Louis Gill
Recent questions have been raised regarding some of Louis Gill’s campaign funds for this election. (Photo: Louis Gill for Supervisor)

By Melissa A. Nagel, Contributor, Valley Ag Voice

Kern County’s District 3 Supervisor race is heating up and with elections right around the corner in June, it’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top! Kern has three candidates running for the District 3 Supervisor position that is being vacated by Supervisor Mike Maggard who has been in office for 4 terms since his election in June of 2006. Maggard announced in January of 2022 that he would not seek reelection for a 5th term, opening the door for new candidates to run for the position.

District three is one of five districts in Kern County and represents areas covering northwest Bakersfield, Rosedale, Oildale, and east Bakersfield. The three new candidates for the District 3 Supervisor position are Jeff Flores, Brian Smith, and Louis Gill. If you are familiar with Bakersfield or Kern County politics, then these names should look familiar to you. Here is a little more on each candidate and what they have earned so far this year for their Supervisor campaigns committees.

First up is Jeff Flores, current Chief of Staff to Supervisor Mike Maggard, a position he has held since 2010. Mr. Flores has also been a member of the Kern High Board of Trustees since 2014 and will remain on that board through the end of 2024. Flores announced his bid to run for office once Mike Maggard announced his retirement earlier this year. He is already familiar with District three thanks to his time under Supervisor Maggard and is passionate about improving issues with public safety and continuing with Kern’s three phase plan to improve and restore Hart Park under the Hart Park Master Improvement Plan. Mr. Flores has raised more than $94,000 to-date for his Supervisorial campaign.

Moving on, let’s discuss candidate Brian Smith, a retired California Highway Patrol Assistant Chief who is dedicated to keeping the public safe. Smith is also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and has dedicated much of his career to law enforcement and helping to maintain public safety. If successful in his bid for the District 3 Supervisor position, one of Smith’s main goals is to restore the public’s confidence in law enforcement, something that has been lacking in recent years due to many reasons, but most notably, high profile cases in the media. Smith has raised upwards of $96,000 thus far towards his Supervisorial campaign.

Lastly, let’s get to know District 3 Supervisor candidate Louis Gill. Mr. Gill has been active in Bakersfield for many years and is the former CEO of the Bakersfield Homeless Center, as well as the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault. Gill was originally running for office in California’s 23rd Congressional District race against Congressman Kevin McCarthy but decided to transition to a run for third district Supervisor after redistricting went into effect earlier this year. Gill maintains his main motivation for the switch was to continue his dedication to the communities of Kern. Mr. Gill has raised upwards of $75,000 in his campaigning efforts so far this year.

As one can see, all three candidates have done an amazing job raising funds for their respective Supervisorial campaigns and each candidate has a unique view or reason as to why they are running for office and believe that they can make the most impact for citizens living within Kern’s third district.

However, recent questions have been raised regarding some candidate’s campaign funds that are being used for this election. Specifically, the question of whether candidate Louis Gill may have transferred some funds from his Congressional campaign bid to his bid for third district Supervisor. Kern County’s Measure K stipulates that no more than $3,000 in funds can be transferred from a federal campaign to a local campaign, a number that appears to have been exceeded according to financial reports listed on KernVote.com.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with concerned citizen and local educator Paul Stine regarding this matter. According to Mr. Stine, the main concern here is that Louis Gill may have “Raised his money improperly and not in adherence to Measure K. He should have refunded that money to the donors and asked them to reissue checks to his county campaign committee.” This violation of Measure K raises questions of a possible unfair advantage in the upcoming election and raises some concern for those who are following the election closely.

A formal complaint has been filed with the Kern County District Attorney’s office under Measure K’s 2.130.150 Administrative Actions stipulations. According to Stine, the goal here is not to alienate any candidate or to take away from the good that they have done and will do in the future for Kern County. But rather, to ensure that laws are being followed consistently and enforced equitably to ensure a fair election for all.

The election for Kern County District 3 Supervisor takes place on June 7, 2022. Make sure you are registered vote, either by Absentee Ballot or in person at your local poll. For more information regarding the election and candidates please visit KernVote.com.

(Financial totals are referenced from 5/18/2022)