Two Distinct Choices in the Kings County Race for District Two

Incumbent Richard Valle and longtime Corcoran business owner, Debra Kwast, are running for Kings County Supervisor District 2, which covers Corcoran, Kettleman City, and Avenal. The district also includes Home Garden, the residential enclave south of the Kings County Fairgrounds.

Though not a partisan office, these supervisorial candidates hail from opposite sides of the political spectrum. Valle was a former district director for Democratic Assemblywoman Nicole Parra before he won office in November of 2008. Kwast has been endorsed by the Kings County Young Republicans and describes herself as very conservative.

Since being elected in 2008, Valle has stayed active working on Kings County’s water issues. He is part of the California Latino Water Coalition that advocates on behalf of the farmers and farm laborers. The group fights for the area’s full allotment from the Central Valley Project (CVP). This year the Central Valley is only receiving 5% of its water allotment while Northern California is receiving 100%. Valle has been a vocal critic of the injustice of the allocations and has been advocating to increase Kings County’s share.

Valle also worked hard to get the 2014 Water Bond passed, he said, and said he pushed Governor Brown to declare the drought emergency. During the drought, Valle heard that Avenal was about to run dry and said he marched up to Sacramento to get the community help. Avenal receives its water almost exclusively from the CVP and the mandated restrictions had lead to the community almost running out of water. Valle said he met with the Bureau of Reclamations and got the formula changed so Avenal’s water supply was restored.

Valle was a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps for six years and then received a degree in Human Resources Administration from San Joaquin Valley College. Kwast, a mother and grandmother who has lived in Kings County her whole life, felt compelled to run against Valle for supervisor because she doesn’t feel like he represents the district adequately.

“He ignores the Avenal and Kettleman City areas,” she said.

Kwast has been a business woman for 40 years and feels that the county needs more business people in government rather than career politicians.

“We need to go back to what government was meant to be, which is serve then leave,” she said.

As a Kings County Board of Supervisor’s member, Valle voted to put Measure K on the ballot.

“I have very mixed feelings about Measure K. In theory I am not for any taxes but we are in the boat we are in,” Kwast said.

She doesn’t believe that Valle is the fiscal conservative that the county wants.

One example is when he wanted to spend thousands of dollars televising the board meetings, she said. In light of the prospect of paying more taxes for public safety through Measure K “that’s one of the things he does that bugs me to no end.

“I am a grandmother, involved in the community and I have nothing to hide,” said Kwast. “I am a person anyone can trust.”

In an interesting twist Valle ran against Richard Kwast, Debra’s husband, in 2008.

Valle beat Richard Kwast in that election by 59% to 40%.

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