In 2012, there aren't a lot of political candidates citing the value of being a political insider. But that's just what Michael Orme, one of seven men competing in the primary election for the 1st District's seat on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, is doing.
"When you go to a doctor's office, do you want a doctor working on you or the secretary?" Orme said. "You want someone who knows what they're doing."
Formerly a representative for 1st District supervisors Bill Postmus and Brad Mitzelfelt, Orme is currently a field representative for Congressman Buck McKeon.
"For every part of the district, I've been their representative at some point in time," he said. "I've always been able to find the happy medium between what the resident wants and what the government wants."
At 37, Orme is the second-youngest candidate in the race, and is only a year older than fellow candidate Jermaine Wright. Others in the race have been involved in politics as long as he's been alive.
"Just because someone's been involved longer doesn't mean they're better at it," he said. "Even though I've been (at the county) for 11 years, we're talking every single day, every single moment."
Orme has been around long enough in the county government to see a variety of ways to trim costs, he says, including selling sponsorships at county-owned parks, similar to a program in Orange County. He'd also go to staff members and act on their suggestions on ways to trim waste. He would also like to see the county offer tax credits to businesses that invest in infrastructure, and would form a business leaders' coalition that would meet monthly to offer ideas and voice concerns.
Orme would also make the Board of Supervisors more available to the public by not holding all their meetings on Tuesdays during the work day, "so that residents don't have to take time off work to voice their concerns."
"People say you need to run government like a business," said Orme, who received a degree in business management from California State University, Fullerton. "That's true to a point, but no one wants to hear, 'Sorry, we didn't budget for a (big fire).'"
That doesn't mean he's adverse to stealing a few pages from the business community's playbook: He'd require contractors to lock in a final bid price and not come back, after the bid was won with the county, and make "change orders" for additional expenses once the project was underway.
"A business would say, 'Your mistake, tough luck,'" he said. "There's plenty of people out there hungry for the work, so be a little stronger in what you're asking for and get the best deal for the residents."
If elected, Orme would put more teeth in the county's transparency guidelines, and allow constituents to better understand what their government is doing.
"(The board of supervisors) shouldn't have a problem with voting for it," he said. "It would make the public more comfortable."
But he's also careful to not over-promise during election season.
"I'm not going to promise something to the community that I can't do," he said, like improving the quality of local education, which is largely outside of the board of supervisor's authority. The board also can't force the sheriff to hire more deputies, but simply approve or reject his budget requests.
"I really think the community's tired of endless hope and promises," Orme said. "I think they'll respond to someone who tells it like it is, which is how I've always been."
Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.