Gleason will not seek third supervisor term

MALDEF redistricting could mean no more Ridgecrest-based supervisors

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Gleason will not seek third supervisor termKern County 1st District Supervisor Mick Gleason confirmed this week that he will not seek a third term at the end of 2020.

However, he said he will stay in Ridgecrest. “I’m not going anywhere.“I was enjoying the job completely. Things are going really well. I’ve enjoyed watching the changes in Kern County. We are a significantly better organization than we were before.”

However, he added, he wants to focus on his family. “I’m going to take care of [wife] Robynn, my kids and my grandkids. And I’m sure there will be stuff here I can do to contribute to the community, and I’m looking forward to that, too.”

With the end of Gleason’s final term, Ridgecrest residents are speculating on chances of a local person winning the 1st District seat again.

Since Jon McQuiston, another Ridgecrest resident and former China Laker, took office in 1996, the seat has been held by an IWV resident. After McQuiston’s four terms, Gleason launched his campaign for the 2012 election against an unprecedented seven contenders. After a heated race, he came in first in the pack after the primary election that June. He handily beat Roy Ashburn of Bakersfield — who held the seat from 1984-96 — with 58 percent of the vote in the November General Election.

Although Ridgecrest was not the largest population center of the 1st District, even in 2012, it had the highest concentration of high-propensity voters. Gleason won his second term in 2016, when he ran unopposed.

However, in 2018, Kern County was sued by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. The advocacy group claimed that present supervisorial boundaries disenfranchised the high number of Latin Americans living in Kern County.

While the 5th District was represented by Latina attorney Leticia Perez, MALDEF sued for a second “minority-majority” district. A judge agreed with their cause and directed the county to come to terms with MALDEF to redraw districts to increase the chance of Hispanic residents electing a “minority” candidate in two districts.

The two parties came to an agreement, but the results of the 2018 suit saw incumbents — including 4th District Supervisor David Couch, whose district demographics gained a significant number of Latin American residents — winning re-election.

With that redistricting, the 1st District demographics also shifted significantly, so that lower-propensity voters in cities like Delano and McFarland were lost in exchange for a greater portion of the Bakersfield metropolitan area.

Gleason himself acknowledged that this shift makes it an uphill battle for any Ridgecrest residents running for that seat.

“It’s going to be difficult,” he said. “The math just works against us.

“The reasons it worked in our favor before was because Ridgecrest is a high-propensity voting bloc. There are significantly more high-propensity votes coming out of West Rosedale than in Ridgecrest. That is going to be a challenge for a local candidate.”

While several names — both political and nonpolitical — have begun circulating as potential candidates for the race, only one had officially declared his candidacy to the News Review by press time.

“My community, and the need for strong leadership, is what compels me to consider a run for public office,” former county department head Dick Taylor responded to News Review inquiries.

Watch future editions for the full interview.

Gleason did not say who, or if, he was planning to endorse as a candidate for the seat. “I don’t know, I would have to talk with Dick before I could do anything. I think there are other contenders who are interesting also.”

Pictured: Supervisor Mick Gleason at a recent local meeting

Story First Published: 2019-10-04