Jesse B. Gill, Staff Writer
Posted: 09/04/2010 07:15:31 AM PDT

BEAUMONT – Mayor Brian De. Forge and Mayor Pro Tem Roger Berg will seek re-election in November against five newcomers.

Brenda Knight, David Castaldo, Paul St. Martin, Richard Bennecke and Victor S. Dominguez will be competing against De Forge and Berg for the two open seats.

De Forge, 53, works as a field supervisor for a construction company. He has served on the council since appointed in July 1999 and he’s not the only De Forge to serve as mayor of the city he’s spent his life in.

His father served as mayor in the late 1970s and early 1980s, he said.

“I think we are the first father and son to have been mayor,” he said.

De Forge said he plans to run a positive campaign – one that focuses on the good things the council has done in the years he’s been a part of it.

He cited a budget that’s been balanced for his 11 years on the council, a reserve of more than $10 million, and two police officers per thousand residents as accomplishments of the current council.

“Beaumont is in excellent shape,” De Forge said. “(The election) is going to come down to the question of `Do you like the way Beaumont is going or do you not like the way Beaumont is going?’ ”

St. Martin, 66, works as a tax preparer. He ran for city council in 2008 and finished third. He has served on the Planning Commission for five years.

If elected to council, he wants to improve the city’s quality of life.

“I don’t want to see the city take a step back,” he said. “We’re at a very fragile point in the growth of our city.”

St. Martin isn’t the only candidate with experience in city policymaking.

Bennecke, 66, also has served on the Planning Commission for the last three and a half years.

Bennecke, who is retired, cites his “expertise and experience” as qualifications for a seat. He helped rewrite the downtown specific plan as a planning commissioner, though the City Council voted not to implement the plan.

Bennecke sees downtown improvement as a major issue in the Nov. 2 election.

“I’m a strong believer that we definitely need to do something with our downtown,” he said. “Even with the times being as they are, it’s important to have that plan in place.”

Knight, 55, plans to dedicate her time to the community. She did not give her occupation.

She has served on the Planning Commission since 2009 and also serves as an ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce.

Knight said she decided to run because residents are “in dire straights.”

She plans to focus on water rates and making infrastructure improvements if elected.

Knight has lived in Beaumont for nine years. She doesn’t consider herself a longtime resident, but she plans to make inroads with the city’s “old guard” if voters choose her.

“There are newer people that live here in Beaumont and there are more of us than the old guard,” she said. “I would like to bridge the gap between the two communities.”

Castaldo, 49, owns a propane store in town. He, too, served on the Planning Commission.

He had only good things to say about the things the council has done in recent years.

Castaldo said his time on the Planning Commission introduced him to “the bug of being a public servant. That bug led him to enter the election.

“I love the city of Beaumont and I want to give back to my community,” he said.

Castaldo said the Beaumont Cherry Valley Water District is struggling to capture rain runoff in the area. He proposes to hold joint meetings between the district and the council to resolve the problem.

Dominguez, 37, said he running because he wants to “take Beaumont to the next level.”

Measure U – a $47 million bond voters will have to approve to build a Mount San Jacinto Junior College campus the San Gorgonio Pass area – is one of the biggest issues facing voters, Dominguez said.

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