A Rosamond man with a background in hospitality is looking to bring autonomy back to Kern County by announcing his bid for the second district seat for board of supervisors.
36-year-old Kelly Carden is running as a Libertarian calling for Kern County’s local government to push back against state and federal officials, with key focuses on the water crisis, second amendment rights and how small businesses are regulated.
Carden said he embraces the conservative presence in Kern County and would make residents’ opinions his priority, including concerns they may have with the current board members.
“One of the things that I expect from my supervisor is to really separate and isolate us from the state government,” Carden said. “We are very conservative in Kern County, but we have a very liberal governor pushing things down our throats despite what we say. Lately we’ve seen a lot of anger from [second district] supervisor Zack Scrivner. He writes emails and sends letters but doesn’t offer a lot of solutions.”
While Carden believes changes to the board would begin to address some issues, he notes that other county agencies should have structural changes as well. A third of California’s population is under emergency drought proclamation. How water is allocated remains highly debated. Carden says the issue is greater than the everyday person can handle, placing the responsibility on larger industries.
“There is this idea that we can expect the water issue to be fixed with everyday citizens like you and me rationing our water and paying outrageous bills. But the waste comes from the oil industry, the agriculture industry, and the lack of infrastructure,” Carden said. “Our local water districts should be looking for things like [pipe leaks and water running down the street]. They’re not just here to charge us for water, they’re here to protect our water supply. And if they don’t have an avenue to inform people of where water breaks are, then how are they protecting our water?”
The father-of-four is proud of his family’s history in Kern County spanning three generations. He explains that his Filipino and Irish ancestry plays a big role in how he views progress for the county. His stepfather’s family moved to Rosamond in the late 60s, his grandmother a librarian and credits his grandfather with building a local highway. His mother’s family survived the Japanese occupation during World War II, and she came to the U.S. with little to nothing, before building a life for her family.
He returned to Rosamond with his own family after several years away. He now lives with his girlfriend Shana, their three children Rodney, Elisa and Anderson, Carden’s mother, and just a few blocks away lives his daughter Naomi. Carden said his stepfather, aunts, uncles, and cousins attended the same elementary school that his children now attend.
Building up and protecting the Kern County community is another important issue for Carden. He is a strong supporter of the second amendment, even suggesting rolling back state gun laws in the county.
“I believe there is a reason why the law states, ‘shall not be infringed’,” Carden said. “In this state, the gun laws are way stricter than the federal law requires. In Kern County we would nullify that.”
Carden adds, that gun laws discriminate against people of color, and the working class.
“Gun laws are racist. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that gun laws are always aimed at people of color and poor people. They’re never aimed at people who can pay the fees or have the money to pay for security.”
Still, he advocates for police officers that uphold professionalism and inspire to bring up their community.
“It’s very important that people understand that I am one hundred percent in support of individual police officers,” Carden said. “I have family and friends that I’ve known my entire life that are currently police officers. I trust them and expect them to do the best job that they can.”
But Carden does not support police seizures of property without a conviction and would roll back cops’ qualified immunity status.
“We should end asset forfeiture. Any asset forfeiture should require a conviction. You’re not going to take people’s things without telling them what they did wrong. We would also limit the Kern County sheriff’s office so they cannot team up with federal asset forfeiture programs,” Carden said. “I would also like to see a railing back of qualified immunity. The idea that cops need a judgement call to tell them what is right and wrong is laughable. Police should be held accountable to the same standards that you and I are. Police are not privileged they are heroes.”
Carden has an array of ideas and plans to implement including keeping the oil industry within county lines, reducing the price of meats and produce, ending what he calls marijuana prohibition and supporting school choice. All falling under the umbrella of improving Kern County’s infrastructure.
“We have to do it, we have to find a way to sustain growth in Kern County, but there’s a responsible way to do it,” Carden said. “I would like to see more input from the people living in local municipalities, not just people in the county and state level.”