By Greg Cappis, Redlands Daily Facts
Posted: 12/28/13, 9:58 AM PST |

One politician resigned this past month, and five others are campaigning to win his empty seat.

A special election will be March 25 so voters can choose a replacement for state Sen. Bill Emmerson, R-Redlands, in the 23rd District.

The veteran legislator abruptly announced his retirement on Nov. 8, citing a lack of passion for the job. His last day in office was Dec. 1.

The 23rd Senate District stretches from Rancho Cucamonga and Wrightwood in the west to Big Bear Lake, drops down into Riverside County and includes parts of Redlands and San Bernardino.

The region’s economy has struggled to rebound since the Great Recession as the unemployment rate hovers above 10 percent, a topic the candidates discussed during recent interviews.

Between Emmerson’s November announcement and Friday afternoon, five candidates had entered the race to replace the Republican lawmaker.

Three are Republicans, one a Democrat and the other is Libertarian.

Four currently hold elected office. Two serve on city councils as mayor pro tem, one is a water board member, and one is in the Assembly.

Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, represents the 40th Assembly District, which comprises about half of the 23rd Senate District.

“I think I can assume those duties somewhat seamlessly as an extension of what I’m already doing,” he said.

Morrell said he helps businesses in two ways. First by supporting legislation in Sacramento aimed at lowering taxes and regulations to help current businesses and attract new ones to the region. Secondly, he said he works directly with businesses in the region to help them cut through rolls of government red tape.

As owner of a real estate company Morrell said he understands what it’s like to sign both the front and backs of paychecks.

Lonni Granlund, a Republican who is vice president of the Yucaipa Valley Water District board, echoed Morrell’s sentiment about signing both sides of paychecks.

She also ran a real estate company and managed 600 properties.

“I know what it’s like to be an employer in this economy,” Granlund said. “It’s tough.”

She admitted to not knowing all the answers, but said if elected,she would talk to employers who left the state to determine why they departed and how to retain others.

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