Bakersfield · Politics

Hefty battle shaping up for soon-to-be vacant Kern Co. Supervisor seat

2022 is sure to deliver a change of scenery on the dais of the Kern County Board of Supervisors. But first: a highly-competitive race for an open seat.

Kicking off the year, longtime Kern County Supervisor Mike Maggard announced he wouldn’t seek re-election to his eastern Kern County district in June.

The announcement, which is the second such retirement in as many election cycles on the panel, has touched off a likely battle to replace him.

Shortly after the announcement, Jeff Flores, Maggard’s chief of staff and Kern High School District school board trustee, announced his intent to replace his boss.

With the announcement, Flores is aiming to follow the successful route of freshman Kern County Supervisor Phillip Peters, who was a staffer for his predecessor before being elected in 2020.

Flores is expected to formally launch his campaign on Tuesday, per reports in Bakersfield.

Last week, former California Highway Patrol Assistant Chief Brian Smith announced his candidacy for Maggard’s seat.

Smith, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, announced his candidacy leaning on the backing of law enforcement leaders in the Golden Empire. Per a report from The Bakersfield Californian, Smith earned the plaudits of Arvin Police Chief Eddie Brock during his campaign announcement.

Both Smith and Flores have furiously worked to court backing in anticipation for Maggard’s retirement. Yet, the race is unlikely to remain much of a two-man race.

One day after Maggard’s announcement, Louis Gill, the former CEO of Bethany Services, Inc., suspended his long-shot bid to oust House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield) and would instead run to replace Maggard.

The primary election for the seat is June 7. If a candidate captures an outright majority, they would be duly elected. If no candidate musters a majority, the top two finishers will continue to the November general election.

Reid Stone is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.