mike Maggard must fend off Bakersfield fire captain Jeff Heinle and Second District Supervisor Zack Scrivner has three rivals: Whitney Weddell, Dal Bunn and Michael Biglay.
In Weddell and Heinle particularly we see political newcomers with something to contribute, but in the end we must conclude that the incumbents are best suited to carry on the work of representing their assigned pieces of the county.
Maggard, the three-term incumbent, is a certified public accountant whose skills with a calculator have been invaluable on the board. But he is more than a numbers guy: Maggard has forged solid connections with the people in his district — which includes neighborhoods north of the Kern River and much of east Bakersfield — so much so that he has long been known as the "mayor of Oildale."
He has been a voice of reason in the ongoing cannabis debate, arguing consistently that California's unprepared leap into legalization doesn't mean Kern County must play along any more than it has to — at least some changes take place at the state and federal level.
Maggard has been one of the leaders on the board in the challenging quest for balance in annual budget hearings that invariably leave department heads feeling shortchanged because of decreased tax revenues from oil's plunging property values.
This isn't easy work, so experience matters and Maggard has it.
Scrivner, the two-term 2nd District representative, oversees the largest of the five districts, thanks to a court-ordered redistricting that has created new responsibilities for him: The Second occupies almost the entire southern half of the county and now includes Taft and Frazier Park. So Scrivner is familiarizing himself with new constituents, the same task any successful challenger would have.
Like Maggard, Scrivner is an alumnus of the Bakersfield City Council and a seasoned budget negotiator. And like Maggard, he is strongly pro-law enforcement.
Scrivner has said he would work on getting more sheriff’s reserve officers to help regular deputies with routine patrol, and he would consider establishing an insurance program for first responders. Those are both sound proposals that come at a time of high stress and overwork among deputies and other public safety workers.
Whitney Weddell stands out among Scrivner's challengers as a reasonable, thoughtful alternative, and her continued participation in constructive community leadership is welcomed and encouraged.
Experience counts on the Board of Supervisors. Board members must reflect their constituencies and understand their challenges, and Maggard and Scrivner both fill those bills.
The Californian endorses Mike Maggard for third district supervisor and Zack Scrivner for second district supervisor.