Tentative agreement preserves two East Kern County supervisors

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Tentative agreement preserves  two East Kern County supervisorsRidgecrest, located in the northeastern quadrant of Kern County, remains in a slightly reconfigured District 1, represented by Supervisor Mick Gleason. — Courtesy graphic

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A tentative agreement between Kern County and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund appears to have preserved two East Kern districts while appeasing a court ruling to uphold the Voters Rights Act and create a second “minority majority” district.

MALDEF sued the county on the grounds that the 2011 redistricting process, which rebalanced supervisorial districts to reflect population changes indicated in the 2010 census, disenfranchised Latino voters.

Judge Dale Drozd of the U.S. District Court in Fresno released his findings in February, directing the parties to negotiate a solution at a March 28 settlement conference.

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 (with one abstention) to approve the compromise. The agreement is awaiting official approval from the courts, but county officials believe at this point that is a formality.

“Judge Drozd has yet to give this the final OK, but I’m fairly confident he will soon,” said Kern County 1st District Supervisor Mick Gleason, whose district still includes Ridgecrest.

Gleason has gone on record with his concern that the outcome was ultimately directed by a single person. Because of the court ruling, the process excluded much of the typical public participation, and the negotiations were conducted behind closed doors.

“I’m hopeful that the lines that were redrawn satisfy [the judge’s] mandate,” said Gleason. “Fortunately, East Kern retained two votes. I would not have voted for anything else.”

Story First Published: 2018-04-06