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Mitzelfelt reflects on last four years
APPLE VALLEY • As 1st District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt is wrapping up his tenure, he summed up his post by stating: "It was a difficult time to serve."
Mitzelfelt, who took office in June 2008, explained that because of the shape of the economy, he was able to do some —but not all — of the things he wanted to do.
“When I look at what I said I wanted to do and what I was able to do ... a lot of stuff I was not able to do but I was able to initiate or push forward with,” Mitzelfelt said. “I’m pretty happy with the circumstances of what we were able to do.”
Mitzelfelt served as the president of the San Bernardino Associated Governments from 2010-11, a position he believes brought local governments together and increased communication between municipalities.
“Local governments in the past had a tendency not to talk to each other,” Mitzelfelt said, explaining that SANBAG aided in the collaboration between them. Mitzelfelt said that in the future, he believes the High Desert should develop its own metropolitan planning organization, which will facilitate them in their work with the federal government, instead of having to work through the county.
Mitzelfelt faced the challenge of prison realignment, Assembly Bill 109, during his term, and was able to expedite the expansion of the Adelanto Detention Center before the law took effect. Mitzelfelt said that the jail, which currently has 700 beds, will soon have 2,100 by the end of next year.
“It’s a good thing we got ahead of that,” Mitzelfelt said. “There’s nearly 4,000 post-release community supervision offenders — the projection 2,700. It’s very much-needed jail space.”
Mitzelfelt said the expansion would bring a booking facility to the High Desert, preventing officers from taking offenders down the hill. In addition to the jail expansion, Mitzelfelt was able to secure the construction of a new Public Safety Operations Center in Hesperia, which he says is built larger than needed and to critical facility standards at his insistence because of seismic concerns.
“We were able to move the dispatch of fire and sheriff into that facility,” Mitzelfelt said. “We will have the premier emergency operations center in the entire county in the High Desert. It will be a benefit for us, particularly in the area of disaster recovery.”
During his time, Mitzelfelt secured funding for fire stations all across the district, including Baker, Phelan, Needles, Amboy and Oak Hills. He was also instrumental in securing the new station in Spring Valley Lake, which he says will lower response times to a large number of residents.
Workforce training was also an area that Mitzelfelt aimed to enhance, citing his efforts that cultivated a partnership between Victor Valley College and the private aviation school at the Southern California Logistics Airport.
“I certainly hope that we continue with our efforts for workforce training, and that the Workforce Investment Act is reauthorized,” Mitzelfelt said. “Those dollars help us with our job training, help us with Victor Valley College, and I’m really proud of what’s been done with the nursing program there as well as the aviation technicians and what Apple Valley High School has done with the precision machining academy. We just need to replicate this industry by industry and make these things self-sustaining in case the (act) doesn’t come through.”
Mitzelfelt said that he also worked to decrease the time it would take to build the High Desert Corridor from the Antelope Valley to the High Desert from 40 years to about 10 or 20 by gathering environmental “credits” which drastically reduced the projected construction time.
When asked what his biggest challenge was in office, Mitzelfelt answered simply “pension reform.”
“If CalPERS and other retirement funds continue to require significant taxpayer subsidies, voters might demand more stringent reforms,” Mitzelfelt said. “I believe the issue is unlikely to go away as such conditions are contributing to municipal bankruptcies and much of the savings in the new law will not be realized in the near future.”
Rather than run for reelection as 1st District Supervisor, Mitzelfelt opted to run for Congress in the June primary to represent the 8th District. He didn’t garner enough votes to advance to the November ballot in that race, with Robert Lovingood elected to fill his seat on the county Board of Supervisors.
After Mitzelfelt’s last day in office, which is Dec. 3, he says he plans to stay in the area and form an assembly committee just in case he want to run for office again.
“The economy has been such a challenge,” Mitzelfelt said, “but a lot of really great things got done — largely as a result of cooperation.”
Lynnea Lombardo may be reached at (760) 951-6232 or at LLombardo@VVDailyPress.com.
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