The race for Kern County's 1st District Supervisor's seat is a classic insider-outsider matchup.
Long-time lawmaker Roy Ashburn versus political newcomer Mick Gleason.
Ashburn has nearly 40 years of experience in government service.
Gleason, a military veteran and a native of Massachusetts, has none.
This week, we profile these two candidates, why they're in the race, and what they hope to accomplish if elected.
Ridgecrest, Mick Gleason's stronghold, is a diverse district that stretches from Kern County's high desert through the Kern River Valley to the Valley floor.
Mick Gleason admits, this is where he's most comfortable, among military veterans and citizens of Ridgecrest, here for the city's annual veterans standdown.
"Yep. Ridgecrest, vets, friends… people taking care of each other," said Gleason.
Gleason is a former Navy pilot, with 53 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm.
In 2004, he was selected Commander of the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station.
Now, he's a part-time consultant for defense contractor General Dynamics.
When Supervisor Jon McQuiston announced he wouldn't seek another term, Gleason and his wife Robynn decided it was time to get involved.
"We disagree fundamentally with a lot of decisions being made in our country and state, and so we decided that to help we had to be in it," said Gleason.
We asked Gleason, with such grave concerns about state and federal issues, why bother with county politics.
"If you can't take care of things in your own backyard, what right do you have to say 'Sacramento, you're doing things wrong.' You gotta develop an environment where you've proven that you make a difference," said Gleason.
Gleason relishes the label of "outsider". He says he'll bring a fresh perspective to the Board of Supervisors.
And, he's quick to add that his 27 years in the Navy won't dominate his leadership style.
Being on the Board of Supervisors isn't about Mick Gleason the Commander. It's about working with four other supervisors and understanding the issues.
The issues Gleason cares most about? Representation is number one. "Elevating the quality of representation throughout the district," he said.
Gleason is focused on improving Kern's business climate. "The only way out of this mess is by enabling businesses to grow with meaningful, but not oppressive regulations."
And, Gleason puts a premium on education. "To have a qualified workforce to support a business base."
Gleason also disagrees sharply with Ashburn about efforts to reinforce and improve the dam at Lake Isabella.
Ashburn has strong criticism for the plan put forth by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Gleason says the project is too important and the risks too great for the Corps to fail.
"It's a $400 to $600 million project. They're not just going to throw that money away," he said.
And, Gleason says, aside from the disruptions sure to come with construction on the dam, there will also be economic opportunities for the Kern River Valley.
"We've got to find a way, as a Valley, to say how are we going to get some of that? Where are they going to eat, sleep, and live? Park their cars? There's a bunch of opportunities, let's get on top of that."
Back at the vets standdown in Ridgecrest, a curious sight. There, in the same room are Gleason, Supervisor Jon McQuiston, the man he hopes to replace, and Roy Ashburn, the man he hopes to beat. The incumbent, the insider and the outsider.
And, Gleason relishes his outsider status and believes Ashburn's insider status is his weakness. "Roy's been doing this a long time. He's been doing it for 30 years. So yeah, he's a career politician, and I offer my services as someone who's not a career politician. People are eager for new ideas."
Gleason garnered some 60 percent of the vote in Ridgecrest in the primary election, even though the city's mayor and mayor pro-tem endorsed Roy Ashburn.
Gleason has been endorsed by Congressman Kevin McCarthy, Senator Jean Fuller and Assemblywoman Shannon Grove.
Gleason's campaign consultant is Mark Abernathy.
Wednesday night, we'll talk with Roy Ashburn about his bid to return to the same supervisor's seat he occupied for twelve years.