1st District race heating up

By Jake Lee Green
Kern Valley Sun

The race for the First District Supervisors Office is well underway with three candidates vying for control of the title through their respective campaigns. Kern County is less than a month away from hitting the voting booths and each candidate has been hard at work to earn the attention of their constituents. Daures Stephens, 56, and Phillip Peters, 31, have been the most notable, however, the third candidate David Fluhart, 49, has recently gained a bit of press himself.

The current First District Supervisor, Mick Gleason, had decided not to enter into the race this year and will be stepping aside while endorsing his choice for the role, which is Peters. For eight years the former Navy Captain has fulfilled the role as representative for two terms to the Kern County Board of Supervisors. Gleason has favored Peters in taking on the position through his endorsement and stands by Peters as the right choice for the job.

Despite Peters’ endorsements from Gleason, and community leaders such as Kevin McCarthy and Senator Shannon Grove, a major contender for the First District position, Stephens, is making strides of his own in collecting endorsements and publicity for his campaign. Stephens is a retired Kern County Sheriff’s Office deputy and a Marine Corps veteran. These attributes have gained the notice of many of Kern County’s veterans and law enforcement. Stephens himself has been endorsed by the Kern County Probation Officer’s Association, Assemblymember Devon Mathis, and a lengthy list of high-ranking retired KCSO.

Each of the two heavily endorsed candidates have the experience to bring to the table. Experience that may tip the scales for either candidate at the voting booth. For Stephens, public safety is a large part of his campaign. Much of his endorsements show that he is well respected amongst the law enforcement community. Having recently secured an endorsement from Retired Kern County Sheriff Carl Sparks has given him some favor amongst the department. In the past, Stephens has been an advocate and achiever of opening a branch of the Kern County Superior Court in Lake Isabella and is a trustee for the South Fork Union School District.

Despite Peters age, the young District Director for the First District Supervisor has built an impressive amount of support from Kern County’s most powerful people. Mayor of Bakersfield Karen Goh and Sheriff/Coroner Donny Youngblood have even joined the sizeable list of campaign endorsements. Peters is a former Area 4 trustee for the Kern High School District and has served as Gleason’s District Director for the past two years.
Recently Peters has been doing his best to thwart accusations that he is misleading voters by having titled himself District Director. Peters responded to the accusations by saying this, “This is an easily disproved claim that hardly merits discussion. All Kern County Supervisor’s employees are classified as a Field Rep 1-6 for payroll purposes, but, nearly all have different job titles, including Chief of Staff, District Director, Constituent Services Specialist, and Administrative Assistant. I have been honored to serve the First District as District Director for the past two years. For questions regarding employee job titles, please contact the Kern County Administrative Office. For more information on payroll classifications, visit www.transparentCalifornia.com”

For the die-hard Stephens supporters, this response to the public about the title and information concerning his duties has not been satisfying. A reality that easily dismisses the case towards Peters as deceiving the public is the opportunity for Stephens to appoint a ‘District Director’ for his own office if he himself is elected. In addition, the Kern County Election’s Division has the title listed in the Kern County Qualified List.

Fluhart has gained a bit of attention for himself through his platform of marijuana advocacy. Part of his plan to improve the livelihood of Kern County Residents in the First District is to create a public trust in the interest of advancing marijuana growth. In addition, he’d like to see the entirety of the Mojave Desert, between China Lake and Edwards Air Force Base, become a spaceport in preparation for the new age of outer-space travel. A claim that many folks in Kern County have found humorous on the internet, but, isn’t necessarily an idea that is completely out of the ballpark considering the recent declarations of a new branch of the military by the name of the Space Force being formed by the Trump Administration. Fluhart seeks to create a utopia for the residents of Eastern Kern County and the world.

The First District runs from Rosedale in Bakersfield through the Kern River Valley and Eastern Kern which includes Ridgecrest, Johannesburg, and the Indian Wells Valley. Gleason says whoever does replace him as First District Supervisor will need to know the many needs of these territories within the First District. Especially after the First District had gone through redistricting after a lawsuit filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) in 2018 ruled that the largely Latino populations of Delano, McFarland, Shafter, and parts of Bakersfield were to be incorporated into David Couch’s District Four. MALDEF accused the Board of Supervisors in the lawsuit of having diluted the voting power of Latinos in that area.

Amongst all the publicity each candidate stands as their own man. Each with a vision of the future for the constituents of the First District in Kern County. Elections will be held on March 3 so be sure to mark your calendar and provide your vote for your candidate of First District Supervisor.