San Bernardino County Supervisor Josie Gonzales

BY IMRAN GHORI
STAFF WRITER
ighori@pe.com

Published: 26 May 2012 07:30 PM

San Bernardino County Supervisor Josie Gonzales would appear to be in a comfortable position as she seeks a third term on the Board of Supervisors.

Gonzales, 59, who won re-election four years ago without an opponent on the ballot, has amassed a significant campaign account that dwarfs her two challengers.

A Fontana councilwoman for eight years before she was elected to the board in 2004, Gonzales is well known in the 5th District, which includes the cities of San Bernardino, Rialto and Colton, parts of Fontana, and the unincorporated communities of Bloomington and Muscoy.

Her opponents, John Taack, 53, a San Bernardino businessman, and Silvia Marroquin, a Fontana community organizer, both are political newcomers.

But Gonzales said she’s taking nothing for granted.

“You have to keep working like it’s your first time,” she said.

Campaign finance reports filed last week show that Gonzales had $824,430 in her account and spent $158,782 so far. Taack spent $1,560, which he said came from his own funds. Marroquin reported no contributions or expenditures.

Gonzales is campaigning on a record that she said includes recent reforms to clean up county government following scandals that have resulted in the arrest of several former county officials, including two former supervisors.

She cited her support for proposals to limit campaign contributions, get rid of discretionary funds for supervisors and banning board staff from serving as paid campaign members.

Gonzales, who has held the influential position of board chair since January 2011, said she has been focused on the long-term health of the county through difficult budget decisions and the adoption last year of a county vision that spells out common goals for the county and its cities.

Taack, who worked for the county for seven years before he was laid off in 2010, said he is running for supervisor because he feels that he and other former county employees were laid off unnecessarily.

“Employees are going to work everyday and are afraid they’ll lose their jobs,” he said.

Taack also has been critical of Gonzales’ role with the San Bernardino International Airport Authority. Gonzales has been a leader on that board and co-chairs the related Inland Valley Development Agency. The FBI raided airport offices last fall seeking evidence of conspiracy, bribery and fraud related to the airport’s relationship with Scot Spencer, the former manager and developer.

Taack questioned whether Gonzales knew of problems at the airport.

Gonzales said she and other members of the board were not provided with proper information on what was going on. She said positive changes are being made, such as the recent appointment of a new airport director.

Marroquin did not respond to requests via email and phone for an interview. In a meeting with The Press-Enterprise editorial board in April, Marroquin said she was running because she wanted to give back to her community.

On her website, Marroquin lists cleaning up corruption and increasing accountability to residents as some of her top concerns.

Beyond her opponents, Gonzales also has faced criticism in recent weeks from her fellow Democrats.

Last month, the county Democratic Central Committee almost approved a resolution calling on party members to actively oppose her re-election. Rep. Joe Baca, D-Rialto, endorsed Marroquin while citing his disappointment with Gonzales.

Baca became critical of Gonzales last fall after she endorsed his congressional race opponent, state Sen. Gloria Negrete-McLeod, D-Chino.

To read entire story, click here.