Vying for District 5, which encompasses the northeastern corner of the county, is former Kings County District Attorney Greg Strickland and incumbent Richard Fagundes.
Stickland dropped a bombshell on the election when he announced that if elected he would work without pay.
“I am not going to take a salary,” declared Strickland.
If he wins office, he will have to accept his paycheck because the county does not have a system in place to not pay a supervisor. Strickland’s plan is to donate his earnings to Veterans groups, the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, or other groups until he can get a resolution passed through the board that the supervisors don’t get paid. He realizes that getting the four other supervisors to pass such a resolution will be a tall mountain to climb.
“I’m going to start a movement. I think it will take off,” he said.
His rationale for the resolution is that the Board of Supervisors only work one to four hours a week.
“I looked at the agendas and some of the meetings only last 40 minutes.” Strickland summed it up as earning $5,500 a month with free medical and retirement for one day’s work.
“This is a pork barrel rip off to the tax payer. We need people on the board who will work for the community. It’s a boondoggle. If the taxpayer knew they would be completely devastated.”
Strickland is retired. His law practice is only open for pro-bono cases to help Veterans get their benefits.
Strickland says that he is the most qualified for the office because he has the education. He has a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and a law degree. He is also a retired army colonel and the former Kings County District Attorney.
His platform is: fight for water, fight against High Speed Rail, and eliminate taxes and regulations. He also plans on resetting the board’s priorities to put public safety first. He said that law enforcement is always at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to the budget, so much so, that they have to go out and beg for money through Measure K.
“”I think that is completely wrong,” he said.
Kings County Supervisor Richard Fagundes is running to defend his seat. He was first elected in 2008 when he beat an incumbent and then re-elected in 2012. Fagundes feels he has earned his constituents vote because, “I’ve done a good job and I work well with the other supervisors. But if I lose the first thing I will do is pick up the phone and congratulate Greg.”
Fagundes still lives on the family farm where he was born.
“I know everyone in this district and they feel comfortable talking with me,” he said.
When Fagundes was first elected he thought he might have a hard time because of his lack of a college degree. But he said it was actually easy, “It’s a pleasure to work with people and just your common sense is what this job needs.”
He prefers to learn on the job and already has experience running businesses. He has more than 20-years experience on the family dairy, and has successfully managed and supervised large scale diversified farming operations ranging from 300 to more than 2,000 acres of alfalfa, cotton and pistachios.
Concerning Strickland’s pledge not to take a salary, “he can do what he wants,” said Fagundes.
He feels the supervisors are well paid but says that some supervisors don’t think they are paid enough. When Fagundes was elected he decided he wanted to give 5% of his salary back to the county. When the supervisors got a 2% raise, he convinced the other supervisors not to take it, and that raise also went back to the county coffers.
“This is a big wheel and I am just a spoke. What I like is that we work together,” he said.
Fagundes conceded that being a supervisor could be construed as being a part-time job, but says that you have to be available 24/7.
“Every day I’m in the office and when I’m not I’m out in the community,” he said. “What you put into it is what you are going to get out of it.”
In terms of his platform he is adamantly against High Speed Rail and says that it is devastating the county.
“I wish it would go away,” he said.
He said that this area’s biggest rail obstacle for Kings County is getting to the coast and that’s where Amtrak should build a line.
“Besides Amtrak can already go 200 miles per hour,” he said.
As far as High Speed Rail’s budget he said, “I have my doubts.”
If recreational marijuana is legalized in California during the general election in November he plans on keeping Kings County a dry county.
“We will have to spend more money dealing with the problems that pot brings with it than the tax revenue coming in from marijuana sales,” he said. “Law enforcement has enough problems.”
Fagundes is in favor of Measure K.
“My son is the Kings County District Attorney and I will go along with whatever law enforcement says it needs,” he said.
In an interesting twist in this race, Keith Fagundes, Richard Fagundes’ son, beat the then Kings County District Attorney Greg Strickland in 2014. Strickland was Kings County District Attorney from 1994–1998 and from 2010–2014. Ironically, Strickland is facing another member of the Fagundes family two years later.
Fagundes and his wife have raised a family of seven children and worked hard, he said.
“It wasn’t easy but I’ve always put in my 200% and I have been very fortunate,” he said.