Ontario Mayor Paul Leon said he is the best candidate in the field of six running for State Senate in the 32nd District.
That race, which involves polling to be held on March 12 to choose someone to fill out the remaining two years of Gloria Negrete-McLeod’s term, pits Leon against Assemblywoman Norma Torres, San Bernardino County Treasurer-Tax Collector-Auditor-Controller Larry Walker, Pomona Planning Commissioner Ken Coble, Ontario City Councilman Paul Vincent Avila and Rialto School Board Member Joanne Gilbert. The election was necessitated by Negrete-Mcleod’s election to Congress in November.
Leon said the theme of his campaign will be “Creating Jobs in the Inland Empire” and that he will achieve that goal by a wholesale slashing of red tape.
“The first thing we have to do is roll back job killing regulation and prevent any further job killing bills from being passed,” Leon said. “I will go through the books like a Roto-Rooter to find the worst laws that are still in effect prohibiting businesses from being successful. I would also like to see put in place a program that replaces redevelopment and gives cities the tools to be productive again.”
Two of Leon’s strongest and best funded competitors in the race are Torres and Walker. All three have served as mayors. In Torres’ case, she was Pomona mayor before she went on to the Assembly. Walker was Chino mayor and later a member of the county board of supervisors before achieving the post of auditor controller. Leon acknowledged that Torres and Walker had held leadership posts equal to his own but said he stands over them in terms of what he has achieved in that leadership role.
“What distinguishes me from them is what distinguishes Ontario from Pomona and Chino,” he said. “Look at Pomona when Norma was mayor and the legacy of what she left. Look at Chino when Larry was mayor and what came afterward. Then look at Ontario. There is no comparison. The record speaks for itself.”
Ontario is the economic powerhouse among San Bernardino County’s 24 cities, with revenue into all of its funds – general, reserve, enterprise, special project, etc. – that dwarfs those of the others. The city’s $442,692,349 2012-13 budget is more than twice the size of the next largest spending city in the county.
“The success of the city of Ontario wasn’t an accident,” Leon said. “It took leadership that had the discipline and guts to say no when the money was flowing, so that now we are financially secure now that the flood gates of money coming in are closed. It wasn’t always popular to refuse growing our expenditures and expanding our programs, but today we aren’t closing our libraries and community centers and laying off our staff and reducing our city programs. All of those are just as robust and successful today as in the boom times. We are still living within our budget. The quality of life in Ontario never changed even though the economy fell through the floor. You cannot say that for those other cities. Ask anyone where they would want to live – in Chino of the 80s or Pomona of a few years ago or Ontario today and in the future. Investing in Ontario and living here is not a bad decision. Ontario has a bright future. I think I had something to do with that.”
Leon said that since he understands what it takes to run a city efficiently, he can take that knowledge to Sacramento and advocate on behalf of local citizens and governments to ensure that the state government does not bully smaller agencies and governments and the taxpayers to maintain its bloated and inefficient, tax-wasting programs.
“Becoming state senator will give me a great opportunity to speak with not only members of the legislature but public officials at the local level and share my ideas and vision,” he said. “I do believe local government is important. Local government should get every opportunity to control its own destiny and govern itself. I do not think the state should take away from local governments the opportunity to make decisions for themselves. My goal will be to make decisions in Sacramento that will support those at the local level and shape laws and regulations that are beneficial and not restrictive. Members of the legislature are permitted to go back after the fact and change the record on the way they voted, even though that doesn’t change the result of the vote. I will never change my vote or change the record to reflect that I voted any differently than the votes I actually cast. I will study the issues before I vote. I will not cast a vote if I do not know ahead of time the impact my vote will have. For a public official to vote one way and then say later he voted a different way is completely ridiculous.”
If he is sent to Sacramento, Leon vowed that he would fight to ensure that the state government “keeps its promise with Proposition 30,” which was passed by voters in November. “Proposition 30 was the best smoke and mirrors bait and switch proposition I have seen in years. They singled out schools and college tuition as the reason to increase our taxes, telling everyone that if this wasn’t passed they would have to take money from our schools and that the tax money would be kept for education. They used to say the same thing about the fire departments and the police departments but with pensions being the negative issue out there it became an easier target to threaten that the schools would be cut drastically. Now they are using that money for things other than schools. I would sponsor legislation that would prevent the legislature or the governor from threatening schools with budget reductions until Proposition 30 is no longer on the books.”
Leon said, “I believe I am the right person at the right time in the right place for this position. I think I look like and I share commonality with the population of this region. I share a culture and history with the people of the 32nd District, I have a great track record in running the most successful city in this region and I want to build on that by becoming a representative on a much broader level.”