Eschewing Insider Status, Council Candidate Barton Says His Talents Will Benefit Big Bear

In this year’s District 4 Big Bear Lake City Council race, Robert Barton, an attorney licensed to practice in California, New York and Washington, D.C., is seeking to employ his training and expertise in the legal realm to guide municipal operations in the mountain tourism hamlet.
“Lawyers have a duty to use their education on behalf of the public when appropriate,” Barton said. “I believe I have talents and experience that can be beneficial to the community.”
He is qualified to hold the position of city councilman, Barton suggested, because “I’m not a politician and I have nothing to gain financially by running for this office. Thus, I can do what I believe is in the best interests of all residents and business owners.”
He is running against incumbent Councilwoman Perri Melnick, herself an attorney who was appointed to the council in July 2021, and Cory Blake Miholich, an engineering contractor who runs a restaurant in the city. Barton said he is not running against them in any way except the technical sense, as they are in opposition to one another on the ballot for the same position.“I’m told that I have two opponents,” he said, “and I know very little about either. At this point I will leave it to the voters to decide what distinguishes each candidate.”
He is not steeped, Barton said, in the pointed differences that divide the community, but has a basic understanding of the tension between the permanent residents, homeowners and cabin owners in the rustic mountain resort on one side and on the other the entrepreneurs and elements of the tourism industry and the short-term renters and guests who frequent the city for a day, weekend or a relatively short period of time while vacationing or making a quick getaway from Southern California’s urbanized areas.
“I’m not an insider, so I only know what’s generally known, and I take it all ‘with a grain of salt,’” Barton said. “At a minimum, I believe that the city needs 1) a better balance between short-term rentals and residents/vacation homes; 2) less redundancy in city offices, departments and retained vendors; and (3) more funding for law enforcement, fire and emergency services.”
He will redress these issues, Barton said, through research and sensitivity.
“I will start by gathering the facts… and listening to my constituents,” he said. “Among other things, I am told that residents pay for a disproportionate share of emergency services. I would hope that reducing governmental redundancy and increasing the transient occupancy tax would have a positive effect on the taxes paid by residents.”
The city can generate the money it needs to deal with the issues it faces by increasing the transient occupancy tax he referenced, which is also known as a bed tax or motel/hotel tax.
Barton, who has lived in Big Bear Lake for six years, emphasized that he has no previous experience relating to government outside of his professional function within courts of law. He asserted this was an advantage rather than a drawback.
“As stated previously, I am not a politician,” he said. “I am an attorney, a marketing professional and a local business owner with my law office.”
He attended and obtained his high school diploma from Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana, whereupon he attended Columbia College, Columbia University, obtaining his Bachelor of Arts degree as a pre-med student and thereafter moving over to the Columbia University Graduate School of Business where he obtained a master’s in business administration while studying marketing, finance and international business. He obtained a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. He passed the California Bar in 2001.
He was with the Law Firm of Dewey Ballantyne from 2001 to 2005 as a litigation associate and the firm of DLA Piper as a litigation associate from 2005 to 2009.
Previous to becoming a lawyer, he worked with the Compton Advertising Agency in New York City from 1970 to 1973, was a management supervisor with the SSC&B Lintas, Erwin Wasey advertising agency from 1973 to 1981, and served in the capacity of management supervisor with Young & Rubicam from 1982 to 1989, Asher-Gould in 1989 and 1990, returned to Lintas which was then in association with Campbell-Ewald from 1990 to 1993 and with Smith/Magee/Huss from 1994 to 1998.
He is at present the proprietor of the Law Office of Robert O. Barton, located in Big Bear Lake. His “big law firm experience” Barton said, “was high-dollar real estate litigation. Currently, I am a sole practitioner focusing on family law.”
Barton is married to Chi Kemp, who previously worked with the U.S. Attorneys’ Office and retired in 2017 from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
He is licensed as a real estate broker, a notary public and as a single engine aircraft pilot and aircraft airframe and powerplant mechanic.

Leave a Reply