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 Jeff Flores
A San Gabriel Valley native, Jeff Flores made Kern County his home at 18, and said he never looked back.
“I don’t want to give up on Kern County because it has not given up on me and I want to give it my all, give it my back, serve and fight for these people and fight for our neighborhoods,” Flores said.
Flores — who has an 11-year-old son with his wife Jackie — received his masters in public policy and public administration from Cal State Bakersfield. He spent much of his career working for Rio Tinto Minerals — the largest open-pit mine in California.
While working in government affairs there, he met current third district Supervisor Mike Maggard. Flores left Rio Tinto to join Maggard’s team as chief of staff — a position he has held since 2010.
In 2014, Flores decided to try his hand at holding public office himself — running to represent Area 2 on Kern High School Board of Trustees — where he has now served for eight years.
“That gave me tremendous insight into the industries of Kern County, navigating bureaucracies and just being a champion for the host community,” he said.
Now, with Maggard stepping aside, Flores is hoping to succeed his boss in representing Kern’s third district on the Board of Supervisors — believing his time under Maggard and on the high school board will win over voters.
“I can bring experience, I know the district, I know the departments, I know the neighborhoods, I’ve been a problem solver during my tenure,” he said.
If elected, he says his top issue is protecting jobs in Kern and the local economy
“That helps us with public safety, that helps us with delivering county services,” Flores said, “All of that is connected, so that’s my number one priority.”
Supervisor seats are non-partisan positions but Flores considers himself a proud conservative Republican. Like many Republicans in the overwhelmingly liberal California, Flores says the policies coming down from the state Capitol are the biggest obstacle for Kern County.
“There is a lot a things that are lacking in Sacramento,” Flores said, “I know residents are frustrated because they see these impacts on their streets, neighborhoods and business corridors.”
Nonetheless, Flores says he is determined to advocate for Kern — making a distinction between himself and Republicans fleeing the deep-blue state for redder pastures.
“I don’t want to give up, I don’t want to move to Texas, I don’t want to move to Tennessee, I want to stay here and fight the good fight.”