Spielman, Zimmer have harsh words for each other


The two candidates for Kern County District Attorney squared off in Taft Tuesday night and didn't pull any punches or spare any words.
Scott Spielman and Cynthia Zimmer are running to replace Lisa Green, who is retiring after two terms are their confrontation of sorts at the Taft Chamber of Commerce Primary Election Forum was in marked contrast to the other who appeared there.
While candidates for two judge seats and a congressional seat remained collegial, even friendly, Spielman and Zimmer traded insults and referenced allegations leveled at each other during a heated campaign leading up to the June 7 election.
They didn't speak directly to each other during the forum, but it ended with Zimmer calling Spielman "dishonest"
Spielman is currently assistant District Attorney.
Zimmer is Supervising Deputy District Attorney.
Both have more than three decades with the Kern County District Attorney.
Before it heated up each candidate talked about their qualifications for the job.
Spielman said his experience as the assistant DA gives him the experience to run the office.
"I'm running for District Attorney because we deserve better," he said.
 With tight budgets and cuts in funding, Spielman said he's looking at automation to cut out some clerical work to save costs.
Zimmerman said she was the first prosecutor to use newly developed DNA technology to convict Bakersfield's east Side rapist several years ago.
Spielman said he supervises the lab that developed it.
"I was the one who got it into evidence," Zimmer said. "I had to prove it was good science and reliable."
Zimmerman pointed to her experience as a prosecutor handling the  toughest cases with the most violent criminals.
"During the last seven years I have chosen to handle some of the most violent felons in kern County," she said.
She said she takes every violent gang crime to trial if the evidence is there.
That led to a comment from Spielman an about a newspaper article headline about a plea bargain in a high profile gang case.
It really heated up in the closing statement.
Zimmerman took issue with allegations attributed to Spielman that Zimmer made 'backroom deals' to get endorsements from some groups. She called that a lie And ended the forum by calling Spielman dishonest.
One Sheriff candidate present
Only incumbent Sheriff Donnie Youngblood attended the forum at OT Cookhouse. His challenger, Chief Deputy Justin Fleeman to the Taft Chamber of Commerce he was attending a meet and greet in Bakersfield. Fleeman and Youngblood met in a televised debate on Monday night.
Youngblood, Sheriff since 2006, said he's campaigning on three issues:
Immigration;  reducing crime and increasing Sheriff's staff; and the second amendment and concealed weapons.
He said he's disappointment with the tone of the campaign being run by Fleeman.
He also spoke out about California's legalization of recreational cannabis use and said he won't ever write a permit for cannabis sales because it's still a federal crime.
"If I regulate marijuana I'm conspiring to commit a federal crime," he said.
Youngblood said he dramatically increased the number of concealed weapons permits in the county since he was first elected, but said he only issues the permits after checking with other county law enforcement agencies to make sure the applicants haven't been implicated in gang or other criminal activity.
Congressional and judge candidates.
Congressmen Kevin McCarthy didn't attend the forum, but his two challengers, Wendy Reed and Mary Barro, did.
They seemed to spend more time agreeing with each other than differing.
Judge candidates Brandon Martin and Chad Louie did differ over who is best qualified for a seat on the Kern County Superior Court.
Louise said his years of experience as a prosecutor give home the edge, but Martin pointed to his experience litigating civil cases and said attorney's are advocates but judges are impartial triers of fact.
Incumbent Judge John Fielder and his challenger, Cole McKnight both spoke of their qualifications for the Kern County Court as well.