Roy Ashburn’s staff said Thursday’s announcement would be a game changer.
And true to their promise, in walked former Congressman Bill Thomas into the Bell Tower Club with First District Supervisor Jon McQuiston, flanked by some of the biggest political names in Kern County.
Thomas didn’t mince words in coming out with his support of Ashburn to succeed McQuiston as supervisor.
“I think he wants, I think he deserves an opportunity to be the First District Supervisor,” Thomas said.
Ashburn said at the end of the press conference that he was humbled to receive the support of Thomas, McQuiston and the other officials who came out on Thursday.
Roy Ashburn’s staff said Thursday’s announcement would be a game changer. And true to their promise, in walked former Congressman Bill Thomas into the Bell Tower Club with First District Supervisor Jon McQuiston, flanked by some of the biggest political names in Kern County. Thomas didn’t mince words in coming out with his support of Ashburn to succeed McQuiston as supervisor. “I think he wants, I think he deserves an opportunity to be the First District Supervisor,” Thomas said. Ashburn said at the end of the press conference that he was humbled to receive the support of Thomas, McQuiston and the other officials who came out on Thursday. The endorsement apparently ends a long-standing feud between Ashburn and Thomas that went on for a number of years. Ashburn had served as an aide to Thomas, but later the two had a disagreement and hadn’t spoken to each other. The calming of hostilities marks the biggest endorsement Ashburn has received to date as a bipartisan group is beginning to line up behind the former supervisor, assemblyman and state senator. McQuiston — joining Thomas and former county supervisors Barbara Patrick and Steve Perez, Fourth District Supervisor-elect David Couch and former Bakersfield Mayor Mary K. Shell — said Ashburn was the right person at this moment to take over the seat he is retiring from at the end of his term. “He is the right candidate, at the right time, for the right reasons to lead as supervisor seat for Kern County. I would like to invite the public in joining me in supporting Roy Ashburn,” McQuiston said. McQuiston called the diversity within the First District a microcosm of the nation as a whole, going from the defense-oriented community in the Indian Wells Valley, the tourism community of the Kern River Valley, the oil production east of Bakersfield and finally the agriculture of the Delano-McFarland region. The endorsements join a long list of public officials who are lining up behind Ashburn. Locally, Ashburn has secured the endorsement of four out of the five council members, including Mayor Ron Carter. Over the hill, he has picked up nods from the mayors of Delano and McFarland as well as council members in both those cities. He has also received the backing of five of the six candidates who previously ran against him in the primary, but didn’t receive enough votes to move on in June. Ashburn’s opponent in the race, retired Navy captain and former commanding officer of NAWS China Lake Mick Gleason, said he wasn’t sure what the endorsement meant for the race, but congratulated Ashburn on receiving his endorsements. “Roy is a career politician,” Gleason said. “He has a lot of relationships that he’s built over 30 years.” Gleason, meanwhile, has secured the backing of the two state officials representing the Indian Wells Valley — Shannon Grove and Jean Fuller — he also has the support of Congressman Kevin McCarthy, Thomas’ successor in Washington. Gleason said he is focused on gaining his own backing from people to help him win the election, and is less concerned with Ashburn’s ability to garner support from people he’s worked with as an elected official. He added he was more focused on Ashburn’s backing from various groups including unions. “I’m more concerned with his new relationships than his old ones,” Gleason said. Thomas said there were three key reasons why he was backing Ashburn over Gleason. First is Ashburn’s knowledge of the complexity and diversity of the First District. “I know, and these folks behind be know, how difficult it is to represent an east-west county in a north-south state,” Thomas said. “Just to begin with, a lot of our concerns run counter to what the state, and to some extent the nation, looks for in California. So we have to have people who understand that going into the (supervisors) race.” Next was the economy. “We are in a significant and dynamic growth period, much more so than the rest of California. We have been in a sustained growth period for some time,” Thomas said. But at the same time, unemployment in Kern County, especially around the agricultural regions is significantly higher that the rest of the state and the country. “I can tell you in my 16 years on the board, because of the economy and the issues with the state, the challenges we’re facing are more complex, more numerous and they create a greater potential impact than I can recall from previous years on the board,” McQuiston said. “We all know businesses and families are struggling, and we know decisions made on this board and in Sacramento will have direct, consequential impacts on the citizens of Kern County.” Finally, Thomas said the election was critical because of how many new supervisors are coming on board this term. He said for the first time in 100 years, there were three new people elected, including two who won their seats in June and avoided a run off. Thomas said he didn’t believe leadership should be viewed as the President Theodore Roosevelt model, with the former president charging up San Juan Hill atop a horse with sword drawn in the Spanish-American War. Instead, Thomas said, leadership needs to be seen as someone who “gets it done behind the troops and pushes them up San Juan Hill.” Through the press conference, Ashburn’s leadership was highlighted by those who spoke, including by Shell who had worked with Ashburn for a long time. Shell in giving her support said from working with Ashburn for 12 years on the county level, she saw someone who cared for the constituents of the district and “put more miles on his car than anybody in Kern County when he was serving.” “The people of Kern County and the First District will benefit from Roy being on the board of supervisors,” Shell said. Fourth District Supervisor-elect David Couch said he knows Ashburn loves working as supervisor and when someone loves their job, he said, they want to be there and they will be fruitful in it. “He has everything that I believe you look for in a board member and I know he will be a tremendous asset to the First District. He will be a tremendous asset to me and the other members of the board,” Couch said. Ashburn concluded the prepared remarks by reasserting his dedication to the people in the county and the First District. “Not only do I know and care deeply for the people of my district in the county, but I will also be aggressive and without hesitation in fighting for the people of Kern County to make sure our voice is heard in Sacramento,” Ashburn said.