The son of a Hesperia politician is getting into the family business, and leveraging his extensive connections right from the start.

Mark Kirk, the son of Hesperia Unified School District school president Robert Kirk, and the chief of staff for San Bernardino County Supervisor Gary Ovitt, held his first fundraiser Thursday at the Quality Inn and Suites Green Tree in Victorville.

Hesperia City Councilman Ed Pack, former councilman Jim Lindley, County Assessor Bill Postmus, Victorville Mayor Terry Caldwell and school board member Hardy Black, among others, attended the event. Ovitt hosted the event and the keynote speaker was San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos.

"I was very pleased, very humbled by the turnout," Kirk said Friday. "We're still sifting through the $50 and $100 checks that came in through the door, but we know we raised over $60,000 last night."

While other well-connected figures have run for office in Hesperia before, Kirk's fundraiser was attended by more than the typical number of High Desert politicians.

"Certainly, I've been blessed in my career to work for George and Sharon Runner, as well as Gary Ovitt, and that's allowed me to build a lot of good friendships with other elected officials," Kirk said.

One of those in attendance was San Bernardino County Planning Commissioner Russ Blewett, who has also declared that he will be running for one of the two open seats on the city council this year. The two are familiar with each other beyond passing each other in the halls of the board of supervisors: Blewett's daughter Lori Nielson spearheaded the recall attempt that failed to recall Kirk's father earlier this year.

"Russ and I agree on some things, and we certainly have some disagreements, and there's certainly some history there," said Kirk, a 1992 graduate of Hesperia High School. "I'm happy that he was able to come, but my campaign is my campaign. I'm not running with anyone, and I don't plan to run against anyone. I'm going to put my ideas out there and let the voters decide."

The recall attempt just reinforced for Kirk that politics is not for the faint-hearted.

"I think anyone who wants to get into politics because it's fun doesn't know anything about it and is probably getting involved for the wrong reasons," he said. "I want to make sure that Hesperia continues to be the great place to be a kid, the great place to raise a family, that it was for me and my family. I think right now, we face some challenges, and if we don't get in front of some key issues, that'll be in jeopardy."

Kirk's key issues are ones that will be familiar to Hesperia voters.

"I think that public safety is an important issue that we keep on the forefront," he said. "Quite often in these sorts of economic times, you see an increase in crime, so it's important for local government to keep their eye on the ball."

He praised city officials for budgeting an additional two San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department deputies for the next fiscal year.

"I think transportation is always going to be a big deal in Hesperia with constituents," Kirk said. "We have to continue to work hard on that."

The city's economy rounds out Kirk's three main issues.

"And then I think the other big issue is economic development. We still don't have the number of high-paying jobs here in the desert that we need to have. So our residents are driving down the hill for their jobs," Kirk said. "We need to do a much better job as a city and as a region to get those high-paying jobs up here."

Two-term councilman Tad Honeycutt has said he will not run for reelection this year, and 2008 may be a year with many candidates throwing their hats into the ring.

"I don't think this is going to be an election cycle where people have to choose the lesser of two evils," Kirk said. "I think they'll have a lot of good choices, and hopefully they'll think that I'm one of them."

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.