April 06, 2010 5:14 PM

BARSTOW • Officials with the local Republican caucus Monday night demanded that Barstow Mayor Joe Gomez resign his post, saying the mayor’s recent criminal charge has cast the city in a negative light.

Gomez thanked them for their comments, but refused to step down.

In light of the mayor’s recent misdemeanor sexual battery charge, Gomez’s resignation is necessary to maintain the integrity of the office of mayor, said Bob Smith, president of the Barstow Area Republican Caucus and Yermo Community Services District board. Smith and caucus vice president, Robert Vasseur, a Newberry Springs resident, spoke during the public comment section of Monday’s City Council meeting.

The Republican caucus asked for the mayor’s resignation after a unanimous vote at a recent meeting, Smith said. Smith and Vasseur were joined at the meeting by former Mayor Lawrence Dale and former Barstow Police Lieutenant Rich Harpole.

“(Resigning) is not an easy step,” Smith said. “It is doing the right thing for the city of Barstow and citizens of Barstow.”

Vasseur, who read a prepared statement on behalf of the Republican caucus, said even though Gomez has a right to a presumption of innocence, Gomez’s criminal charge has exposed residents to questions from people outside the community. This gives Barstow a negative reputation, which has the city at a negotiating disadvantage for outside investment, Vasseur said.

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