Spotlight on the candidates: Phillip Peters

Kern County 1st District Supervisor candidates discuss issues

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Spotlight on the candidates: Phillip PetersWith our low-density population, remote location and statistically insignificant contributions to county revenue streams, the Indian Wells Valley has developed a historical sense of underrepresentation in a county dominated by oil, agriculture and a center of government located on the other side of a mountain range and populated by a city more than 10 times our size.

For the last 24 years, the Indian Wells Valley residents have enjoyed representation in Kern County’s 1st District by a resident — first Jon McQuiston, then Mick Gleason. However, when the county lost a suit in 2018 against the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which advocated for a second “minority-majority” district, the redistricting process left us with a much larger chunk of Bakersfield residents — squeezing us out as the largest concentration of high-propensity voters. Even before Gleason announced that he had no intention of seeking re-election, residents began speculating that our voice on the five-member Kern County Board of Supervisors could diminish.

Both candidates were offered an opportunity to share their backgrounds, platforms and ties to our community, in order to gain your support at the ballot box.

Absentee ballots went out this week, and polls open Tuesday, March 3.

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“I was born and raised right here in Bakersfield,” said Phillip Peters. He comes from a background in agriculture and oil, is a husband and father and small-business owner — half-owner of William’s Cleaning Service and part owner of Gemaco.

“I’ve always been passionate about serving my community, and I think that being a county supervisor is a good opportunity to continue those efforts.”

Peters said that one of his most significant qualifications for the job is his term, from 2014-18, on the Kern High School Board of Trustees. The board oversees a staff of nearly 4,000 that serves 40,000 students and manages nearly half-a-billion-dollar budget.

“It’s a lot bigger than a small school district,” he noted.

He was prompted to run, Peters said, because “I didn’t like what I was seeing in the oil fields. We are constantly under attack from Sacramento.”

State policies have contributed to driving up crime and homelessness, he said, and put the burden of financial responsibility for solutions on the taxpayers.

“I want to stand up to Sacramento, and for Kern County, to keep this a great place to be.”

He has served in the office of current Supervisor Mick Gleason since 2015.

“Working for the county and having developed relationships with department heads and employees in different branches in all different areas is critical to hitting the ground running when I get elected,” he said.

As Gleason’s district director, he said, he accumulated “a substantial depth” of knowledge in the issues that face the IWV.

He identified the three most critical issues before the 1st District as state overregulation, homelessness and public safety.

“Especially with Sacramento attacks on our natural resources,” he said. “They are calling what we have a ‘homelessness crisis,’ but I think it’s largely a drug epidemic. A lot of that can be traced back to policies in Sacramento.

“And we need to address public safety to make this a safe place to live and work.”

He acknowledged that water is also a concern to IWV residents. “SGMA [State Groundwater Management Act] was a mandate from the state. They declared IWV to be critically overdrafted so we have to, by law, work through the issue.”

Peters said that he was pleased with the development of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan, and that it’s important to have complete and accurate data, as well as equitable implementation.

“I like that fact that we are going to be able to implement it the way we think is best, with all interested parties at the table. If the state implements it, it could be disastrous. The way they handled other things does not inspire faith in the way they handle things.”

Peters has garnered endorsements from Gleason, as well as other top Kern County leaders — including Rep. Kevin McCarthy, State Sen. Shannon Grove, Assemblyman Vince Fong and Sheriff Donny Youngblood.

Local supporters include Mayor Peggy Breeden, Councilman Scott Hayman, Dave Janiec and Chris Ellis.

“I would just like to share that I think I am the best candidate for the job,” said Peters, addressing voters in the Ridgecrest community. “I think I have the most relevant experience. I have the knowledge and the ability and the desire to effect positive change in Kern County, and I would be honored to have their votes.

“I look forward to representing the 1st District and continuing the work I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of for the last few years.”

Story First Published: 2020-02-07