Not Three Years In Office, Terral Resigns From Needles Council

Needles City Councilman Timothy Terral this week resigned from his elected position, some two years and eight months after assuming office in San Bernardino County’s smallest and easternmost city.
After an unsuccessful attempt at capturing a council position in 2016, Terral was victorious in November 2018, placing second among five candidates vying for three positions on the council.
Early in his tenure as a councilor, in Spring 2019 Terral sought state assistance in restoring the Needles Lagoon.
Terral and Needles Mayor Jeff Williams, a former sheriff’s deputy and a concealed weapons permit holder, noted that California’s stricter gun regulations vis-à-vis those in other states resulted in travelers or tourists from Utah, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and elsewhere, while traveling to California via Route 40, being obliged to unload their firearms upon crossing the Colorado River into the Golden State, and to keep their ammunition in a separate locked compartment, or risk arrest on a felony firearms charge.
Terral and Williams garnered statewide and national attention, as they sponsored, in the summer of 2019, a resolution to declare Needles a Second Amendment sanctuary city, which was intended to suspend certain state laws pertaining to the carrying of loaded firearms.
The Second Amendment sanctuary resolution, which was passed by the city council, called upon local law enforcement, meaning the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol, standing down with regard to enforcing firearms regulations under California law in Needles. That extended to allowing Needles residents to travel outside of the state to purchase ammunition, which runs counter to California law, intended to ensure that citizens buy bullets in California, where vendors are required to comprehensively log ammunition sales, capturing the identity of the buyer and the precise type and batch of bullets sold.
Using the term sanctuary in the resolution Terral proposed was deliberate, as he recognized that the proposal was calling for the suspension of state law. To neutralize charges or accusations that he was advocating lawlessness, the name for the resolution Terral used harkened to the ongoing movement by the State of California’s so-called progressive element, embodied by the Democrats who controlled then and still control both houses of the legislature as well as the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, superintendent of schools, comptroller and auditor, all of whom were and are calling for California to serve as a sanctuary state, that is, one in which federal immigration laws were not enforced.
Terral was a fierce supporter of then-President Donald Trump as well as Republican and Right Wing causes. This put him within the mainstream among a sizable contingent of Needles residents. Nevertheless, the political initiatives he championed often fell outside the purview of local officials and the city council of which he was a member.
Terral’s so-called conservative philosophy was out of step with what has proven out as the major social, political and legal trend in Needles in the last decade, that being the city’s marijuanification.
After 89 years of marijuana being strictly illegal in California, in 1996 the state’s voters passed Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use of Marijuana Act, which made marijuana legal for medical purposes, pursuant to a user of the substance obtaining a prescription for it from a licensed medical doctor. San Bernardino County and all of its political subdivisions, however, were unaccepting of that shift altogether for most of the next 16 years, such that neither the county nor its 22 incorporated cities and its two incorporated towns allowed marijuana dispensaries to set up operations within their confines.
Needles in 2012 became the first municipality in San Bernardino County to permit and license dispensaries. This occurred some four years before California voters passed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, Proposition 64, in 2016, making the use of marijuana for its intoxicative effect legal for those 21 years of age or older. Progressives hailed Needles’ 2012 action while traditionalists were opposed to it.
Terral came into office in 2018, as Needles was involved in a competition with another cash-strapped San Bernardino County city, Adelanto, in an effort to exploit the liberalization of California’s marijuana laws to get in on the ground floor of the commercialization of marijuana, by permitting widespread operation of marijuana cultivation facilities and marijuana boutiques and retail stores and layering a sales/operation tax on those entities to generate revenue.
As a conservative Republican who was potentially looking toward higher office, Terral was torn between the ethos of the city and the city council he was a part of and the Republican Party, which hewed more toward the historical attitude that marijuana and its use is adverse to an orderly and civilized society.
Abiding by the strictures of Terral’s party-affiliation and socially conservative roots was put to the test when in 2019 his wife was offered a lucrative job at a marijuana-related commercial operation in Needles. In the end, she elected not to go to work there because of the suggestion this would entail a conflict on her husband’s part whenever issues relating to cannabis commercial activity came before the city council. Not having his wife entangled with the cannabis industry preserved for Terral his reputation as a true red rock-ribbed Republican.
At this point, however, Terral’s political ambition appears to have abandoned him, and he on Tuesday announced he was giving up the elective office he held. Incumbency is, electoral statistics show, an advantage in being reelected to the office one holds as well as a relative advantage when seeking another elective office. It would thus appear that holding onto the office of city councilman or vying for another elective post such as state assemblyman or state senator is no longer a priority for Terral.
The 52-year-old cited personal and business reasons for tendering his resignation. He is employed as a cable company technician and his parents operate a local bed and breakfast inn.
Terral’s resignation from the Needles City Council is the second one from that august panel in two years. Former Councilman Clayton Hazlewood resigned his office on December 10, 2019.
-Mark Gutglueck

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