This report aims to discuss a Kern County Board of Supervisors meeting that occurred on March 23, 2020, at 1115 Truxtun Avenue, Bakersfield, California. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the meeting was not physically open to the public but was broadcast online.
Analysis of Elected Officials
The Kern County Board of Supervisors consists of five members, each responsible for one of the five districts of Kern County. Phillip Peters is the chairman of the board, representing District 1. Peters is a white man, nonpartisan, who was elected to the board in March 2020. Zack Scrivner is a supervisor on the board, representing District 2. He is a white man elected to the board in 2010, and his current term ends in 2022. Mike Maggard is a supervisor of the board, representing District 3. He is a nonpartisan white man elected to the board in June 2006. Another supervisor is David Couch, representing District 4. The couch is a nonpartisan white man who assumed his office on the board in 2013. Leticia Perez is the last supervisor of the board, representing District 5. She is a nonpartisan Hispanic woman who assumed her office on the board in 2013. Unfortunately, the information about the age of these elected officials is not available.
The audience of the board is the population of Kern County, which is estimated to be 900,202 people as of 2019 (US Census Bureau, n.d.). The population of the county comprises 48.8% of women and 51.2% of men (US Census Bureau, n.d.). As for the race, the county population consists of 82.3% whites, 6.3% African Americans, 5.4% Asians, and 2.6% American Indians and Alaska Natives (US Census Bureau, n.d.).
The meeting began with a flag salute led by Perez. After that, the chairmen announced the consent agenda, which was a list of routine items that could be approved in one action. When the consent agenda was heard, the board listened to the only public comment, and the chairman asked supervisors whether they wanted to remove any of the mentioned items. No one expressed such a wish, so Scrivner made a motion on consent, and Perez seconded the motion. Afterward, the board began voting, during which each board member entered his/her vote in their computer, and when all votes were entered, the results of the voting appeared on the screen. Since all votes were ayes, all resolutions and proclamations included in the consent agenda were approved. So, it may be concluded that the voting procedure includes the announcement of the issue, listening to public comments and supervisors’ questions and comments, making a motion and seconding the motion, and voting. Based on the voting results, the chairman makes an approval decision.
Summary of One Issue
One issue discussed at the meeting was the proposed reorganization of the Fire Prevention Division according to the recommendations of the Center for Public Safety Management. A fire marshal for the county Fire Department provided an overview of the plan for the reorganization of the Fire Prevention Division to improve customer service responsiveness and effectiveness and reduce risks for the community (Official Kern County, 2021). He reported that the division suffered from the problem of limited staffing against a backdrop of increased service demand and an increased workload from overseeing the hazard reduction program. Further, he proposed a three-step plan to address this issue by eliminating some positions and reassigning and adding others. As a result of this plan implementation, the division would have a specialized workforce, the ability to perform more inspections, and the available personnel focused on response obligations. The board approved this proposed reorganization.
Based on my experience at the meeting, I concluded that the board dealt well with the issues brought to them. Most of the meeting was devoted to the issue of vaccination, which is justified since it is currently the most vital question. It was good to see that supervisors asked questions brought to them by ordinary people, meaning that they cared about those who elected them. However, as I understand, the board does not develop the solutions to the problem itself; rather, it approves or disapproves of the solutions proposed by other people.
Official Kern County. Kern County Board of Supervisors 9:00 a.m. meeting for Tuesday, March 23, 2021 [Video]. YouTube.
US Census Bureau. (n.d.). Quick facts: Kern County, California. Web.