Watson Keeps His Seat in Supervisor Race

  • Clockwise, from top left: Don Tait, Supervisor Ray Watson, Supervisor Candidate Cliff Thompson, Barbara Edsall

    Clockwise, from top left: Don Tait, Supervisor Ray Watson, Supervisor Candidate Cliff Thompson, Barbara Edsall

By Patric Hedlund

FRAZIER PARK, Calif., June 3, 2008 — Ray Watson, the only member of the Kern County Board of Supervisors who faced a challenger this election year, kept his seat Tuesday as supervisor of the fourth district after a vigorous contest mounted by Taft City Councilmember Cliff Thompson.

Thompson took a fairly impressive 41.84 percent of the votes, at 8,005. Watson won 11,064 votes or 57.83 percent.
The challenger (who describes himself as a conservative) secured endorsements from State Senator Dean Florez (D-Shafter), an array of public employee unions (including Taft prison guards and law enforcement). Rural residents protesting Watson’s views regarding services to outlying areas of this large district worked for him. Runaway development, roads, air quality and emergency medical services are specific concerns listed by rural voters who planted “Vote for Cliff Thompson” signs in their yards.

Thompson hoped to take the full 37% of district four voters who live in rural areas and then cut into the Bakersfield urban base. Watson ran a solid wall of television advertisements on Bakersfield stations in the last days of the campaign. He leveraged his incumbency by bringing long-needed benefits to rural regions including a grant of $275,000 to the Frazier Park Public Utility District to repair crumbling pipes, a commitment of $3.2 million for a fire station promised to Pine Mountain for thirty years and a ‘straw poll’ about emergency medical care.

The final results were:

Completed Precincts: 101 of 101
VOTE COUNT
PERCENTAGE

RAY WATSON

11064

57.83%

CLIFF THOMPSON

8005

41.84%

FRAZIER PARK, Calif., May 30, 2008 — The District Four seat on the Kern County Board of Supervisors comes up for election every four years. On June 3, voters will be able to go to the polls and elect the next supervisor for our Mountain Communities (this is the final election, there is no spot for a supervisor run-off on the November general election ballot)..

The upcoming four years, from 2008 through 2012 will define the entire future for this region. With all this at stake, it is not surprising that the political activity on the mountain this year has been vivid. There are more signs sprouting from more front yards than many can remember seeing before. Here are statements from two mountain residents, explaining their reason for the choice each will make when they vote on June 3.

A Vote for Supervisor Ray Watson
By Don Tait

I have owned property in Frazier Park for over half a century and naturally have seen growth in the area and some changes in town.

Fifty years ago Mt. Pinos Way was then called Brand Boulevard. There was no Frazier Mountain Park Road and no Pine Mountain Club. There was a dry swimming pool somewhere around the local museum. The post office was opposite Alpine Lumber. The Western Village Motel (also called Holiday Manor at the time) was originally four units, until my father-in-law made four more units out of the garages. There has been change through the years, but the general image of Frazier Park has remained pretty much the same…not the greatest.

During all those years, we—our Mountain Communities and the huge Fourth District of Kern County—have been represented by many supervisors. I remember five: Vance Webb, Trice Harvey, Karl Hettinger, Ken Peterson and Ray Watson. All executed their positions with diligence, but to my recollection none of those supervisors was as personally interested and dedicated to improving the appearance, image and economy of Frazier Park and environs as our present Supervisor, Ray Watson.

I remember well a talk he gave to our townsfolk shortly after he took office in his first term. In his closing remarks Supervisor Watson advised the citizens to get involved in community affairs, otherwise a nucleus of activists, sometimes with altruistic motives, sometimes with agendas, will assume the role as spokespersons for the community.

Those are my words, but it was Supervisor Watson’s thoughts. In effect he was saying that if people don’t get involved, the tail could be wagging the dog.

This situation, of course, is not unique to Frazier Park; it applies to all small towns. While the majority of citizens are busy keeping a roof over their heads (I see them mornings, sometimes as early as 4 a.m. heading down Frazier Mountain Park Road to their jobs), often returning too tired to attend town hall meetings, only to wake up and find that "The Town" has expressed its views on a number of situations. But that’s democracy in action. You more perspicacious readers (try that on O’Reilly) will note a political slant to this—and so it is.

I firmly believe that at least some of the accomplishments of our incumbent Supervisor, Ray Watson, should be brought to the attention of our Mountain Communities. Space does not allow me to enumerate what he has done for other towns, such as Pine Mountain, Taft and Wasco, so I will confine it to Frazier Park:

  1. Secured $600,000 of Federal funds for the streetscape project throughingenuity and persistence. Our new town will look great.
  2. Provided $275,000 to Frazier Park Public Utility District to helpreplace deteriorated pipes, so the beautification project could move ahead.
  3. Worked with Family Resource Center to get skate facility for our youth.
  4. Got architectural help for Cody Prosser memorial.
  5. Assisted in getting $6,000,000 for construction of the new librarybuilding in town.
  6. Helped fund the visitor kiosk with a touch screen visitor informationsystem.
  7. Set up a system to remove abandoned cars from the area.
  8. Pursued restoration of Cuddy Creek with walking paths, pending funding.

Our Supervisor talks softly, but carries a big stick and gets things done. We are no longer the forgotten town on the edge of Kern County. With so many great improvements on the brink, or in the pipeline, it would be foolish and perilous to risk changing supervisors at this time. We are going to be able to say with pride: "I live in Frazier Park."

I feel that Supervior Watson wants to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negativism that seems to permeate our town. Being fair and balanced, I hope and trust we will also be reading about the merits and accomplishments of the other candidate, Mr. Cliff Thompson, so we can make informed decisions on Election Day.

A Vote for Supervisor Cliff Thompson
By Barbara Edsall

There’s a new attitude and outlook in town: the attitude that everyone deserves to be listened to with respect and genuine attention, and the outlook that positive change can come to our community with participation open to all.

The air has been charged with hope and optimism. We call it ‘The Cliff Effect’—diverse elements coming together to elect Cliff Thompson as 4th District County Supervisor.

Attendees at two events presented by Thompson’s local supporters know The Cliff effect. It stems partly from applying Cathy Palla’s statement: "the people’s business should be conducted in public." Both events were public, but there’s more to the Cliff effect. A small working group of Cliff’s supporters meets weekly in a public place. At every "Cliff event," Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, different races, religions and ethnicities gather in friendliness and respect, desiring to work together to meet the challenges of the future.

How to explain this? After all, Cliff Thompson is just a guy. If elected, he’ll be one of five Supervisors. Cliff can’t fix everything in our community, and at this time of budget crisis, the Supervisors will face especially hard choices.

Still, one explanation is Cliff’s solid record and approach to public service. He seeks to serve the community, not be served by it.

Cliff has been a proactive city council member and mayor of Taft, understanding the needs of an "outlying area." He was instrumental in providing proper equipment, vehicles and competitive salaries to the Taft Police Department, and shutting down (sometimes even demolishing) crack houses. Taft now has the lowest violent crime rate in Kern County.

Cliff has worked productively with the business community. With his leadership Taft has gone from a "ghost town" to a town on its way up. Cliff worked tirelessly and successfully to improve the safety of Highway 119 and to lower the high fatality rate on that road. He worked "across the aisle," with all factions.

Perhaps best of all, a Taft father of a grade-school daughter recalled Cliff attending a tree planting at her school and how much it meant to his daughter. Cliff helped get the Taft post office named after veteran Larry Pierce, the only Medal of Valor winner in Kern County. No wonder local supporter Frances Durocher, not only concerned about her own community, wants "Cliff’s accomplishments in Taft to spread to the whole Fourth District."

Cliff has spent much time in the Frazier Mountain communities in the last three months. He has come to appreciate our community and understand its challenges. He supported the firefighter/paramedic pilot program in Pine Mountain—unfortunately disapproved by the incumbent Supervisor, Mr. Watson. Cliff is committed to "controlled growth" that doesn’t harm existing communities. He supports the formation of a Municipal Advisory Council, a form of local government that has enhanced the quality of life in Rosamond. This has been presented to Mr. Watson, who refuses to pursue it.

Cliff’s diverse endorsements reflect his ability to work with everyone, to better his community. Locally, he has been endorsed by conservatives, liberals and everything in between. The trust Cliff engenders enables his diverse supporters to trust one another and work together, being able to agree to disagree on other issues "Off the Hill."

Cliff’s endorsements include former Sheriff Mack Wimbish and Chevy Garza (formerly of the Sheriff’s Department), State Senator Dean Florez, Dolores Huerta, SEIU (the 9,000-member Service Employees International Union), the Taft Police Officers Association and the Taft Community Correctional Facility Officers.

Cliff’s local supporters have worked hard to present this worthy candidate to the community. Please read, ask questions, and evaluate for yourself.

We hope you will find that Cliff Thompson deserves your support and your vote on June 3.

We need Supervisor Cliff Thompson for our future.

This is part of the May 30, 2008 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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