Two Democrats, An Independent, And A Single Republican On Ballot In The 5th District

At the end of the year, Josie Gonzales, the senior member of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors who has represented the county’s Fifth Supervisorial District since 2004, will leave office, being obliged to do so as a consequence of the three term limit that was placed on the board as a consequence of the 2006 passage of Measure P, which raised the annual salaries of the members of the board of supervisors from $99,000 to $151,000 but reduced the time they could remain in the capacity of county supervisor from that point going forward. As the first term to which Gonzales was elected, running from 2004 to 2008, did not fall under the Measure P restriction, she was eligible to be reelected in 2008, 2012 and 2016. She was successful in remaining in office with each of those election cycles.
Gonzales is now looking to turn the Fifth District’s reins over to her chief of staff, Dan Flores. Like Gonzales, Flores is a Democrat.
Though county offices are considered nonpartisan ones, in San Bernardino County party affiliation is a major factor in the determination of who will hold public office. For some 40 years beginning in the mid-to-late-1960s, San Bernardino County was a Republican Party stronghold, with the number of registered Republicans outnumbering registered Democrats. The lone area of the county where the Republican command was attenuated was in the county’s heavily blue collar Fifth District. Even so, the Republicans often asserted themselves there, where Republican Bob Hammock was the Fifth District supervisor from 1976 until 1992. In 2009, the number of Republicans in San Bernardino County were eclipsed by the number of Democrats. Nevertheless, the number of Republican officeholders continues to outrun the number of Democrat Party-affiliated elected leaders overall in San Bernardino County, largely on the basis of much stronger voter turnout among Republicans than Democrats.
At present, the Fifth District is overwhelmingly Democratic, with 49.7 percent, or 91,248 of its 183,646 voters registered as members of the Democratic Party and 33,607 voters or 18.3 percent registered as Republicans. At present, the Fifth District is the only district in the county with a Democrat serving as supervisor. Although in all of the county’s districts registered Democrats outnumber Republicans, nowhere is that disparity as pronounced as it is in the Fifth District.
Another Democrat, Joe Baca, Jr. is also running for supervisor in the Fifth District. Baca, a Rialto City Councilman, is the son of former California Assemblyman, State Senator and Congressman Joe Baca. As such, young Baca enjoys somewhat better name recognition than Flores, who in addition to being Gonzales’s top staffer, is also a member of the Colton Joint Unified School District’s Board of Trustees. Three factors, however, offset Baca’s name recognition advantage with regard to Flores. First, Flores has Gonzales’s endorsement. Second, he has a substantial fundraising lead over the rest of the field, including Baca, with $231,100 in his campaign war chest. Third, Gonzales has $691,237.10 in her electioneering kitty, and she is free to expend that money in support or other candidates, including Flores.
Baca currently has $25,290 in his campaign coffer.
Another candidate in the race is Nadia Renner, a businesswoman, who until recently served as a bilingual radio host for Entravision Communications and was a regular interviewer on a local talk show covering county issues. Available records show she has $4,700 in her supervisorial campaign fund. Renner has no party affiliation.
Fontana City Councilman Jesse Armendarez, a Republican, is also running. He outmaneuvered another Republican, Dr. Clifford Young, for the endorsement of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee earlier this year. Young was the appointed Fifth District supervisor in 2003 and 2004 before Gonzales was elected to that position. Young was contemplating again seeking the Fifth District supervisorial post, but ended his preparations to run when Armendarez captured the GOP endorsement.
Armendarez, who is a member of the ruling coalition on the Fontana City Council headed by Mayor Acquanetta Warren, has also obtained Warren’s endorsement for the supervisorial position.
Armendarez currently has $44,636.49 in his political account.
While any Republican vying for supervisor in the Fifth District is considered to be a long shot given the voter registration numbers therein which so heavily favor the Democrats, Republican strategists hold out hope that the Democratic vote in the March 3 contest will be split between Baca and Flores in such a way that Armendarez can capture first or second place in that race. Thereafter, the Republicans hope to concentrate their firepower on Armendarez’s November opponent, whoever that proves to be, in a way that will give Armendarez a chance to win.
-Mark Gutglueck

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