One of Jermaine Wright's biggest advantages as a candidate for the San Bernardino County 1st District Supervisor's seat, in his mind, is who he is not.
"I'm not a career politician. ... I'm not tied to any of the corruption of the past," he said. "Five out of the seven (candidates) are tied to (Bill) Postmus in some way."
But his distance from the former supervisor and county assessor, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to accept a bribe, conflict of interest and to misappropriation of public funds, doesn't mean that he is any stranger to politics: Wright sits on the board of the Adelanto Elementary School District.
He ran for the school board in November 2010 — and lost. He was appointed to the board in August the next year, when board member Elaine Gonzales stepped down.
He had intended to serve a full two terms on the school board, but voters who had voted for him in the school board race told him to run for the supervisor's seat, he said.
"I fight for what I feel is right," he said. "At this point, there's bigger fish to fry. With all the corruption that's going on, I felt that my gifts could be better used as a county supervisor."
Wright says he's accomplished most of his goals on the Adelanto school board, toughening up the district's volunteer policy, making the board more available to the public and helping to change the image of the district.
"I didn't get up there to prove a point," he said. "I got up there to serve."
There's one big task as yet unfinished, though: turning around Desert Trails Elementary School.
Desert Trails parents fought a very public battle with the AESD, attempting to wrest control of the school away from the district and either oust those in charge or transform it into a charter school.
"I think the challenge is to let people know what the actual truth is," Wright said. The school's problems took years to develop and won't be resolved quickly, he said.
But that isn't to say the district hasn't been trying. The AESD brought in a principal known for turning around troubled schools.
"The man hadn't been in place 30 days when they turned in their petitions," Wright said.
The 36-year-old father of four has served as a pastor and currently manages his own transportation and real estate businesses. Like many of his fellow candidates, Wright says San Bernardino County needs to be a more welcoming place for businesses and fight corruption at the county level.
"You better believe I'm going to clean house," he said. "Those who worked for the corruption of the past are gone."
The board of supervisors has only recently turned its collective attention to ethics rules, term limits and reducing supervisor pay.
"These are things that should have been done a long time ago," he said.
If elected, Wright says he'd pursue pension reform, finding ways the county could work with local schools to improve education, streamline county departments, fill empty sheriff's department positions and stop deficit spending.
He'd also "put that CEO in his place," he said, wresting control of the county from Greg Devereaux. And he pledges to be a common sight in the 1st District and available to his constituents.
"You (only) see your supervisors when it's a photo op. That's got to change," he said. "It shouldn't be at the ballot box when you finally hear, 'Oh, I'm not doing a good job.'"
If elected, Wright intends to get in, accomplish his goals and leave.
"What is my legacy? I did a good job and got out," he said.
Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.