HESPERIA — As the regional political scene heats up for California's June primary, two local councilmen have announced their intentions for the November election.
The Hesperia City Council will have a new look by year’s end after Councilman Mike Leonard told the Daily Press on Monday that he won’t be making an re-election bid. This comes just after Councilman Eric Schmidt announced that he’ll seek a second term on the Council.
With Mayor Bill Holland and Mayor Pro Tem Paul Russ both making a bid for San Bernardino County 1st District Supervisor Robert Lovingood's position, there may be three Council seats up for grabs should either one be elected to the county position.
“I think I’ve done my part in the city of Hesperia,” Leonard said, after serving on the Hesperia Council for nearly 12 years and working for the Hesperia and San Bernardino County fire departments for 30 years.
Leonard, who’s been married to his wife, Lana, for 48 years, said he’s also served on the Victor Valley Transit Authority Board and with San Bernardino County Associated Governments and he’s ready to spend time with his family.
The motivating factor behind Schmidt making a bid for another four years on the City Council is his feeling that “families can benefit from my passion to provide a brighter future” for Hesperia.
“I have lived in Hesperia since 1980, raised my family in Hesperia, and I am dedicated to seeing my hometown reach its full potential as a vibrant community with ample opportunities for our citizens,” Schmidt told the Daily Press. “The duty of representing our city is not done.”
Schmidt, who was first elected in 2012, said the City Council has accomplished a lot during his tenure, but he emphasized that they must continue to maintain financial stability and focus more attention on economic development.
“Throughout my first term on the City Council, Hesperia has experienced dynamic growth and revitalization,” said Schmidt, an engineer and the co-founder and president of aerospace company Exquadrum. “If elected to another term, I plan to foster and maintain this positive trend.”
Regarding the future of the Council and possibly losing Holland or Russ, Leonard said newly seated City Manager Nils Bentsen and his staff will have their hands full.
“We lost a lot of senior staff over the last year, so Nils and his team will have a tough road to hoe,” Leonard said. “When you lose years of knowledge and experience, the future is going to be a challenge.”
Schmidt said with the primary election for county supervisor coming up in June, he’ll have to wait to see the outcome of the race before he can assess potential challenges in the future, adding that “regardless of the outcome, I will continue to work on behalf of our neighbors in Hesperia.”
Since neither Holland's or Russ' seats would otherwise be open for election this year, the city has three options in the event either man is elected outright in June: the City could appoint a council member, hold a special election or leave the position open for the next two years, which is unlikely.
"According to our City Clerk, the Council would make that decision within 60 days of the vacancy to decide whether to call a special election or to appoint a new member to fill out the rest of the term," city spokeswoman Rachel Molina said in an email to the Daily Press on Monday. "In either case, the new member would only be filling out the 2 years remaining on that specific term."
Information on Schmidt can be found online at facebook.com/joinericschmidt.
Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, RDeLa Cruz@VVDailyPress.com or on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.