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Fate of six city council candidates on the line Tuesday

SPECIAL TO THE DESERT DISPATCH

BARSTOW • On Tuesday, voters will decide which two of the six candidates will serve for the next four years on Barstow’s City Council.
The candidates are Martin Ashbrook, Robert Haroldsson, Richard Harpole, Carmen Hernandez, Ghassan “Gus” Nassar and incumbent Timothy Saenz.
Martin Ashbrook is a pastor and business owner who describes himself as a concerned local citizen. He said Barstow’s biggest challenges are business and jobs, incomplete road projects and smart growth and sustainable development.
“It’s time to rebuild our city by making it more business friendly and focusing on beautifying only where it’s needed,” he said.
Robert Haroldsson is a maintenance manager and said he believes his working background has prepared him to understand people and technical aspects of projects. He said that drugs, a lack of a qualified labor pool and a limited job market are the city’s biggest challenges.
“Working with the college, high schools and employers is the key to finding solutions for a poorly qualified labor pool,” he said.
Richard Harpole is a retired Barstow Police lieutenant and worked as an officer in the city for 23 years. If elected, he said he’ll work to remove “red tape” in government to better use the city’s resources.
“My priorities include improving development to increase jobs, protecting the city’s financial health, improving the quality of life in Barstow and ensuring public safety,” he said.
Carmen Hernandez has been a Barstow planning commissioner since 2005 and graduated from California State University, San Bernardino with a master’s degree. She said the biggest issues facing Barstow are keeping and obtaining jobs, keeping and getting businesses to locate to Barstow and a lack of communication between residents and the City Council.
“I have attended and participated in City Council, Street Committee and Wastewater meetings to keep myself informed as to what the current issues and needs are of the city,” she said.
Ghassan “Gus” Nassar holds a master’s degree in business and describes his work experience as developing rundown properties and nourishing failed businesses into life. He said the biggest challenges facing Barstow are creating good paying jobs and having the infrastructure to accommodate medium and large businesses.
“Investing in the city’s infrastructure is essential to invite new businesses; thus creating new jobs and expanding our tax base,” he said.
Timothy Saenz is an incumbent council member and works as a technical manager for Vulcan Materials Company. He said the three biggest challenges facing the city are economic development, infrastructure and water sources.
“I am running for office to continue the positive momentum the Council has made the past four years and to continue my pursuit of bringing jobs to Barstow,” he said.
All candidates except Mr. Nassar said they didn’t think a lifetime health care benefit policy should continue for City Council members, although two stated they were not opposed to sitting members receiving coverage.
Election day is Tuesday and preliminary winners of the election should be announced late that night. Follow www.DesertDispatch.com for live election coverage and read the full results in Wednesday’s edition of the paper.


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