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Letter sent to the Kern County Board of Supervisors on redistricting

Mojave Chamber of Commerce

 

November 20, 2021



Dear Chairman Peters and Supervisors:

The Mojave Chamber of Commerce asks that you approve Draft Plan A as the revised map of Kern County Supervisors’ districts required by the decennial redistricting mandate.

We ask this because we believe that this proposal best represents the interests of Mojave and the communities of Eastern Kern County.

Every ten years a proposal to include all of eastern Kern into one huge district is proposed, replacing the current two districts which recognize the unique features of southeastern and northeastern Kern County.

Those of us who live, work and pay taxes in this region understand that the desert areas of Kern contain unique characteristics that define each of our communities. From Ridgecrest in the northeastern portion of Kern County, to Rosamond in southeastern Kern County near the Los Angeles County line, to all the unique desert communities in between such as California City, Mojave, Boron and North Edwards, among others, several exceptional qualities exist in this vast desert landscape.

The China Lake Naval Weapons Station in District 1 is the backbone of Ridgecrest and the Indian Wells Valley, and its high-tech workforce. The level of engagement required by a county supervisor to understand this mission-critical military base and the complexities of rebuilding due to earthquakes with $4 billion in federal funding cannot be overstated.

Further south in District 2, the Air Force Test Center and NASA/Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, and the Mojave Air and Space Port, America’s first commercial spaceport, require an equal level of focus and engagement from a single supervisor. Dedicated knowledge and engagement are essential to adequately represent their interests, which include being a leader in advanced aircraft flight testing, rocket propulsion, and space technology development, commercialization, and access.

Most importantly, representation by two county supervisors in East Kern is vital when it comes to future rounds of the federal Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. A single supervisor representing both military bases could be thrust into a situation of competing interests in the BRAC process by not allowing separate representation and advocacy for each base. Separate representation of each base could be vital to the successful future of both.

And it’s not just aerospace and defense in East Kern’s desert.

The desert communities of District 2 also include mining operations by Rio Tinto Minerals, Soledad Mountain Mining, three cement plants, large scale wind and solar operations, and distinct recreational activities that annually attract thousands of visitors to the region.

Although these are just a few examples of the great diversity in East Kern, these differences are no less distinctive than comparing East Bakersfield to Northwest Bakersfield, which understandably have separate supervisorial representation in those urban areas. We should expect no less for East Kern.

Additionally, agriculture is a key characteristic that supports much of Tehachapi’s economy and residents, including its world-famous apple orchards, award-winning vineyards and ideal landscape for livestock. Coupled with Tehachapi’s exceptional wind energy resources and a state prison that employs hundreds, there is a distinct difference from the Kern River Valley’s reliance on recreation and tourism.

Thank you for considering our views on this important issue.

George Hodgkinson

President,

Mojave Chamber of Commerce

 
 

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