Local public defender Tracey Gallagher hopeful candidate in race for Ridgecrest bench

Story by Catherine Stachowiak

Sometimes in life, something seemingly ordinary will take place which will forever alter the course of your life.

That’s what happened to Tracey Gallagher, a 17-year veteran of the Public Defender’s Office assigned to the Ridgecrest Branch of the Kern County Superior Court.

For Gallagher, that moment in time came when she watched critically-acclaimed movie, “Erin Brockovich.”

Gallagher spoke about the impact the movie had on her and would ultimately lead to her becoming an attorney and now running for local judge of the Kern County Superior Court, Office 34 (Ridgecrest).

Gallagher first arrived in Ridgecrest 35 years ago and went to work for the Naval Weapons Center where she held a top secret clearance.  She then moved on to Sierra Sands school district and went to law school at the same time while raising her daughter. 

“I passed the bar the first time ” she said. 

As a new attorney one of Gallagher’s greatest passions in life was upholding the United States Constitution.

Said Gallagher, “I will NEVER abandon the Constitution.”

As a public defender, Gallagher said she has heard people remark that her job is to get criminals off. To this, she has a solid reply.

Said Gallagher, “I tell them that my job is to defend the U.S. Constitutional rights of the people. I defend the public and I defend the people and I defend the Constitution, and I will not waiver from that… EVER.”

Gallagher said, yes, there are criminals who walk amongst us as she sees their case files on her desk all the time. This includes criminals charged with the possession of 200 pounds of Fentanyl, however the buck doesn’t stop there, in her eyes.

Said Gallagher, “Who is letting these people out? Who is shortening these sentences? It’s not the public defender’s office.”

Ridgecrest attorney Ed Ortega said Gallagher knows the law inside and out when it comes to legal procedures involving military personnel which is crucial for a Ridgecrest judge to possess.

In addition, Ortega said Gallagher knows all the local attorneys and how the local courthouse operates.

Also rallying behind Gallagher in her campaign is long-time Ridgecrest resident and local realtor, Carole Vaughan.

“First of all, we are going to need a local judge in order to understand the community. Second, we need somebody who is honest. I don’t want to see somebody who is punitive and I don’t want to see somebody who lets everyone out on the street. I want somebody who is fair and peaceful and who knows what can and can’t be done. She (Gallagher) is definitely that somebody. She is smart and fair,” Vaughan said Wednesday.

Denny Kline, who once served as the representative for former First District Supervisor Mick Gleason and had an office across the hall from her, said he has known Gallagher and for over 15 years.

“I’m excited for her and the community. We really need to do everything we can to make sure we have a local judge,” Kline said Thursday, adding that Gallagher would be a good judge for Ridgecrest.

Ridgecrest city councilmember Scott Hayman said Wednesday that he has known Gallagher for 20 years or more.

“She has been in the community for a long time, and has served the community for a long time in a positive manner. I find her to be a very caring and fair person, and I think that she would serve well in this position as a judge,” Hayman said

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