Local Politics

Tuesday, Oct 02 2012 04:22 PM

Election notebook: Candidate forum on water issues coming up

By The Bakersfield Californian

The Kern County Farm Bureau and Water Association of Kern County will host a forum Thursday evening for Bakersfield City Council and Kern County Water Agency candidates on water and agriculture issues.

Candidates will give brief opening statements and then answer questions. Members of the public can submit their questions at the event. The forum is free and open to the public.

The Kern County Farm Bureau advocates for local farms and agriculture businesses, and the Water Association of Kern County represents Kern water districts and agencies.

Candidates in each race may be in disagreement over water issues, as the city of Bakersfield and the Kern County Water Agency are currently at odds over control of water from the Kern River that's up for grabs. Bakersfield officials want to run the water down the dry Kern River riverbed through the city, and the agency and a handful of other water districts want to use it for irrigation, storage and municipal purposes.

The forum will be at Beale Memorial Library, 701 Truxtun Ave., from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

Bakersfield City Council candidate Elliott Kirschenmann announced an endorsement from Kern County Supervisor Mike Maggard Tuesday.

"Elliott Kirschenmann has the energy and passion to be an effective public servant," Maggard said in a press release from Kirschenmann's campaign. "I trust Elliott Kirschenmann, and I know he will make the very best decisions for his constituents."

Kirschenmann, local restauranteur Terry Maxwell and David Mensch, who teaches people with disabilities to use assistive technology, are competing for the Ward 2 seat, currently held by Sue Benham. Ward 2 includes much of downtown Bakersfield. Kirschenmann is a Bakersfield Planning Commission member who works for a local developer.

Bob Smith , running for the Ward 4 seat on the city council, also gained an endorsement from Maggard.

Smith is the only candidate actively campaigning for the seat, after oil industry lawyer Harley Pinson stopped campaigning, citing disagreements with his campaign managers. Pinson's name will still be on the November ballot, along with Daniel Mbagwu, a third candidate. Mbagwu hasn't campaigned visibly so far.

Smith is the founder of BIke Bakersfield and owns a civil engineering business.

"(Smith's) experience as a business owner and time on the Bakersfield Christian High School Board give him a wealth of knowledge that will allow him to transition to the council quickly," Maggard said.

Pedro Rios has been endorsed by Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., a national trade group that advocates for awarding construction contracts based on merit rather than labor affiliation.

Rios, a Republican and former Delano city councilman, is running against Democrat and Bakersfield City Councilman Rudy Salas for the 32nd Assembly District seat.

"It's great to have the endorsement of the ABC," Rios said. "I appreciate their efficient business practices and efforts to restrict the influence of unions that smother our liberties."

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