BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — This June and November, voters in Kern will face a slate of options. 17 News is sitting down with Kern’s candidates so the county can make an informed decision.

We are turning to Kern County’s third district Supervisor race. Supervisor Mike Maggard has held this seat since 2007 and is now retiring.

After redistricting this fall, the new third district lines cover much of northeast and north Bakersfield, as well as Oildale and a portion of west and southwest Bakersfield.

Republicans out-register Democrats in the district by about 5 percent.

The three candidates in the race are Jeff Flores, Louis Gill and Brian Smith.

A closer look at Brian Smith

Born the ninth of 11 children just outside of Philadelphia, Brian Smith first made his way to California with the Marine Corps at 18.

At 22, he joined the California Highway Patrol — rising up the ranks and moving throughout the state. But it was Bakersfield, he says, that always felt like home.

“We moved here in 1987 and every time I was promoted and moved somewhere else, we always came back to Bakersfield just because we loved the community here,” Smith said.

The 60-year-old who has six children and three step-children with his wife, Nancy, spent 28 years with the highway patrol. Since retiring, he writes a weekly column called Cop Tales — true stories of police officers across the country.

“I really started to write that just because of all the negativity against police officers and no one really got to see what we do out there,” Smith said.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, his experience in law enforcement is the same thing driving his first ever political bid as he attempts to take the 3rd district Supervisor seat 

“One of the biggest things I want to do is we really need to get more deputies out on the streets and take care of our first responders, that’s really what got me motivated to do it,” he said.

Supervisor seats are non-partisan positions, but Smith said he is a staunch conservative Republican. When asked what he would change about our current local government — Smith said the county does not have control over the liberal policies coming from the Sacramento, but says he is determined to ensure red-leaning Kern County has a say.

“I think one of the biggest answers that everyone says is it’s the state, there is nothing we can do,” Smith said. “Well that’s wrong. We are all even communities, we are part of the state, we need to put our input in.” 

For instance, when it comes to proposition 47 — the measure California voters approved that, among other crime reforms, made theft under $950 a misdemeanor rather than a felony — Smith says he would get a committee together to try to repeal the law.

Overall, his top priority is to address crime and homelessness and added he feels communication with residents is key.

“When you call somebody, your representatives, they should be calling you right back,” Smith said. “On highway patrol, I always answered every single email, every call even if I knew it was a complaint coming in.”

17 News invites everyone running for office in Kern to speak with us about their candidacy.

We are hosting a live debate Wednesday night on 17 News at 7 P.M. featuring the three candidates running for Kern County’s third district Supervisor seat.