SB hopefuls focus on economic plans
Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Posted: 06/14/2011 09:28:52 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – An otherwise mundane debate between three candidates vying to represent Ward 2 on the City Council turned chippy Tuesday night when a political veteran sparred with an upstart who knocked him for being in office a little too long.

Robert Jenkins, Jerry Martin and John Longville are seeking to fill the seat left vacant when former Councilman Jason Desjardins resigned to take care of his ailing mother and to retain a city contract for his towing company. The routine debate, hosted by the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce and filled with cordial answers to questions from moderator Don Averill, saw a quick dustup toward the end when it came to whether voters should choose experience over new blood. “John, I think you’ve been in elected office longer than I’ve been alive,” Jenkins said to Longville.

Jenkins, a 31-year-old Republican who teaches special education at Norte Vista High School in Riverside, had taken a couple of swipes at Longville, before the 61-year-old Democrat, a San Bernardino Valley College board trustee and former assemblyman, had enough.

Longville counter-punched Jenkins with a remark about his inexperience and his relationship with Chris Jones, who was a political consultant for Paul Biane in the former county supervisor’s losing campaign to keep his seat.

“When we’re talking about political experience and expertise, I don’t need to go and depend on some sleazy campaign consultant from Sacramento who is going to write my material (for me),” Longville said.

The forum, held in downtown Council Chambers, focused heavily the economy and blight, with political newcomers Jenkins and Martin reading most of their answers off sheets of paper, while Longville peppered his answers with anecdotes from his political past.

Martin, a 65-year-old Republican and retired food industry executive, said his experience as a businessman gives him the know-how to help the city attract businesses, and that he supports redevelopment work at the the San Bernardino International Airport as an economic engine for the city.

“This airport can be a jewel in the Inland Empire and can serve as a major employer for residents in the 2nd Ward,” Martin said.

Jenkins, a member of the city Building Commission, and the Measure Z Oversight Committee, said he would cut red tape at City Hall and work to improve public safety.

“When people feel safe they will shop and employers will come,” he said.

To read entire story, click here.