Scott Garver

Spotlight on the Candidate: Ridgecrest City Council

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Scott Garver “My goal in running for City Council is simple — I want to protect Measure L funds,” said Scott Garver, who pulled his candidacy papers and filed on the very last day possible.

He applied to be a member of the citizens’ oversight board tasked with ensuring funds of the June initiative were spent as promised — on police and streets.

“This was not some grand plan to parlay into candidacy. But what ended up happening was I started to get this feeling that we were not being taken very seriously in our roles. I didn’t feel that we were being welcomed into the fold, or encouraged to look at things very carefully.”

He recalled sitting in that meeting, taking in information and trying to define in his own mind what that role was. “I knew we were to voice if the money was not spent as our council promised. What I didn’t know was what the remedy would be if it was not.”

After getting the impression that the staff and council looked at the committee as impotent, he concluded that proponents should have a voice on the council itself.

Garver said that he was frustrated by the lack of transparency in the budget process.

“I think that the city should have passed a lean budget that did not count on any funds from Measure L. Then, when it passed, Measure L would have simply been an overlay to go toward what it was promised for. Instead, they came back and put money back in to fund the lobbyist and staff raises. That is not how it was sold.”

He said one of the important efforts of the Measure L committee was that of understanding the baseline revenues historically dedicated to streets and police. “What you want to see is Measure L funds coming in on top of the current expenditures. You don’t want them to cut spending in those areas, use Measure L money to backfill, and then use that savings in the general fund to go elsewhere.”

He said his primary concern is having a robust police department.

“My car rattles down the same streets as everyone else’s, so I don’t claim any unique insight on that point,” he said.

But as Kern County deputy district attorney for Ridgecrest, he sees the need to support police officers — especially in light of how realignment has given them a bigger task with no funding support.

“Our cases are getting more and more serious,” he said. He noted it is much more difficult to uproot problems with gangs, drugs and violent crimes than it is to keep them from getting a foothold. “The problem is we do have gang members here, but our officers keep them from forming into gangs.”

He praised Chief Ron Strand and his department for their work in identifying and monitoring the known criminals.

“But to do that, you need boots on the ground. I don’t know if our resident-to-officer ratio is high or low, but I do know that we are very isolated. If we need help fast, it has to come from here.”

He said the city is doing a good job with what it has, “but it would do better with more.”

Garver moved here 14 years ago after he got out of the Navy. He attended Cerro Coso while working full time, then commuted to UCLA for two years. During that time he spent a quarter interning at Sen. Barbara Boxer’s office in Washington, D.C. After that he got into Southwestern Law School.

“Unfortunately, that was too far to commute,” he said, noting that his wife, Emily, stayed here during that time.

He passed the bar the first time he took it in 2006 and started working for the D.A. later that year. Six years later he is the deputy D.A. and has two daughters.

“I think accountability is what should define this election. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we just need to rebuild trust and credibility with the public.”

Story First Published: 2012-10-10