By The Bakersfield Californian
Kern County has long been viewed as politically conservative to the core, so it might seem insignificant that one Assembly district, the 32nd, would be won by a Democrat. However, it should be most concerning. State politicians have managed to use Rudy Salas as a type of Trojan horse to gain a supermajority, giving Gov. Jerry Brown the ability to amend the state constitution, raise taxes, and pass partisan legislation with no regard for the needs of the Central Valley.
Some say that Salas will not give in to the whims of his party, but even Salas himself has stated that one of his first priorities will be to continue the push by the Democratic leadership to "reform" the California Environmental Quality Act. This supposed reform is only an attempt to exempt Democratic special interest projects from an environmental law that's currently serving as a wall of protection for Bakersfield.
In fact, City Manager Alan Tandy recently noted this about CEQA protections against the poorly planned high-speed rail project: "The assaults on essential city properties without being willing to discuss mitigation or how we would operate is outside CEQA and unacceptable. Our view of CEQA is they can't go through this stage of the environmental process without dealing with (that)." Nevertheless, environmental reform remains as a top priority for Salas. So, while many remain hopeful that Salas will support the valley as a moderate, I do not share their optimism.