Local Politics

Wednesday, Mar 12 2014 05:08 PM

Six of seven county races uncontested: Why?

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    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    Kern County Supervisor Mike Maggard appears on "First Look with Scott Cox."

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green talks to the media during a press conference in her office regarding the court ruling that came down Friday regarding Internet cafes.

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    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood speaks at a press conference about the David Sal Silva case.

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BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer jburger@bakersfield.com

Two Kern County supervisors, the sheriff, the district attorney and the auditor-controller have already won re-election to their respective offices.

And the hand-picked successor to Treasurer-Tax Collector Jackie Denney will handed her job without a fight.

Candidates for six of the seven open elected positions in county government are getting a free ride this year.

Only in the Kern County assessor-recorder race will there be more than one candidate. It will feature Bakersfield City Councilman Russell Johnson and two mid-level managers in the tax-setting agency.

"I like Mike Maggard, Lisa Green, Donny Youngblood," said Republican campaign strategist Stan Harper said of the county supervisor, district attorney and sheriff. "But I think everybody should be challenged. No one should go unchallenged."

No one filed to run against Maggard or Supervisor Zack Scrivner.

Maggard has sat comfortably in the 3rd District seat for two four-year terms. He had $75,909 in his campaign finance account at the end of December.

But Scrivner barely squeaked out a victory in the 2010 2nd District race against former Supervisor Steve Perez.

And his campaign account was more on the modest side in December at $30,455.

Kern County Democratic Party Chair Candi Easter said they were looking for a candidate to run against Scrivner but the person chose not to run at the last minute.

As for Maggard, she said, "Maggard is one of those we can work with. He's an independent. If we were going to target a seat, it probably wouldn't be that one."

No opponents to Green or Youngblood appeared. The two law enforcement leaders have been prominent in the community for years and had healthy campaign war chests in place.

At the end of December, Green had $98,008 in the bank and Youngblood had $39,768.

Auditor-Controller Mary Bedard has never run a campaign. She was appointed to her office by Kern County supervisors in 2012 after previous Auditor-Controller Ann Barnett retired mid-term.

But Easter noted that only an accountant is allowed to run for the non-partisan seat, and Bedard is a Democrat.

She said the Democratic Party is working to muster strength a little lower down the political ladder, concentrating on seats on school boards and city council.

Harper said it is hard to get into politics, especially when facing a well-funded incumbent.

"In this economy it's hard to raise money," he said.

Democratic consultant and former Kern County Supervisor Gene Tackett said the lack of county contests is a symptom of a larger problem.

"I think it's a combination of people not caring anymore. Being a public official doesn't have the kind of draw it used to have," he said. "I think there is a lot of apathy in voters, taxpayers and elected officials."

Tackett remembered that when he ran for supervisor, someone always found an opponent to put up against him.

Harper agreed.

With all the ire people direct at government, and local, state and federal elected officials, when the rubber meets the road, people don't do anything.

"Nobody's willing to stand up and do something about it," Harper said. "I really wish people would get out there and participate."

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