BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer email@example.com
Former U.S. Navy aviator Mick Gleason easily won the race for the 1st District Kern County supervisor seat late Tuesday night.
With all precincts reporting, Gleason defeated veteran lawmaker Roy Ashburn 59.61 percent to 40.02 percent.
Gleason is set to join one of the most inexperienced Kern County Boards of Supervisors to helm the county in years.
He and freshmen Supervisors-elect Leticia Perez and David Couch are to join two-year Supervisor Zack Scrivner and six-year Supervisor Mike Maggard as veteran Supervisors Jon McQuiston and Ray Watson retire.
Ashburn played up his experience as a supervisor, assemblyman and state senator during the pair's sometimes-pitched battle.
But Gleason saw an advantage in the enthusiasm of inexperience that, he said, Perez, Couch and he will bring to the board.
"It's going to be a full-frontal assault and it's not going to stop until we start getting things done" and he settles into his new role, Gleason said.
The incoming board will lead a county that is just coming out of years of sharp staff and budget cuts that have curtailed services and triggered battles with county unions.
Gleason, the former commanding officer of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, will almost assuredly be thrust into the battle to protect Kern's military installations from potential budget cuts and asked to shepherd the Kern River Valley through reconstruction of the two dams at Isabella Lake.
Gleason said his first order of business will be to build coalitions with his constituents and other board members then tackle regulations, drug problems and other big issues head-on.
"Some of (my ideas) are going to be dumb and hopefully the other four members will tell me that," Gleason said. "But some of them are going to be good."
The battle between the two men was tough, with both trying to chip away at each other's strongholds.
Late in the campaign, Gleason and his supporters swung hard at Ashburn's weak spots, his 2010 admission that he drove while drunk and his decision to support a temporary tax increase that balanced the 2009 budget.
Ashburn struck back, criticizing Gleason for re-registering from the American Independent to Republican party just more than a month before he announced his candidacy for the non-partisan supervisor's seat.