Once Accustomed To State & National Stage, Baca Seeking Municipal Role In Fontana

(October 29)  Former congressman Joe Baca said he is running for mayor in Fontana ”to take the city to a higher level. I’ve served in Congress and in the California Assembly and State Senate. I want to use my expertise to make Fontana a better place. I have worked with three different presidents – Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama and two governors, Pete Wilson and Grey Davis. When people ask me why I want to serve at the city level, I tell them I have the ability to work on a bipartisan basis to see projects to completion after I served in getting the federal  funding in place to start them. I served my country in time of war when I was in the Army and then in the state legislature and in Washington, D.C. I am blessed to be able to run for mayor now.”
Baca said, “I think the major issue Fontana is its leaders just don’t have a vision for what the city should be. There hasn’t been a master plan for the past ten years. The city should have been preparing for where it is going. Major problems facing us here in Fontana are we are experiencing higher and higher water rates and traffic congestion. I believe with the population growth we have to have a vision. San Bernardino’s population is down to 203,023.  Fontana is up to 206,000. We are now the largest city in the county. We need a plan that is worthy of our status as the county’s major city. We have to deal with the growth. We need a plan to take Fontana to a higher level. We need a plan that is inclusive of the whole city and its diversity.”
Baca offered a glimpse into his vision for the city.
“We have to focus on what is important to each of the city’s different areas,” he said. “We need roads and infrastructure. I’d love to see a movie theater in the northern portion of Fontana. We also need another sports complex to allow basketball, volleyball and wrestling to take place indoors for our youth. Right now, to get that, you have to lease athletic facilities from the high school.  I would like to see us build a hotel in the northern section of the city.  In the Duncan area around Citrus we need a retail square. I would like to see an opera theater outdoors to attract people from the surrounding communities, Redlands, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Upland and, of course, Fontana. I would like to see a California University in Fontana. In San Bernardino County we have community colleges and a Cal State University and private universities but we don’t have a UC system campus. I was instrumental in helping Merced when they got the University of California to come in there and I believe I could utilize my experience with the state legislature to get Fontana a University of California campus. We have access to the 15 Freeway, the 19 Freeway and the 210. I would love to see downtown Fontana become a cultural center for fashion and the arts. We need an amphitheater. With the right retails stores we can make it so we have something like Rodeo Drive and Palm Springs. We should bring the Kaiser Museum, which is currently located in Rancho Cucamonga, to our downtown area. I think we need a movie theater and retail stores in the south part of Fontana. We need recreation facilities for our youth. We have no urgent care facilities in Southridge. We have Kaiser Hospital but there is nothing on the other side of the freeway. I would like to see us reach out and put an annex of the boys and girls club on the south end of town. We have one in the north but nothing in the south. Boys and girls clubs are of assistance with after school programs and tutoring . I believe on the west side we should bring in a a national automobile training center associated with NASCAR for vocation training for mechanics. We could make it an attraction. We should attempt to bring professional soccer to Fontana.    We need to work with kindergarten through 12th grade education and a university to make sure our kids are prepared not only for the jobs of today but the jobs of tomorrow. We need a collaboration, a partnership with businesses. Teamwork will make the dream work.”
This year, five candidates are vying in the Fontana mayoral race – Baca, incumbent Acquanetta Warren, Luis Vaquera, Daniel Quiroga, and Jason O’Brien. For many political observers, the race is deemed to be one between Warren and Baca, the two who boast the greatest name recognition as well as the most experience in office.
Baca compared himself to Warren.
“The incumbent has no vision,” he said. “This city must deal with its growth.  It has grown, but that was because of the efforts of the two previous mayors, Mark Nuaimi and Dave Eshleman.  Fontana does not have a ten-year plan. It has not updated its general plan since she has been mayor.  There are a lot of positive things about Fontana, but she was not the one who instigated those. It was the mayors before her. She has been mayor for four years. We should have a new general plan or be well into the process. We have to look at growth and our population and see how we are going to meet our needs in the future.”

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