Local Politics

Friday, Mar 22 2013 03:00 PM

INGA BARKS: Stop the madness: Vote Florez

BY INGA BARKS Contributing columnist

Boy do we have a boatload of egos motoring around Kern County. Which is why I'm adopting a new motto for the next couple months: "Stop the madness! Vote Fran Florez!"

I don't know about you, but I've had about enough of elected officials deciding that they are so dang important and special that we can't live without them in a higher seat. This is getting ridiculous!

No sooner had Rudy Salas won his Bakersfield City Council seat that he started eying the state Assembly. He threw constituents to the wind and ran with abandon ... literally. He abandoned the people of his ward to run for state Assembly.

Why? Because he is so skilled, so sharp, so brilliant that no other person -- like, say, one that wasn't currently in office -- could serve the public as well as he.

Salas' Assembly victory led to the need for a June 4 special election to find a new city council member for his old seat.

I imagine had city officials known that state Sen. Michael Rubio would be resigning to work for Chevron, they may have considered a way to combine the election to replace him with the one to replace Salas. But alas, Gov. Jerry Brown set a different date for the Rubio special election, leaving us with two upcoming votes.

Enter Leticia Perez, the newly elected 5th District Kern County supervisor. Perez won the seat after defeating Karen Goh, who had been appointed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger after then-Supervisor Rubio abandoned it to run for the 16th Senate District post. (This is getting dizzying!)

But before the ink dried on her winning ballots, Perez, a Democrat, decided that she is just so special, so uniquely qualified for the state Senate that she, like Salas, must abandon those who JUST voted her in to run for higher office.

If Perez wins the state Senate post, Brown will appoint yet another seat-filler for the people of the 5th Supervisorial District until the next round of elections comes along to fill it.

That's why I say to those of you deciding between Florez and Perez, "Stop the madness! Vote Fran Florez!"

Florez is also running as a Democrat to represent the 16th Senate District. Granted, she is a sitting city councilwoman in Shafter, but unlike Perez, she's served several terms.

Obviously, I want Republican Andy Vidak to ultimately win the state Senate seat, either outright in the May 21 special primary or, if nobody gets a majority of the vote, in the July 23 special general election.

But for some of you, voting for Vidak isn't an option. So, I say, send a message and side with Florez.

Other current office holders who considered the seat were Republican Bakersfield City Councilman Russell Johnson (who now has been on the council a little longer than Salas was) and Democrats Richard Valle, a Kings County supervisor, and Henry Perea, a Fresno County supervisor. All three gentlemen, like Florez, have served for some time, so leaving them for higher office, as Florez seeks to do, isn't gross like the moves that Salas and Perez have made.

Our elected officials run to be servants of the people. At least that's what they say in their fliers. In deciding to leave their constituents in the lurch to seek another office while they're still so fresh into their current terms, Perez and Salas send the message that they are SO special, SO fantastic, SO unique that the expense of special elections or the absence of representation for the people they vowed to serve isn't as important as their fantastic fantasticness.

And this is why I say to those choosing between the Democrats, "Stop the madness! Vote Fran Florez!" Some voters in Bakersfield's Ward 1 who are also in the 5th Supervisorial District that bleed into the 16th Senate District are getting a triple whammy of people who promised to represent them and then took it back. At least if Perez fails to survive the primary, it sends the message that she isn't so fantastic and unique. She's a public servant and she needs to keep her commitment to the people of her district who are already on their third supervisor in as many years.

So please join me in my new mantra: "Stop the madness! Vote Fran Florez!"

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