Palmdale mayoral candidates face off

Maggie Campbell, Desmond Kester, and Jim Ledford at the Palmdale Mayoral Debate Thursday.

Maggie Campbell, Desmond Kester, and Jim Ledford at the Palmdale Mayoral Debate Thursday.

PALMDALE – Palmdale’s three mayoral candidates held their own at a debate Thursday night, fielding questions on a variety of topics that ran the gamut from the justice realignment act to whether or not they would march in a Palmdale gay parade.

The event was hosted by the League of Women’s Voters Antelope Valley at the Palmdale School District Offices and moderated by Ann Hill.

The 45 minute debate consisted of questions from the moderator as well as written questions from the audience of about 30.

After a brief introduction, challengers Maggie Campbell, Desmond Kester and incumbent Jim Ledford, were given one minute each to answer a series of questions.

debate audienceAll three differed on the greatest challenge facing Palmdale.

For Kester, it was a faulty education system, a point he hammered home in several answers throughout the debate.

Ledford said multiple challenges were facing Palmdale, including public safety, economic development and quality of life.

“As a community, we need to climb out of this recession that I think has ravaged property values,” Ledfod said. “We’ve done it before and we are capable of doing it again.”

For Campbell, the biggest challenge facing the City was its current leadership.

“The biggest challenge that we have in Palmdale is to replace the current Mayor that we have now,” said Campbell. “He has been in office for 20 years and it’s time to cut him loose.”

Candidates were also questioned on how they would promote the Palmdale Power Plant. Campbell did not mince words in voicing her disapproval for the plant, which has been one of the cornerstones of her campaign.

“The power plant has not been approved, it has simply received a permit to build,” Campbell said. “There are so many hurdles that you have to cross to open this power plant and I plan to stand in the way of all of them. It will not open in this town.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Ledford called the power plant an economic development tool that would yield cheaper power for residents.

“Yes, there are several more steps, but we are confident, we are on the right path,” said Ledford. “The need for more power generation is critical to the state’s success and our Antelope Valley.”

Kester’s view on the power plant was somewhere in the middle.

“I’m not going to promote it, but we do need power and it’s a source of power, so I’m neutral on it,” said Kester.

Candidates also sounded off on one of the most talked about issues in the community at present – the Criminal Justice Realignment Act (AB109).

Ledford said constant monitoring of parolees and those on probation was key to a smooth transition of former inmates into the community as “re-offense is well documented.”

“There’re lots of good people that are going to be released as well, and we need to also assist them,” Ledford said. “But we also need to keep an eye on the ones that are intending on reoffending.”

Like Ledford, Kester cited monitoring as key to dealing with the influx of new prison releases to county.

“It would be nice to have more police, and it’d be nice to have more social services.” Kester added.

Campbell had an alternative approach. She said starting a Palmdale police department was the answer.

“We could get more police on the street, as opposed to the Sheriff’s Department, and we could do more to protect our communities and our children and make sure that those that are being released are not put back in the area where they are exposed to children, such as schools,” Campbell said.

Asked how he would mend the rift between Lancaster and Palmdale, Kester simply said: “If I’m the Mayor, then the rift goes away, that easy.”

Campbell said she too could squash the rift between the cities if she was mayor. She said lawsuits involving the two cities could be settled if leadership worked together rather than fighting.

“Sit down and listen to what their views are, speak to them about your views, and see how you can actually work together rather than fighting,” Campbell said. “It’s all about personality… being able to get along with people, not dictate to people.”

Ledford countered, “I think you have to be naïve to believe that.”

Ledford said the City of Palmdale was an upcoming city simply trying to gets it’s share in the Antelope Valley.

“Our lawsuit with the City of Lancaster is because they illegally stole one of our auto dealers,” Ledford said. “That produces a hit to our sales tax receipts [so] we have less revenue to provide basic services for our residents.”

An audience member’s written question asked candidates whether they would support and march in a gay parade in the City of Palmdale.

All three candidates said yes.

“I like a party, why not,” Kester said.

Ledford said he had already supported a gay parade in Palmdale at Poncitlan Square.

“Our community is made up of a variety of individuals and I think that everybody has a right in America to live as Americans,” he said. “I may not agree with the lifestyle but they certainly have a right, and I’m not going to infringe upon their rights as Americans.”

Said Campbell: “I would stand tall with them and let them know that no one has a right to discriminate against you because of the alternative life you have chosen to take.”

In closing remarks Campbell again stressed her opposition for the Palmdale power plant, while Kester continued to rally for a better education system.

“As mayor I’ll do anything I can to raise the standards of education in the Antelope Valley and also in Palmdale,” said Kester. “That’s how you get a good future.”

Ledford emphasized his 20-year track record as the City’s leader.

“I will work harder than anybody else as your mayor,” Ledford said. “I’ve dedicated my time and energy in the past and I will continue that in the future.”

  36 comments for “Palmdale mayoral candidates face off

  1. Stinger
    October 30, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    I just got a recorded call from the Maggie Campbell for Mayor campaign.

    Mostly, the recording was about the lies that Maggie has been paid by Parris to spread about the new power plant, but it also included the plea for me to vote for Maggie Campbell for Mayor of Palmdale.

    I noted the phone number on the caller ID and decided to check it on a reverse directory and found, lo and behold, that the number belongs to “The Church of the Living God,” in Palmdale. See if you can guess who the Pastor is there… Yep! It’s Maggie Campbell!

    Looks to me like there is a significant violation of IRS Code, so I did a little digging at the IRS website and found this:

    “Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to all campaigns including campaigns at the federal, state and local level. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.”

    In case you are wondering if this use of the phone counts as such a violation, the fact sheet continues on the next paragraph with this:

    “Political campaign intervention includes any and all activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention. Distributing statements prepared by others that favor or oppose any candidate for public office will also violate the prohibition. Allowing a candidate to use an organization’s assets or facilities will also violate the prohibition if other candidates are not given an equivalent opportunity. ”

    Wow! Maggie Campbell really is learning a lot from Parris, ain’t she?

    • Matt Keltner
      October 30, 2011 at 9:56 pm

      If Maggie Campbell can’t even follow simple IRS guidelines pertaining to how to ethically run a campaign, how in the hell does she expect the people of Palmdale to trust her ethics as Mayor?

    • Luis Fraga
      November 1, 2011 at 1:44 am

      Haha funny guy well Ledford placed an ad in the AV Press which is also a conflict of interest, your mad because you think $$$ can bail your governor out of this election when its the youth, communities, and families, spreading Maggies name. The Palmdale Fire Department endorsed her. Why not Ledford? They don’t know who he is because he’s been relaxing and not being involved and that’s when he gets thrown out of his seat. Bye Ledford you will lose.

    • Luis Fraga
      November 1, 2011 at 1:54 am

      She should work with Rex Parris then there wouldn’t be lawsuits between the 2 cities. Geeze being a 15 year old high school drop out wasn’t so bad compared to all these ignorant people asking and replying to these posts. Thank God I can vote and make my 600 friends on FB vote. Ledford its over bud hang your coat up and call it an evening. Hope you enjoyed your term….Luis A. Fraga

      • Stinger
        November 2, 2011 at 12:54 pm

        Ah, I see that Maggie has chosen to grace us with yet another fake persona.

        Maggie, you will not only lose this election, but if you continue to illegally use your 501(c)3 as a base for campaigning, you will lose that, as well! You might even join your puppetmaster, Parris, in prison, too!

  2. Gabrial Singh
    October 16, 2011 at 5:54 am

    30 people attended the forum. Not too many people, for a town of Palmdale’s size. I would think the current mayor would have had more support than that meager crowd? 30 people. I think what the occupy movement is showing, is that people like the current mayor, are bought and paid for by big money interests that back the power plant. How much money has Mr Ledford made off his support of the power plant?? How about the huge employment issue in palmdale. No, I think Mr Ledford and his hacks, who are prevalent on this thread, has made plenty of money and influence during his tenure, and it has NOT benefitted the community. Maggie Campbell is the only HONEST person in this entire campaign. I expect honesty, to win over corruption and cronyism, which is on display with the incumbent. I expect the citizens of Palmdale to act with decency, and send these good old boys, who have basically destroyed the communities future, to go in a different direction and elect an outsider….not the corrupt good old boys candidate, and elect Maggie Campbell, Mayor of Palmdale.

    • Stinger
      October 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm

      Maggie is BACKED by the good ol’ boys – especially Parris himself!

      • Jo
        October 17, 2011 at 6:00 pm

        What was sad was how quick she went after rex for cash. Sorry Maggie! One fake Christian being financed by another fake Christian.

        Tells us all we need to know about her!

        • November 1, 2011 at 1:33 am

          What makes one a “fake” Christian?

          Is it at all like a “fake” Muslim or a “fake” Pagan?

          I say that you may not agree with her (or his) application of Christian dogma but they are certainly Christians. To define one as a Christian all you need is to belong to one of the “Abrahamic Mythologies” and hold the Christian “Bible” as the source and final word of your ‘god’. She is an upsetting and bigoted and hate filled woman, I find her truly ignorant and closed minded, but she is again certainly a Christian.

          Please mote that not all Christians are this upsetting or this willing to abide by the ugly or immoral parts in that book of theirs, and to those Christians I am thankful for using reason and morality over dogma and ritual.

          Please See :


  3. Stinger
    October 15, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Kester seems naive and has a misdirected focus – If he is so hot of fixing education, then he should be running for a school district board position. His comment regarding the problems with Lancaster shows how he is incognizant of reality.

    Campbell is clearly not knowledgeable about how the contract law enforcement arrangement with the LA Sheriff’s Dept. works or with how the PHPP will help the city to keep the higher paying manufacturing and aerospace jobs here in the AV. It really sounds more like she has an axe to grind with Ledford and less like she has any idea how to be a good mayor herself. I noticed that her statements seem to be coming right from the R. Rex Parris playbook, too – looks like a sponsored plant, to me!

    Only Ledford sounded like he has a clue what is going on and is clearly working towards improving the city for the long term. I think that my vote should go to Jim Ledford… Again!

    • SJ
      October 18, 2011 at 10:15 am

      Ledford has made Palmdale THE city to run to not run FROM like Lancaster! I lived in Lancaster in 1999 when I first moved to the AV. Nobody wanted to live in Palmdale back then. I moved to Palmdale reluctantly in 2001 and really started getting to see the improvements being made.

      My child went to Junior High and then started High School while we lived out in Palmdale. When I moved back to Lancaster in 2005, I kept my oldest in Highland High.

      When it was time for my two youngest to start high school in the AV, even though I live about .5 miles from Eastside High in Lancaster… I drive them to Highland High every morning. I don’t want my kids in Lancaster schools.

      I avoid shopping in Lancaster as much as possible. I don’t go to Lancaster movies or other “entertainment”. I don’t even buy my gas in this town unless I absolutely have to.

      I have worked with Mr. Ledford. I have seen him hold his ground and I have seen him bend/compromise. The man makes mistakes like everyone else. I have seen him own up to them and make changes. He has the best interest of the City of Palmdale at heart. I look forward to moving back to Palmdale some day…someone please save me from MY mayor! (yes…I do vote!)

      • William
        October 18, 2011 at 10:36 am

        You really don’t HAVE to avoid shopping in Lancaster. There’s really no place to shop other than thrift stores and Walmart. Palmdale has gold courses while Lancaster has auto wrecking yards. I feel for people who are stuck living there and can’t move because of the housing market.

        And Lancaster’s politics would have me kicked out their city council meetings if I told them what I thought. Parris is so jealous of Ledford and what Palmdale has become, it’s making him crazy, er, crazier.

        • William
          October 18, 2011 at 7:00 pm

          That should be ‘golf’ courses.

  4. Miffed American
    October 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Is this really an answer and is this somebody Palmdale can rely on for resolutions? Asked how he would mend the rift between Lancaster and Palmdale, Kester simply said: “If I’m the Mayor, then the rift goes away, that easy.”

    I think not! Where would Madam Campbell expect to get the revenue for a Police dept. ? Lancaster hasn’t Even been able to get their own dept. just becasue you have your own dept. doesn’t mean you will have more officers on the street. What it means is more taxes to the already strapped working force. Madam Campbell dissed Ledford for his 20 years service. He has dedicated 110% to the community. Madam Campbell is a Pastor of an off shoot church and will she be able to wear two hats? Will she be capble of wearing two hats I doubt it given her venom she spews toward people that do not value her values. Ledford has proven his track record not from words but from action. I saw this community grow and grow even in it’s worst times and Ledford has pulled her through.

    • Patty Smith
      October 14, 2011 at 4:36 pm

      She just talks out of her backside and says things before thinking them through. I just wish she would pack up and get the heck out of town! She was already kicked out of the San Fernando Valley after she upset so many people there.

      • October 16, 2011 at 2:26 am

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    • October 16, 2011 at 2:40 am

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  5. Erick Byarushengo
    October 14, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    I think Maggie Campbell benefited from the Gay Pride Parade question because she was the last one to answer. All I will say is that I know where she really stands, and being present at the event, I was able to see her first reaction when the question came up.

    • S. Parker
      October 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm

      Is Maggie a homophobe? Please share!

      • Miffed American
        October 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm

        I do too and it ain’t with homosexuals.She will use them for the vote nothing more.

      • Patty Smith
        October 14, 2011 at 4:30 pm

        Yes! No question in my mind!

      • October 16, 2011 at 2:19 am

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      • BIG BURD
        October 19, 2011 at 11:26 pm

        yes, maggie is completely a bigot. less than a year ago she ran for a delegate position for the democrats and when she had found out there was a gay man on her slate she flipped out because of that very specific reason. 110% a bible thumping homophobic pretend democrat.

    • October 16, 2011 at 2:51 am

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  6. S. Parker
    October 14, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Wow, this is the first report I read where Maggie didn’t sound like a bible thumping lunatic. No matter. Kester is a bore, Maggie is inexperienced and Jim will wipe the floor with these two come election day.

    • October 16, 2011 at 2:54 am

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  7. Matt Keltner
    October 14, 2011 at 7:53 am

    I noticed that Maggie referred to gay people as living “an alternative life you have chosen to take” — more thinly veiled homophobia! Someone should have asked her when she chose to be heterosexual?

    • Miffed American
      October 14, 2011 at 4:07 pm

      Gays take great offense to that!

    • October 16, 2011 at 3:00 am

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  8. Pam Francis
    October 14, 2011 at 6:54 am

    Jim Ledford’s 20 record speaks for itself. He is a fine man, a great leader with a passion for Palmdale’s best~ The city has grown with class and quality of life for those who live there. He speaks up for and defends what is best for the city. I am proud of him. He is a man of integrity, in public and in his private life. I live in Richmond, KY and I have met folks that live in Palmdale. All they did was talk about how personable the mayor is and how hard he works….full time, in a part time position. If I could…I would vote for him, put a sign in my yard, and work on his campaign. He is the best!

    • William
      October 14, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      I agree fully. I can’t wait to get my absentee ballot so I can vote for Mayor Ledford. He is one of the few politicans I trust and admire and I’m a Democrat. But, Mayor Ledford always puts the City of Palmdale first, before his ego (think Rex), his party and his own personal interests.

      I am so pleased with all the improvements and businesses the mayor has brought to Palmdale. As I dine at one of the places on Restaurant Row such as the new Yardhouse which was very busy, I keep forgetting what a lousy economy we are in.

      Sure, Palmdale still has problems but we seem to be on the right track given the circumstances all cities are in. I reported grafitti on a block wall Sunday night and it was gone by noon Monday. Code Enforcement is very helpful. The city replaced a section of sidewalk that a tree the developer planted in my side yard had raised without my calling to report it. This all despite the layoffs and shorter hours at City Hall.

      Mayor Ledford has worked to get the High Speed Rail while the Lancaster politicians seem to not care. He’s worked to get airline service at the airport, the power plant, the medical center, the AV College campus in Palmdale in the face of a bad economy and obnoxious and uncooperative opposition from the whole apparatus north of N.

      I’ve wondered if other potential mayors would have let the powers in Lancaster simply roll over them. It has been suggested over the years that Lancaster has tried to influence Palmdale politics to the benefit of Lancaster, and it’s no wonder they hate Ledford for not putting up with their stuff.

      I have trouble imagining what Mayor Ledford could accomplish if the economy improved significantly given what he’s been able to do in Palmdale during repeated recessions since I’ve lived here starting in 1990.

      • October 16, 2011 at 3:05 am

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    • Luis Fraga
      November 1, 2011 at 1:36 am

      LOL. I am 22 years old have lived in Palmdale since 5 years old. Back then in the 90’s it was great. Now it is ghetto, flooded, and trashy. Ledford obviously got bored of his job as Mayor. And since 5 I never even herd his name till I started supporting Campbell since this year. I support her because she wants to CHANGE Palmdale, it is full of trash, water waste, and has SUCKED for the last 5 years. We don’t want a power plant we prefer an airport were high class, not cash for gold. We don’t want cancer we want health. LEDFORD YOUR A GREEDY SUN OF A GUN. YOU WILL NOT WIN THIS. FROM LUIS FRAGA a 22 YEAR OLD. PUNK. I AM SPREADING THE WORD EVERYDAY. Clear your desk a new mayor is coming into town. Find me on Facebook. I do search engine optimization as well….. Peace.

      • Stinger
        November 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm

        Maggie Campbell (and her fake named personas) is nothing but a paid schill for Parris & Co., illegally using her church’s 501(c)3 facilities to forward her campaign!

        Is THIS what you want for Mayor of Palmdale? Another obvious Parris-paid puppet? I don’t think so!

Comments are closed.