James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Created: 12/17/2010 05:19:35 PM PST
At least three local officials are already contemplating running for a state Assembly seat that will open up in 2012.
Former Assemblyman Joe Baca Jr., a Rialto City Council member and son of Rep. Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino, says he is definitely running for the Assembly again.
Two other local officials, Rialto City Councilwoman Deborah Robertson and Colton school board member Robert Armenta Jr. say they are thinking about running for the office. All three live in the district represented by Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter, D-Rialto, who won a third and final Assembly term in November.
Complicating a campaign for these or any possible candidates looking to run in 2012 is that they don’t yet know which Assembly seat they’ll be running for. District boundaries will be redrawn in 2011 and there’s no way to know where Colton and Rialto will fit in.
“In the new year, especially when we find out how redistricting is going to impact our current districts in the area, I will make a decision,” Armenta said.
Currently, the 62nd District includes all of Colton and Rialto, most of Fontana and central and western San Bernardino. After new district boundaries are drawn, any of those cities could be split off into other districts.
Baca is starting his campaign without knowing which neighboring cities will be in a district with Rialto, but he has plenty to do without worrying about where the district will fall.
“You start by getting a lot of local endorsements within the region,” he said. “The other thing is, you have to raise money to get your message out, and you have to create your message so constituents know why you’re running.”
When new district maps are released, Baca said, “that will paint a clear picture of where the focus needs to be.”
Baca has run a successful Assembly campaign before. He served a single term, from 2004 through 2006. But he then lost a bid to serve in the state Senate. Since then, he’s served as a city councilman in Rialto.
Had he stayed in the Assembly, Baca would have finished his third term this month. But he says he doesn’t regret seeking the Senate seat.
“I think running for Senate and losing were the best things that happened to me,” Baca said. “It’s a learning experience. It humbles you.”
Armenta, who has served as a Colton Joint Unified School District board member for nine years, works as an executive for the non-profit health-care company Planned Parenthood.
Like Baca, he has some experience in state politics: Armenta served as chief of staff for former Assemblyman John Longville.
For now, Armenta said he is “totally focused on fixing our schools.”
While he hasn’t decided to run yet, Armenta said if he were to run his top priorities would be improving public education and creating more job opportunities.
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