Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Created: 05/23/2012 07:17:03 PM PDT

A former county employee wanting to end nepotism in San Bernardino County and a local activist hope to take the 5th District supervisorial seat away from board Chairwoman Josie Gonzales.

Gonzales, a former restaurant owner and Fontana councilwoman, was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2004 and is seeking her third term as supervisor. She said slashing the county’s staggering unemployment rate of 12.7 percent and creating more high-wage jobs is crucial to the county’s economic recovery.

“It’s only by reducing our unemployment rates that we’re going to be able to get off our economic behinds,” Gonzales said.

A pivotal force that will help that cause, she said, is the county’s Workforce Investment Board, which provides job training and assistance to residents receiving unemployment and other benefits from the Transitional Assistance Department.

The county must continue partnering with civic organizations and schools and look for ways to attract new businesses while retaining existing ones, she said.

Community activist Silvia Marroquin, one of Gonzales’ challengers, also wants to promote good jobs and a better economy.

But she also she wants to clean up county corruption and hold the county more accountable to its taxpayers. according to her campaign website.

Although Marroquin could not be reached for comment Wednesday, she says on her website that FBI investigations into the county’s $102 million settlement with Rancho Cucamonga investment group Colonies Partners LP in 2006 and Arrowhead Regional Medical Center have “tainted our county’s reputation and put San Bernardino County at risk of losing millions in federal funding.”

Marroquin believes county residents “deserve leadership that builds effective relationships at all levels of government – federal, state and local – in order to address the biggest challenges facing residents.”

Marroquin said she promises to remain engaged with her constituents and that she will bring back the municipal advisory councils for Bloomington, Muscoy and El Rancho Verde residents.

John Taack, a former heating, ventilation and air conditioning supervisor for the county, said his campaign is focused on what he believes is too much nepotism and too many wrongful terminations in the county, which he says are rooted in the Human Resources Department.

“I’m going to stop the wrongful terminations in the county. My main campaign is based on honesty,” said Taack, 53.

He feels the direction of the county has taken a downward trajectory in the eight years Gonzales has been in office.

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