Here is a quick story about Anthony Kern, currently a member of Arizona’s House of Representatives.
In 2008 Kern was a code-enforcement supervisor in the city of El Mirage, AZ, leading a small team of other city workers. According to the Arizona Republic, in 2010, a woman who worked with him filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against him, alleging that he said some incredibly sexist and awful things to her. From the complaint, which was obtained by the Republic:
“I and another female have been subjected to sex-based comments by Anthony Kern, our immediate supervisor,” the complaint states. “Some examples include but are not limited to, in the later part of 2008, Anthony Kern called me an ‘overtime whore’ and has referred to himself as ‘my daddy’ on many occasions.”
(Kern, when asked about this complaint, told the Republic, “You write what you want.”)
Here is another very quick story about Anthony Kern. Again, from the Republic:
The El Mirage Police Department fired Kern after he told a supervisor that he was repaying the city for a lost tablet computer when he wasn’t, according to public records.
Kern was elected to the Legislature that same year and has since risen to powerful posts. He now serves as chairman of the Committee on Rules and vice chairman of the Committee on Public Safety.
He has touted his law-enforcement experience repeatedly during his political career, though he was never a sworn officer while he worked for El Mirage.
But his firing led to the placement of Kern’s name on the “Brady List,” a database of law-enforcement officials accused of dishonesty. Kern pushed for a bill this session to let former law-enforcement officials like him try to get their names removed from the blacklist.
The bill was later amended to remove that provision and awaits a vote by the Senate.
Kern is, I think we can safely assume, a gigantic shithead. But he is also very powerful (related to most people in Arizona). Here he is with the vice president:
How did Kern become a state lawmaker, capable of advancing legislation like the one mentioned above that would have taken him off the naughty cop list, and also another bill which would have made it a misdemeanor to ride in a car without an ID?
He did it by getting elected to a seat in 2014, in a non-presidential year, in an area where the voter turnout was 45.32 percent. This is how the shitheads get in. Does his district usually lean Republican? Sure. That’s going to happen. But in 2016, Kern ran unopposed in the Republican primary and then promptly won his seat again!
It may seem like I am unfairly berating the residents of Kern’s slice of Maricopa County. It is not only their fault. You see, shitheads get elected all over the country. In Brooklyn, Kalman Yeger, an elected member of the New York City Council, recently went on a deranged rant about Palestine not existing. In Georgia, state Rep. Jason Spencer literally showed his entire ass on Sacha Baron Cohen’s prank show while shouting racial slurs. Shane Bouchard, the mayor of Lewiston, ME, was recently forced to resign after he described black people as “antique farm equipment” in a text message.
This stuff may feel like small potatoes, what with Donald Trump in the White House and the fact that like, Rep. Matt Gaetz exists. But not electing shitheads is very definitely possible on a local level with (comparatively) few votes. There are at least two ways to do this. One is showing up to vote and the other is running for office.
The only message to take away from Kern’s story is that showing up on shitty midterm elections and actually filling out all of the bubbles matters, because if you don’t do it we get shitheads like him. Republicans have made the process of voting incredibly difficult mostly for the express purpose of getting shitheads elected, and one of the best ways to start to change that is to keep attacking their seats on a state and local level.
The good news is, we’re already starting to do this: some of the biggest wins in the 2018 midterms were in state legislatures in places like North Carolina, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Colorado, and Maine. It is possible to kick the shitheads out, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t start now.