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 Louis Gill
Sixth generation San Joaquin resident, 52-year-old Louis Gill grew up on his grandfather’s cattle ranch in Tulare county.
“My grandfather used to tell me very simple phrases and what he told me about community service, he says if you can and you’re able, you oughta and so I tried to live that way,” Gill said.
After spending a year living in Mexico and earning his master’s in nonprofit administration from the University of San Francisco, Gill moved back home to the Central Valley in 2000.
In March that year, he took on the role of executive director of the Bakersfield Homeless Center, acquiring the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault soon after. He ran both for 21 years while living in Bakersfield with his wife, Kate, and three children.
“I’ve been working in the streets of our community. I’ve been working trying to get government to assist people, help people, make it function the way it was supposed to,” he said.
After stepping aside from his nonprofit role last year, Gill is taking his first step into politics, looking to take over the Kern County Board of Supervisors district three seat.
“I think that we need leadership change at many levels,” Gill said. “Here in Kern county, we have an amazing community but we need individuals who have experience outside of government, that have actually had to do the work that their decisions affect.”
Gill initially launched a bid for Congress to unseat Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) as a Democrat in one of California’s reddest districts. He said statewide redistricting led to his shift from Capitol Hill to Kern’s Board of Supervisors.
“My roots are in Tulare county and Kern County,” Gill said. “When the district went up into Fresno county, included Kings (county), had four different counties, it took the majority of the effort away from the people that I know, the people that I care about. I want to create change in my home, in my community.”
Perhaps expected, one of his top issues, along with public safety and the economy, is addressing homelessness, something he says he experiences personally in district three.
“I have seen first hand what is going on. First and foremost, I’m the only individual with experience with homelessness and it is dramatically affecting district three in many of our different areas,” Gill said. “I understand how the system works, I also know where we can make improvements, I would like to bring that knowledge to it.”
Although Supervisors are non-partisan positions, Gill is the only Democrat in the race. However, he believes it’s his experience working in nonprofits in Bakersfield — not party affiliation — that will set him apart.
“I think the issue is, is there an individual who has worked in the community, that has worked through the systems that operate in the county and has had to get it done — well, that’s me.”