BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — From fossil fuels to public safety to redistricting, Kern County’s Board of Supervisors saw some of the nation’s largest issues cross its desk in 2021. The year brought big decisions and rising temperatures between the Golden Empire and the Golden State.
The tension kicked off in March when a petroleum-driven tug-of-war started between the tough-on-fossil-fuel state government and its largest oil-producing county.
“Why would we trade the oil produced in the most clean fashion probably in the world for oil to be imported that is the dirtiest,” District 3 Supervisor Mike Maggard said.
As California continued to crack down on fossil fuels, Kern’s Board went the other way. It unanimously approved thousands of new oil wells back on March 8.
Then, in July, came a delayed vote on a new solar project in Rosamond. The Board cited the governor’s solar tax law as the reason.
“A loss of over $19 million per year is what we’re experiencing in Kern County because of that solar property tax exclusion,” District 2 Supervisor Zack Scrivner said.
The energy-motivated clashes came to a head in August. Kern’s Board voted to sue the state over a denial of fracking permits. The oil drilling technique is widely-used in Kern, but Newsom has vowed to end it in the state by 2024.
With fall, came redistricting, a process that left Kern and California with two very different new maps. Statewide, new districts boosted the voting power of Latinos. Meanwhile, Kern’s Board kept its map largely the same, voting down one that would have created a third Latino majority district.
“This is the people’s government, funded by the taxpayer and it belongs to the people,” District 5 Supervisor Leticia Perez said. “I believe that wholeheartedly and in that spirit, I support the Equity map.”
It all leads to likely politically-active 2022.
Perez, the only dissenter to the new map, said she won’t seek re-election when her term ends in 2024. That spurred chatter she is launching a bid for state assembly, leaving the possibility her seat will be vacant next year and the potential Newsom could be tasked with filling it.