Nine Victorville Council Candidates On How They Will Govern If Elected This Year

A total of 22 candidates are seeking election to the Victorville City Council in this year’s election in which three positions are at stake. Two of those candidates, Gloria Garcia, the current designated mayor, and Councilwoman Blanca Gomez, are incumbents. Jim Cox, the third incumbent, is not seeking reelection.
The Sentinel has sought information from all of the candidates in this year’s race, and has so far been able to publish articles containing biographical information on six of those hopefuls as well as their positions relating to the current issues in Victorville.
To fill in the gaps with regard to many of the other candidates who are running, the Sentinel has mined public sources for a glimpse of how nine of them present themselves with regard to their intentions for Victorville if they are elected.
Saying she “embraces the feel of the High Desert,” which she said “is exactly a serene country life with a ‘little bit’ of a city twist,” Lizet Angulo said, “It is without saying, our city needs to increase the revenues in our city, to meet the needs to our community. I would like to do “Coffee with Lizet” gatherings for discussions throughout our city as a councilmember. Communication is one of keys in building a strong council and city.”
She possesses, Angulo said, an associate’s degree in business management, a bachelor’s degree in higher education administration and a master’s degree in business administration. She has a medical insurance billing certificate. She is a teaching entrepreneurship instructor, and was formerly employed as a medical office manager, an executive assistant/bookkeeper in the industrial field and a compliance coordinator with an educational facility.
Ashiko Newman said, “My childhood was rough, but those hurdles did not defeat me.” She said that she has “served others for my entire career. As a Navy veteran, I made a commitment to sacrifice in efforts to protect and serve our country. I learned valuable lessons regarding teamwork, service, and commitment. I earned a master’s degree in social work, not only to continue this mission, but also because of my own history. For the past ten years, I have fought as a social worker, dedicated to children and families, to ensure that strong homes and communities are built and solidified. However, victory is never gained alone. It takes a strong, committed team. As member of the Victorville City Council, I intend to take my experience as a leader and commitment to others, and work to be the voice of the people. A good leader must first serve others well.”
If elected, she said, “I intend to bring a team-centered approach to race reconciliation, public safety, accountability/transparency. Victorville needs homeless solutions, safe neighborhoods, and positive connections with law enforcement. I aim to be the change I want to see.”
Ryan McEachron, who previously served on the city council said, “Throughout the last several decades, I have owned and operated a third-generation small business in Victorville. My company was started by my grandfather and throughout the past few decades, we have grown into a thriving insurance agency and have employed dozens of local High Desert residents. Our family is also very involved in education. My wife, Jodi, works with our local students at The Dr. Ralph Baker 21st Century Learning Center and our 2 children have all attended local schools.”
McEachron said, “Victorville needs change. We have continued to watch crime go up, roads go into despair, and the COVID-19 pandemic has decimated our small businesses. I am running for Victorville City Council to represent our family values, combat crime and gangs, reduce homelessness, support our local businesses and drive meaningful development to our local road infrastructure. There is so much to do to drive positive change to Victorville.”
Born in Canada, Robert Bowen came to the United States with his parents and was naturalized as a U.S. citizen when he was 11.
He was employed in the aircraft industry after serving a hitch in the Marine Corps.
Bowen maintains he wants to end dissension on the city council and bring order to its meetings. He is a capable leader, he said, but is not a politician. He suggested most career politicians are untrustworthy.
Bowen originally moved to Victorville in 2005, but was forced by changes in the aeronautics industry to locate to Seattle and then San Antonio, Texas as a consequence of his employment by Boeing. He is back in Victorville now, retired and ready to serve the city, he said.
Upon being elected, Bowen said, he will dedicate himself to reducing crime, eliminating homeless encampments and reducing the blight plaguing the city. Bowen is an enthusiastic supporter of Measure P, which will increase the city’s sale tax by one cent per dollar spent. He scoffed at those opposed to the tax increase, calling it “small.”
He will facilitate communication among the city’s residents, Bowen said.
Bowen and his wife, Sandra, have have three adult children and seven grandchildren.
An advocate for social improvement, Kareema Abdul-Khabir is originally from Akron, Ohio, and has lived in the High Desert since 1992 and Victorville since 2012.
Abdul-Khabir maintains there is a relationship between economic and social justice and that the local economy should be a source of income and opportunity for all individuals and families living in the city. The city should look after the homeless and other unfortunate victims of the failing economy, she said. The city should not be afraid of funding park and recreational programs, providing assistance to the needy and keeping its library open.
She will magnify the voices of those who want to be heard by City Hall, Abdul-Khabir said. The city’s greatest strength can be realized by its effort to address its weaknesses, Abdul-Khabir maintains.
Abdul-Khabir warned against the mindless and reflexive tendency to simply hire more police officers if the city’s residents agree to give passage to the one cent sales tax enhancing Measure P. More police will likely mean more police-on-citizen abuse, Abdul-Khabir opined.
Abdul-Khabir called for the city holding more town hall meetings to get a consensus of the citizens with regard to proposed municipal action before acting on those proposals.
Abdul-Khabir was a board member with the High Desert Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She has advocated against the continued operation of private prisons housing those detained by the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on immigration violations.
Abdul-Khabir has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California, Irvine. She has been employed as a teacher with the Barstow Unified and Victor Valley Union high school districts.
Now 84, current Victorville Mayor Gloria Garcia has been a member of the city council since 2012. She is vying in this year’s election to remain in office for four more years.
She said she is a voice of compassion for the 333 homeless people who live on Victorville’s streets, on the banks of or the flood plane of the Mojave River and in the city’s numerous encampments of the dispossessed.
“We have already begun work redressing our homeless problem,” she said. “I want to continue to make available long term transitional living and training to these people so they can become self-sufficient.”
She said the city is banking on obtaining more than $16 million in grant funding to carry out the lion’s share of the construction of a 168-bed homeless shelter to be built on 10 acres adjoining Eva Dell Park.
Garcia can be credited, along with others, she said, for reestablishing the Victorville Fire Department as a municipal agency after the city liquidated that institution for more than ten years in favor of contracting with San Bernardino County for fire protection services.
She has been a team player on a number of worthwhile undertakings, she said, including the La Mesa/Nisqualli Interchange bridge project, the Mojave Riverwalk and the advent of Restaurant Row.
Garcia said she is a hardcore supporter of the sheriff’s department, indicating she is absolutely against defunding law enforcement agencies, and that she wants more, not fewer, sheriff’s deputies patrolling Victorville’s streets.
The founder, owner and operator of a bookkeeping, income tax preparation and notary service since 1974, Garcia is a Victorville native and, she insists, the city’s most vociferous advocate for economic development.
“Our whole way of life and our quality of life is dependent upon us bringing in industry and commercial development with substantial wages and benefits, so our residents can work here, better themselves and raise families,” she said.
She called upon the city’s voters to return her to office and on the same ballot approve Measure P, which would increase the city’s sales tax by one percent, creating a $15 million revenue stream in the process, which she said the city’s officials will put to good use.
Widowed in 2014, Garcia has two grown sons.
Leslie Irving said her candidacy for city council this year, which follows by two years her previous effort to achieve election to that panel, is an opportunity for the community to make use of her wealth of knowledge within the realm of civic affairs and education.
She has a commitment, Irving said, “to public service and our City of Victorville and its future. As our city continues to experience rapid residential and business growth, I see an opportunity to use my experience and commitment to assist our city in realizing its potential to become the hub of economic, educational and social prosperity in the High Desert.”
She possesses, Irving said, “the education and experience to serve as a strong steward for our city. I have previously served in elected office, as a former school board member and college board member. I have first-hand knowledge and experience of how to work together with other committed persons to accomplish our community’s mission. I will bring that knowledge and experience to our city to enable it to become the great city that it can become.”
A native of Los Angeles County, Irving, now 56, moved to Victorville in 2016. In 2003, while she was then living in Los Angeles County, Irving was elected and served as a member of the Compton Unified School District Board of Trustees. In 2013, she served as a member of the Compton College Board of Trustees.
“During my tenure as a school board member, I experienced the complexities of leading the school district out of receivership and fiscal insolvency and to restoration of local control,” Irving said. “With sound knowledge of processes and systems, perseverance to stay the course and solid leadership skills, my former colleagues and I demonstrated a style of governance that made community control of the school district a viable and sensible reality.”
Irving said, “The major challenges facing our city relate to jobs creation, developing our infrastructure to accommodate our growing population, addressing our homeless population and providing more services for our youth and seniors.”
Irving said her presence on the city council would imbue the community with “a greater sense of community, the need for inclusiveness and accountability.”
She is employed as a special education teacher. She is a member of the San Bernardino County Teachers Association, the Victor Valley National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Victor Valley Chamber of Commerce and the National Women’s Political Caucus.
Irving is not presently married and has one adult son, Ian.
Victorville City Council candidate Elizabeth Becerra has an intimate knowledge of the city she is seeking to lead politically. She is a Victorville native and a 34-year city employee, the last several of which she has worked in the capacity of a supervisor in the public works department.
She knows the city inside and out, Becerra maintains. This gives her, she said, not only a sharp and near perspective on what the problems are but a leg up on how to apply solutions for fixing them.
Becerra is a member of the San Bernardino County Fair Board. The fairgrounds are located in Victorville.
She has a commitment to public safety and the practical knowledge to ensure that it is maintained, she said.
Becerra is an unabashed supporter of Measure P, which will provide the city with a further one percent of sales tax on all goods sold within the city.
As a city employee who has had to deal with the proliferation of homeless encampments and been tasked with cleaning them up in the aftermath of their denizens taking leave of them, Becerra has expressed less willingness to indulge the dispossessed in the city than some of the others running for office, and she is definitely against mollycoddling them. She wants the homeless to be evacuated from where they are squatting, either on public or private property or in the riverbed or on the riverbanks. Those who are willing to undergo treatment should be processed into the institutions that can provide that and those not willing to, in her words, “get help” with their drug use problems or mental illness should be persuaded to leave town.
The homeless have been responsible for fires and vandalism and other damage that have cost the city and its residents millions of dollars, she said.
Becerra has studied public administration at Victor Valley College.
Currently unmarried, Becerra has two grown children and two grandchildren.
Kimberly Mesen-Herrera says she has taken a good look at Victorville and what she sees isn’t pretty.
“As a lifelong Victorville resident, I’ve witnessed our city change – and not for the better,” she said. “Crime and homelessness continue to increase, our students are falling behind, and our small businesses are stagnating.”
The city’s deterioration is something that is taking place outside her personal sphere, Mesen-Herrera insisted. What is needed is for the city’s voters to give her the keys to City Hall so she can take a stab at improving things. She has already demonstrated the right attitude, she said.
“After graduating from Victor Valley High School and Cal State University San Bernardino, I wanted to serve my community by working for Congressman Colonel Paul Cook,” Mesen-Herrera said. “As his veterans services director, I have dealt firsthand with the tragedy that is veterans’ homelessness. I’m proud to help our heroes secure stable housing, access to Veterans Administration benefits, and the medical care they deserve.”
Mesen Herrera said, “As Victorville’s crime rates continue to increase, we must ensure our families have safe and secure neighborhoods. I’ll work with local community leaders to build trust and foster understanding. As the next generation enters the workforce, it is critical that they have local jobs to start a career, raise a family, and build a meaningful life. I’ll support the small business community to ensure they receive the help they need to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger than ever. My family, like yours, moved to Victorville and found a safe community, good schools, and a strong economy. With your vote, I will restore the promise of our city.”

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