Kevin Crye’s Victory Party: A Speech, Laughs and Patrick Poncho ‘Veela’

On Friday, April 5, My wife and I attended Shasta County District 1 Supervisor Kevin Crye’s (we barely won by 50 votes) victory party. It was held at the Red Lion Inn in Redding.

It had been suggested to me by multiple sources that Kevin had intended this to be a reach-across-the-aisle event. In fact, I have heard him say multiple times that he would like to “mend fences”. After all, roughly 49.75 percent of District 1 voters are at odds with Supervisor Crye.

As I walked into the event, the very first person I saw was activist and conspiracy theorist Lori Bridgford. She held a box containing flowers, what looked like a plaque, and in her other hand was a clear bag with “No On Crye Recall” signs. Without thinking I blurted out, “Wait, you brought campaign signs?” To which Lori replied, “Well, yeah I don’t need them anymore”.

At the front desk there was a sign-up sheet, presumably to collect phone numbers and email addresses of supporters for future political endeavors. I thought it would be best if I declined to sign, (I am aware of the irony). In the back of the hallway there were two security guards from Ardent Security, the same company whose private security guards stand watch over board of supervisors meetings. 

I walked into the room and was struck by just how many players from Shasta County’s right-wing extremist movement were there.

Identical twins Richard and Eric Gallardo were there, the aforementioned self-proclaimed citizen journalist Lori Bridgeford, Mike Paulbitski and Jon Knight, among others. District 5 Supervisor Chris Kelstrom was there, as well as District 3 Supervisor Patrick Jones. I might add that Jones was wearing a poncho, which caused Crye to jokingly refer to Jones as Poncho “Villa”. I don’t have any photos, you’re going to have to trust me on this.

This got me thinking, three supervisors in one place … Doesn’t this constitute a Brown Act violation?

I put that out of my mind. As I scanned around the room looking for familiar faces, I was struck by the fact that I believed my wife and I were were among the very few (if any) people from the “other side” of the aisle.

Shortly after we arrived, Kevin approached the front of the room to give a speech. Crye began his speech with a joke about how tall Kelstrom is. Crye mentioned how he gets kicked regularly by Kelstrom under the dais during board meetings.  Crye cracked a joke about how he has little space as chair because of Kelstrom’s height, as well as all of the things Jones brings to the meetings, (jokingly, he stated that Jones brings an ice chest and a duffle bag full of guns).

Crye then went on to say that his belief in Jesus Christ was the backbone of his campaign. He then stated that Jesus has a sense of humor, because Crye always thought he’d win by 91 votes (the same amount he won by in the original 2022 election in), however, when he saw the final vote count, and that the Yes on Kevin Crye Recall votes were 4666, he chuckled to himself.  This echoes the sentiments that Crye made on his radio show and at a recent BOS meeting that people involved in the recall are “evil”.  

If you’d asked me at this point, I’d have said that that kind of rhetoric did not help “mend fences” — or in any way bring our community together. Friday, Crye was clearly playing to the crowd, and the crowd loved him for it.

Crye proceeded to mention his wife Sarah, who had made her first public appearance in quite some time. Crye stated that since his wife is Norwegian, she doesn’t like crowds or large events. Perhaps this was his explanation for why Sarah Crye is often absent from most politically related events.

Crye told a story about the time when recall supporters put a signature booth in front of Whiskeytown Barbecue restaurant, and with the aid of local media, vilified the owner of the restaurant.

This, of course, is not what happened. The Recall Kevin Crye supporters were not in front of the restaurant. They were in the shopping center’s parking lot that had other businesses there. The Whiskeytown BBQ owner came out and began harassing people for using their First Amendment right.

Crye told his supporters about a reporter from Dallas who’d visited Crye’s weekly Friday coffee at Kaleidoscope coffee shop that very morning. Crye recounted how the reporter asked if he felt any responsibility for Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen’s early retirement due to health reasons. Crye told the victory party guests how he flippantly replied that yes, he was responsible, because he didn’t encourage Darling-Allen to go for walks, eat right or strength train. Crye then went on to say that one of the things he feels is wrong with society is that “no one takes personal responsibility”.

This felt particularly egregious to me, considering the fact that hostile working environments can definitely exacerbate or cause stress-related health issues. The irony in Crye’s statement was that he himself has failed to accept personal responsibility by stating that his, Kelstrom and Jones’ supervisor actions did not affect others.

Crye mentioned the sign-in sheet at the front of the desk and encouraged people to fill it out. Crye shared his plans to publish a newsletter and find ways for the public to get more involved. This push for names and contact information seemed what this event was mostly about. With Patrick losing his election, and Kevin barely squeaking by, I think the writing is on the wall: The only way for this group to continue to hold onto power is to create their own media outlet. We can already see this happening with the Mountain Top Media programming. If they can get a direct line to every one of their supporters, they can simply feed them propaganda directly from the firehose. No need to listen to the “lying, fake media”. 

Crye then spoke about the origins of his political career, back when he attended the 2021 School Walkout protest. Crye told how, after attending the protest, he felt like the movement didn’t have any teeth. So, Patrick Jones suggested Crye attend the next day’s board of supervisors meeting.

He’s told this story many times before, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Patrick Jones truly has been at the center of Shasta County’s  hard-right political movement from almost the start. Without Jones we wouldn’t have had the baseless Leonard Moty recall, we wouldn’t have Kelstrom, Jones’ childhood friend, and we wouldn’t have Kevin Crye. 

Jones’ defeat in the recent 2024 election cannot be understated. The cloud over Shasta County is in the process of being lifted. I only wonder what lasting damage will be done before Jones is finally ousted from office.

It’s actually one of the final things I heard Crye say toward the end of his speech; that the board has nine months left to make progress in their agenda.

What will the next nine months bring? One thing’s for sure, I’ll be paying attention, and I hope you are, too.

Click here for audio of the Kevin Crye Victory party. 


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Benjamin Nowain

Benjamin Nowain is an Analyst at Shasta County Health and Human Services. He grew up in Palo Cedro, and has a penchant for storytelling. He loves technology and film, which he studied at City College of San Francisco. He founded Redding VR, a Virtual Reality Arcade in downtown Redding. His hobbies include filmmaking and gaming. He is married to Jenny-O’Connell-Nowain and has two children, Chloe and Ari. ### If you appreciate Benjamin Nowain’s investigative reporting, videos and commentary, please consider a contribution to A News Cafe.

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