Her candidacy for Apple Valley Town Council came about, Janate Valenzuela said, “because I know I can be the ethical and informed council member Apple Valley residents deserve. I aim to be the voice of those who are currently voiceless in our town. While I have no intentions of ignoring any resident of Apple Valley, it is very apparent that not every resident is equal in the eyes of our current council. I would change this mentality to be inclusive, not exclusive. Also, I want to see a town council that reflects the diversity in Apple Valley.”
Valenzuela said, “This council has put the safety and well-being of children second to that of profits. I know children are not allowed to vote, but they do grow up, and they will learn about how their elected officials regarded them. I want children to know that someone cared about them enough to speak up on their behalf. This council has not been checked enough by the people. I believe that the town council perceives the lack of people attending town council meetings as a sign that they are doing well. In reality, the residents of Apple Valley are preoccupied with responsibilities, distracted, or not knowledgeable of the actions of the council which would allow or motivate people to attend town council meetings.”
She is qualified to hold the position of town council member, Valenzuela said, by both her skill set and sensitivity. “Given my legal education and experience, I can read and interpret laws that affect the residents of Apple Valley,” she said. “Further, I understand the legal consequences of actions taken by the town council. I can issue-spot and problem solve, which are skills necessary for this position. It is a specialized skill to be able to pinpoint the actual issue. People are oftentimes blinded by selfish intentions or naïve beliefs and are unable to see the true issue and therefore unable to provide a proper solution. This position is that of a civil servant. I have held other positions within the community that are to the sole service of others and I am therefore not new to this concept. I hold dear the idea that this position offers an opportunity for the people to have someone represent them.”
She is distinguished from her opponents in the race, Valenzuela said, in that she has a demonstrated record of sincere concern for the community, which she has acted upon. “While I have attended town hall meetings throughout my life here in Apple Valley, upon my return home to Apple Valley from law school I became more vocal during town hall meetings,” she said. “When I strongly disagreed with the town council’s reasoning or lack of fact finding, I would speak up during public comments or during specific agenda items. I did not wait until it was politically convenient to show up to events and town hall meetings. I have been listening to Apple Valley residents and I have already taken it upon myself to speak up for those who are not currently represented. I am here in Apple Valley. I have been in Apple Valley. I am here at the town hall pulpit. I already speak up for my fellow residents, and I know I can do more as a council member.”
The major issues facing the town, Valenzuela said, consist of “wasteful spending and government overstep by our current town council. Apple Valley bought the golf course and other properties that are proving to be financial burdens. Now, the town council wants to acquire water rights. They believe they can lower costs, even though an economic report the town funded and a third party report both showed that this would not be the case for the consumer residents within the next decade. Meanwhile, the town council has already spent millions upon millions on litigation costs, and we are still in the thick of the litigation. Further, there is no precedent for towns or cities to be successful in such a type of case in California. Yes, water costs are high. However, this litigation is not how we fix the costs.”
Valenzuela continued, “Council members are overstepping their authority. Governments should be transparent and remain in the confines of their duties and authority. It is not proper for governments, at any level, to take it upon themselves to bend the rules or stretch their authority. At times, the current council exhibits myopic behavior that leaves the citizens of Apple Valley to pay for their shortcomings. In the eminent domain case for water acquisition, the legal fees alone are millions. Other times, the council acted for no reason other than greed. For example, the current council allowed Verizon to install a 60 foot telecommunications pole in Mendel Park near the playground and classrooms of Mariana Elementary. The municipal code does not allow for such a telecommunications pole to be put there, given its proximity to homes and schools. Verizon needed to comport to five different zoning regulations and the pole’s location required very large variances on four of those regulations. The current town council gave all the requested variances. It should be noted that the Apple Valley municipal code only authorizes the council to give “minor variances,” and these were not minor variances. I believe the current council overstepped its authority in allowing Verizon to stick their pole where they wanted. Why would they do this? It has been made known that one of the council members rents land to Verizon and while he abstained from the initial vote for these variances, he did not abstain from voting to deny the appeal of the variance approval, which I believe was a conflict of interest and therefore a violation of his duty of loyalty. Further, when the council gave notice of the proposed telecommunication pole installation to those who lived in the 1,500 foot radius of the telecommunications pole installation site, which is prescribed by the municipal code, the council failed to realize that a majority of Mariana Elementary students are bused into school and therefore do not live within the 1,500 foot radius. Therefore, while the council’s actions did comport with the law, they failed to maintain government transparency. If they are truly representing the people, the people should have actual knowledge of their actions.”
In addition, Valenzuela said, “I am well aware that our town is facing other issues such as the increasing costs of water and the issue of keeping our lot sizes to a minimum of a half-acre. I too would like to see lower water costs, but done through reasonable and fiscally responsible means. I also support keeping our lot sizes to a minimum of a half-acre, as to maintain what Apple Valley is known for, our generous and beautiful lot sizes.”
The town can easily redress the issues facing it, Valenzuela said. “The town council should act within its authority and should cease trying to acquire costly services, and it should sell burdensome properties,” she said. “By disgorging financially burdensome properties and ceasing ongoing litigation, the town would thereby reduce costs.”
Valenzuela said, “A majority of my government experience lies within the judicial branch of government. It is in that capacity that I have seen the effects of a properly written law and what happens when there is a law that is written too broadly or which perhaps does not solve a particular issue. Further, I have seen the importance of having elected officials truly represent the will of the people, for when they do not, obscure and special interests take precedence over the true needs of the people.”
An Apple Valley native, Valenzuela has lived in Apple Valley, she said, “all my life with the exception of my undergraduate and graduate studies. After law school, I came back home to Apple Valley.” She attended Apple Valley High School. “I triple lettered in band, mock trial and water polo. I represented Apple Valley in Hawaii with AVHS Band when we received the Aloha Spirit Award and more at the Heritage Festival. I was on the executive board for the Friends for Life Club and a member of the National Honor Society among other clubs at Apple Valley High School. Go Sundevils! Before high school and throughout, I have proudly represented Apple Valley and I have been a part of various communities and organizations within Apple Valley.”
Valenzuela double-majored in political science and philosophy and graduated with university honors from California State University Long Beach. She obtained her juris doctor from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego with a dean’s scholarship.
She is currently employed by Apple Valley Unified School District as a substitute teacher.
Maintaining “the people of Apple Valley deserve the best,” Valenzuela said, “I care about the residents of Apple Valley and I have demonstrated this to be true through my actions. I am running for town council because I know I could do much more for Apple Valley residents when I am not restricted to a three minute talking time limit or writing letters to departments within the town.”