Rochelle Garner may be new to politics, but she's been in this year's race for the Hesperia City Council for longer than most.

This spring, the 30-year-old Realtor took her ambitions online, creating a page on MySpace (MySpace.com/rochellegarner2008), and reaching out to other Hesperians about the problems facing the city. Only Mayor Mike Leonard had officially declared his candidacy in the 2008 election prior to Garner.

"I have [contacted] about 560 [people] so far," she said. "I haven't done it the last couple of weeks, with school back in session."

As the race gets going in earnest, and her name gets out there, Garner is hearing from more and more residents.

"The support is starting to come in," she said. "As of today, it's the $50,000 piece of granite the city bought" for the centerpiece of the Hesperia Civic Park water fountain. "The response has been 'wow.'"

Garner has also started to step up her presence in the real world, attending city council meetings and speaking up on issues that concern her. But much of the time, she's at home with her young children, watching videocasts of city council meetings, reading newspaper discussion boards and generally keeping up online.

"I'm a real person. I'm a stay at home mom. I run my own business and help my husband with his [plumbing] business."

But she says she doesn't want running for office to change her.

"I'm not a politician. I'm an everyday person," Garner said. "I've been interested in politics, but I've always seen what it does to people."

Younger than anyone else in the seven-candidate race, and one of the few with no prior political experience, she knows she's a dark horse.

"Nobody [in the political establishment] takes me seriously, and that's what I'm counting on."

That, and a message she says is more in touch with the young families that make up much of Hesperia.

"The biggest problem I see is juvenile crime. We need to enforce the juvenile curfew. It's not that hard to enforce," Garner said. After curfew is "when the tagging takes place, and the other crime."

She's also like to see the city "clean up the streets. [Abandoned] shopping carts; they're a hazard. I don't know how many of them I've almost hit. Require grocery stores to put locks on them or fine the stores for each that are found" off their property.

She'd like to see the city expand the play area at Hesperia Civic Park to provide another place for families with young children to congregate.

"I looked up playground sets: For $33,000, they could have had the biggest playground sets that could take 110 kids. ... There's really no place to take our families and no room for the people in the places that we do have."

A long-time resident -- she's a graduate of Hesperia High School -- she opposes the city council's attempts in recent years to curtail some of the liberties pre-incorporation residents are used to.

"I would not have pushed the police to patrol private land for off-roaders," Garner said.

She does give the current city council credit for pulling back from their initial plans to regulate trucking within the city earlier this year: "Thank goodness we had some level-headed people on the council."

But like other candidates this political season, Garner criticizes the city for not doing enough to attract commercial development in the city.

Apple Valley "built [the Jess Ranch Marketplace] so quick. If the city actually wanted business, they could streamline the process," she said. "One of my clients the other day was going to open a business here, but it was too hard, so he opened in Apple Valley instead."

Hesperia is promoting commercial development in certain areas of the city, but Garner said the economic development department should be paying attention to both sides of the BNSF railroad tracks that bisect the city.

"The city's pushing all that stuff by the freeway. What about all the people over here?" she said. "They're going to build all that stuff over there and there aren't even people to support it. ... Our tax dollars are just going to keep going to other cities."

Although she's had at least one offer of financial assistance, Garner's likely to run a much leaner campaign than the more connected candidates. She hopes that what she has to offer will carry the day despite not having deep pockets for campaign advertising.

"I'm not a politician. ... It's not my lifelong dream to be a politician," she said. "They need a younger voice in there. It's been the same generation in there too long."

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