10:46 PM PST on Thursday, January 7, 2010

By DUANE W. GANG
The Press-Enterprise

The race is on for the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.

Former Palm Springs Police Chief Gary Jeandron announced Thursday that he is running for the board’s 4th District seat in the June election and challenging newly appointed Supervisor John Benoit.

The district includes the Coachella Valley and much of eastern Riverside County.

Jeandron currently is a Palm Springs Unified School District trustee, whose term is up in November.

“It is time we reform county government. We need to send the message clearly that the people of Riverside County want a government that serves the people — not the other way around,” Jeandron said in a statement.

“We need to do more than just have the people in Sacramento simply pass their problems on to counties,” Jeandron said. “The counties then complain loudly and pass the problem on to cities in the form of increased fees and less support for vital services.”

It was a clear swipe at Benoit, who resigned a state Senate seat to accept an appointment as a supervisor. Filling the vacant Senate seat requires an April 13 special election for the 37th Senate District, a move that will cost the county more than $1 million. And last month, supervisors, including Benoit, voted to increase jail booking fees charged to cities.

If elected supervisor, Jeandron, 55, said he would work for $1 during his first year and never accept any county retirement benefits. Normally, supervisors earn $143,031 a year.

“This is, for me, about being a true public servant,” Jeandron said in a telephone interview. “Instead of costing the county money with a special election, I will save the county money.”

Jeandron, who announced his campaign in front of a plumbing business in Thousand Palms, said he’ll run on a platform of reform and job creation.

Jeandron, a 2008 Republican candidate for state Assembly, holds degrees from the College of the Desert, Cal State San Bernardino and Chapman University. He also is a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Jeandron and his wife, Vicki, have two sons and two grandchildren. One of his sons, Michael Jeandron, is a public information officer for the Riverside County district attorney’s office.

Both Jeandron and Benoit, a former CHP officer, are retired law enforcement officers and receive pensions for their service. Jeandron receives $172,969 a year, according to the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility, which advocates for pension reform. Benoit receives $98,600, according to this published report in the Los Angeles Times.

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