Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 05/21/2012 07:12:18 PM PDT

There’s no shortage of choices for San Bernardino County voters this election season when it comes to the First District supervisor’s race.

Seven candidates are vying for the seat vacated by Brad Mitzelfelt, who is making a bid for Congress after only one term in public office.

The First District is the largest of the county’s five supervisorial districts, spanning the bulk of the high Desert, from Trona to Needles, and the town of Wrightwood in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Up next for the candidates is the June 5 primary.

A number of factors are at play that make this county supervisor race unique, said Doug Johnson, a fellow at the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont Mckenna College.

“First, there’s no incumbent, and second, there’s a lot of good candidates who have a shot at winning this, and none of them emerges as dominant in any way,” Johnson said. “It will all come down to who can get their supporters out on election day.”

Candidates include the Hesperia Mayor Russell Blewett, sheriff’s lieutenant and Apply Valley Councilman Rick Roelle, San Bernardino County Fire Capt. Bret L. Henry, Adelanto school board trustee Jermaine Wright, businessman Robert A. Lovingood, businessman Michael Orme and retired sheriff’s detective Bob Smith.

They all promise to fight hard to bring to the High Desert more jobs, more government transparency and more sheriff’s deputies to thwart crime and gang activity that has proliferated in recent years.

Incumbent Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, now vying for the new 8th Congressional District seat, said he hopes that whomever is elected to succeed him understands the magnitude of the job and will provide good leadership and think long-term.

“And certainly I hope they will continue with some of the policies and projects I have started,” Mitzelfelt said. “Whomever my successor is, they will receive all the information they need . . . .”

A high unemployment rate, much of it attributed to the soured economy, and low education retainment levels are among the biggest problems Mitzelfelt’s successor will have to grapple with.

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