Kern Co. voters have big question: to limit Supervisors – or not?

Term limits could come to the Kern County Board of Supervisors if voters approve Measure J in November. 

Measure J

Term limits could come to the Kern County Board of Supervisors if Measure J passes. 

If approved, supervisors would be limited to two four-year terms. Currently unrestricted, the longest serving supervisor is Mike Maggard, who is retiring after his fourth term expires at the end of the year. 

A coalition of labor and social justice groups pushed the Measure J campaign through the signature gathering process to get it on the November ballot. 

That coalition is called “We Are Kern County,” which argues that the current supervisors are failing the county. 

The coalition argues that the supervisors are complacent, unresponsive and unaccountable without term limits in place. 

The effort to institute term limits follows the redistricting shuffle that took place over the last decade. 

After a lawsuit required the county’s district lines to be redrawn, District 4 Supervisor David Couch, a white man, won reelection in the new Latino-majority district in a 2018 special election. Couch was once again reelected in 2020. 

Regardless of term limits, the supervisors will no longer be allowed to draw their own district lines thanks to a law authored by Asm. Rudy Salas (D–Bakersfield) that creates an independent commission to handle the county’s redistricting. 

Measure K

Passing Measure K would implement a one-cent sales tax in Kern County’s unincorporated areas, increasing the total rate from 7.25 percent to 8.25 percent. 

As such, the county’s unincorporated residents will be the only voters deciding on the measure in November. 

Tax money, which is expected to be $54 million annually, would go toward expanding public services and programs within the unincorporated areas. 

Such services include the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, fire response, road infrastructure and healthcare to help the homeless. 

Voters rejected a similar measure four years ago, but since then the county has experienced declining revenues as the oil industry continues to be hampered by Gov. Gavin Newsom and his administration. 

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