By George Stahl
Special to the Sun
After 33 years in the Kern County District Attorney’s office, veteran prosecutor Cynthia Zimmer decided that she would throw her hat into the ring and run for the top spot in the office. “The times have changed, and in order to keep ahead of them, we have to change too. We have to be dedicated to making sure that the smaller communities as well as the larger ones in Kern County are protected. Public interest and public safety needs to be a priority,” Zimmer told the approximately sixty people who attended a meet and greet Sunday evening.
Ron and Sandi Johnstone hosted the event on Sept. 10 at their home in Kernville, along with Daniel and Jennifer Wagner. Jeanette Rogers-Erickson, who organized the evening, said, “We need people like Cynthia who will have our best interest at heart when it comes to the safety of our community. She is the best person for the job.”
Also in attendance were several Kern River Valley representatives. First District Supervisor Mick Gleason and his wife Robin; Senator Jean Fuller of the 16th Senate District and her husband, Russell; Second District Supervisor Zack Scrivner and his wife Christina; and Supervisor Gleason’s KRV Representative Debbie Freeland and her husband, Dave, were on hand to show their support for Zimmer. A wide range of guests including business owners and entrepreneurs, and the valley’s legal community as well as individuals showed their support for Zimmer that night. Each was there to meet her and to hear how she saw things in the Kern River Valley.
“I was born and raised in the small town of Coalinga. When I was growing up we never had to lock our doors, we didn’t have any fear of being out after dark and we certainly didn’t have to look out for our neighbors. It was a wonderful time,” Zimmer said. “In most areas, those times are no longer here. East Kern, however, is our little jewel. We have a drug problem here, and certainly the changes in the laws, like AB109, Propositions, 47 and 57 have not helped, but if we work together, we can change that and we can have that same quality back in our smaller communities,” Zimmer said.
“I have the backing and support of the Bakersfield Police Department, several departments in the Kern County Sheriff’s office and that of former Sheriff Carl Sparks. The Ridgecrest, Delano and Arvin Police Departments have also endorsed my candidacy. I feel very strongly about seeing to it that law enforcement gets the support and help they need from both the public and the District Attorney’s office,” Zimmer said. She pointed out that as a prosecutor, she always done her best to see to it that once law enforcement has made an arrest in a case, she has partnered with them to prosecute the defendant to pay for their crime. “I have been a supervisor in my office for the past 19 years. I have prosecuted cases ranging from misdemeanors to homicides. I have prosecuted, and have been successful with bringing serial killers, rapists and murders to justice. For the past 10 years, I have been a supervisor in the gang unit and have recently prosecuted some of the most notorious gang members of the Crips personally. Including the East Side Rapist, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole,” Zimmer said as the attendees applauded.
Another of her accomplishments as a supervisor for the DA’s office came during the first five years in that position. For those years, Zimmer was the only female supervisor in the office. “I grew a lot during that time, and I think I paved the way for other women to break that barrier and to be more visible and become leaders,” she said. So much so, that since 2010, Lisa Green has been the first woman in Kern County to hold the position of District Attorney.
“Supervisors in the DA’s office generally do not prosecute cases themselves, but I really feel that unless you spend time in the courtroom, you can’t possibly stay up with the changes, trends and procedures. So, I choose to be there, either as the prosecutor on the case, or as a support to another prosecutor in my unit. I will never ask someone else to handle a case unless I am willing to do it myself,” Zimmer said. “I am also a part of an organization called ‘Mothers on Fire.’ These are a group of women who have lost sons to violent crimes and their killers have not been caught. I feel very strongly about working with law enforcement to turn that around and bring these murders to justice,” Zimmer said.
“Public safety is our number one priority in Kern County,” Supervisor Gleason said. “We need people like Cynthia to help achieve that goal. Encourage your neighbors and friends to vote for her. I know Cynthia, and I know she is the right person for this job. She can get things done,’ he added. In the same vein, Senator Fuller, having known Zimmer since her days as the Superintendent of the Bakersfield City School District, said, “Cynthia and I go back a long way. She may have a calm demeanor, but when it comes to going after the bad guy, she has an aggressive drive that gets good results. She is by far the best person for District Attorney.”
“I love my county. I love my office, and I love the people in my office. I have a penchant for public safety and for making sure violent crimes do not go unpunished. Put the person in prison! I am a firm believer in holding a person accountable for his or her actions. At the same time, I am a proponent for the protection of law enforcement. I know there are a few bad cops out there. They should be just as accountable as the next guy, and they should not be there either. It’s those other 99 percent that need our support and the protection of my office,” Zimmer said.
She concluded the evening by thanking everyone for coming and closed with, “I have been a prosecutor for 33 years, I have enough time in and am old enough to retire, but I really love the office and the people and the public. I am ready to do whatever it takes to make Kern County and the Kern River Valley a better place. The place it should be.”
Zimmer can be reached on her Facebook page, Cynthia Zimmer for Kern County District Attorney.