Thursday, November 8, 2018

Andy Vidak's defeat is a stunner from election night, someone needs to snatch up Michael Bowers, voters choose experience over tribalism in electing David Couch and a mother-daughter team starts a new business

Friday, November 9, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special place to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... ELECTIONS: The biggest surprise (for me at least) on election night was the defeat of state
Sen. Andy Vidak. Vidak lost to a Democrat from Sanger named Melissa Hurtado, who to my knowledge never campaigned in Kern County. Vidak's defeat will also mean his Kern County aide, Michael Bowers, will be out of a job. Bowers is one of the most personally dynamic people I have met in a long time, and I suspect it won't take long for him to find a new gig.

 * ... DAVID COUCH: I was also heartened to see that Supervisor David Couch won reelection to his newly redrawn 4th District, where Hispanics comprise almost 68 percent of the population. Few public servants work harder than Couch, and I was glad to see that experience trumped tribalism in the 4th District. Running second was Delano Mayor Grace Vallejo, also a solid public servant but a candidate who was simply outworked in this race.

 * ... MARIJUANA: Now that Kern County voters have rejected three measures to regulate the sale of medical marijuana, it looks like the 20-something dispensaries that remain open will be closing before the end of the year. That's bad news for folks who rely on medicinal cannabis to treat anxiety, pain or sleep disorders, who will soon be driving to Arvin where its sale and distribution has been approved. No word on when the first dispensaries in Arvin will open.

 * ... LOVE AND CHEESE: I was at the Crash Lounge the other day when I ran into a mother-daughter couple who have started an impressive new business. It's called Love & Cheese and it features custom made cheese and veggie trays that are nothing short of amazing. Lisa Miller, the mother, is in business with her two daughters, Heather Ahlf and Victoria Stockman. Check the photos of their products and if interested, give them a call at (661) 444-1506.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "How many different animals did we have to jump on the backs of before we discovered horses were cool with it?"

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree years ago."

 * ... LEAVING CALIFORNIA: This popped up on the internet the other day. Ain't it the truth.

 * ... MEMORIES: I found this picture on the Kern County Historical Society Facebook page with this caption: "In 1918, a photograph was taken on the steps of the Kern County Court House in Bakersfield. On the front steps stand the men that had returned home from 'over there.' Behind these servicemen stand the veterans of the American Civil War. No further proof required -- Kern County supports its veterans."

Sunday, November 4, 2018

In just a few short hours we will all be voting. Watching the Latino turnout, Couch and Maggard fight for their jobs and Providence Strategic Consulting throws a soiree

Monday, November 5, 2018

 Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this such a special to live. Send your news tips to

If you are into local politics as I am, you will be watching the outcome of a slew of hot local races on Tuesday. But forget about the national implications for a second and remember the old refrain: all politics are local. So first, keep an eye on the Latino turnout, and if they swing
Democratic (as expected) or Republican. That no doubt will play out in the 4th Supervisor District where David Couch is vying for reelection. In the 3rd District, can Mike Maggard fend off Jeff Heinle, and in the Assembly, can incumbent Rudy Salas contend with challenger Justin Mendes? (By the way this is a race in which both candidates will spend a combined total of around $3 million). And then there are the twin sales tax issues for both the city and the county, the dueling marijuana initiatives and Prop 6 which seeks to repeal the gas tax. It will be a full few days and we will watch the results.

 * ... BIG QUESTIONS: One of the things to look for Tuesday: are we seeing the end of the "old guard" in Kern County because of demographic shifts in the electorate? Can you image if both David Couch and Mike Maggard were defeated on the Board of Supervisors? If Grace Vallejo beats Couch walking away, what does that say about the emerging strength of the Latino vote in Kern County? And are the Latinos a lock for the Democrats? Justin Mendes is a formidable candidate against Assemblyman Rudy Salas, but does he have enough support to push him past Salas and his deep campaign coffers? Even the down ballot race for an open seat on the Kern High School District raises important issues. Bryan Colebrook, backed by Cathy Abernathy's Western Pacific Research, fumbled badly in implying his opponent Jenifer Pitcher was not qualified because she is single and has no children. Will the vaunted Abernathy machine be able to push him past the finish line?

 * ...GAVIN NEWSOM: Have you seen pictures of the truck following the Gavin Newsom bus around the state? Check it out here:

 * ... PROVIDENCE CONSULTING: I ran into CASA's Colleen McGauley at the annual soiree that Providence Strategic Consulting put on at The Mark restaurant. Providence owner Tracy Leach always puts on a good show, providing an excellent opportunity to network and catch up with old (and new) friends. McGauley was there, and we had a chance to talk about her decision to leave CASA after 17 years. She said it was her call to step aside, citing how large and involved the organization had grown over the years. She will no doubt remain in the non-profit world, and when she lands a new job, we will report it here. Others I spotted there were Kevin Burton, Holly Arnold, Rick Kreiser, David Couch, Perry Finzel, Barry Zoeller, Cindy Pollard, Beatris Espericueta Sanders, Derek Jeffery and so many more.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "You know it's a big game day when your husband walks in the bedroom at 10 a.m. and nonchalantly says, 'Wanna beer?'"

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Life is short. Make sure you spent most of your time arguing about politics with strangers on the internet."

 * ... ART IN THE PARK: Sometimes it is the small things that uplift us. That's how I felt when I saw so many of the electrical and power boxes along Panorama Park painted by local artists, a brilliant move that enlivens the area and deters graffiti artists. Supervisor Mike Maggard teamed up with local artist David Gordon of the Arts Council of Kern to have artists do the painting. Panorama Park now has "art in the park" so to speak.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this grainy old photo of the mouth of the canyon when it was just a dirt road, compliments of the Facebook page Kern County of Old.