Let’s Choose Integrity

“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?”

— James Madison, The Federalist Papers

With absentee ballots finding their ways into local mailboxes this week, voters already have before them an opportunity to help shape policy on state measures and cast support for leadership at every level of government.

While raging partisanship and sound-byte governance can sometimes make this feel like a chore, it is indeed an opportunity — one that will perhaps define whether we sink or swim as a community and as a nation.

This week we continue to spotlight candidates in the local races in hopes of providing the voters a chance to glimpse the motivations, goals and visions of the men and women who are offering themselves up for public service. If our government is a reflection of us, please consider carefully the aspects of our characters that can most adeptly navigate us through our current fiscal and social challenges.

Time and time again we have seen our community come together in crisis. If we collectively engage — taking the time to research the candidates and issues, taking the action to vote and taking our responsibility to hold our leaders accountable once they are sworn into office — we have an opportunity not only to survive the challenging road ahead but also to come out stronger on the other side.

We believe that the contest for Kern County 1st District Supervisor is one case where that choice in leadership is particularly clear.

On the one hand we have Roy Ashburn — Bakersfield career politician who has never worked outside of politics, admitted to turning his back on voters during his 14 years in the state legislature and left that office in disgrace after being arrested for drunk driving in his state-owned vehicle. Fortunately for him, his 2009 vote against his constituents to raise taxes earned him a lucrative seat on a state oversight board. But now that his board is on the chopping block, he is looking for a job again. After terming out of state government and losing two bids for Congress, he has set his sights back on the supervisor race.

Opposing him is Ridgecrest resident Mick Gleason — a military veteran, pilot, engineer and former commanding officer of the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake who fell in love with our community and decided to make his home here upon retirement. Since then he has been an active leader in countless civic organizations and a lobbyist on the national scene on behalf of China Lake.

Disappointingly, many of our county’s media organizations — and even some of our own city politicians — have fallen in behind Ashburn, citing his previous experience as supervisor as the primary qualifying factor. Meanwhile, Ashburn's supporters seem to blindly gloss over the fact that Gleason executed similar tasks in managing the natural and human resources of a vast economic engine with diverse interests and contributions.

Perhaps we don’t need another professional politician, but a proven leader with the integrity to do the right thing even when no one is watching. As we exercise the right to choose how our leadership will reflect us, let us choose wisely.

Story First Published: 2012-10-03