Brooke Self
Staff Writer
Posted Dec. 26, 2014 @ 8:31 pm
Updated Dec 26, 2014 at 8:36 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a series of articles reviewing 2014 in each of the Victor Valley’s four municipalities.

ADELANTO — It’s safe to say that Adelanto had something of a rocky year in 2014, facing a fiscal crisis that brought the city of 32,000 residents to the brink of bankruptcy.

City leaders promoted a possible solution with Measure O, a ballot initiative to add a nearly 8 percent tax on all utilities in the city. The measure failed decisively in the Nov. 4 election.

Continuing its efforts to garner additional tax revenues, city officials then moved forward with a prison plan that would add a 3,260-bed facility to house L.A. County inmates and generate $1.2 million in bed tax revenue each year.

City officials were championing the proposal as a source of much needed revenue to mitigate its $2.6 million revenue shortfall. The plan still requires approval by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to succeed, but developers and city officials tout that it would bring 3,769 construction jobs and 1,250 permanent jobs to the city.

With the jail proposal and Measure O being major deciding factors, the Nov. 4 election brought a major shake-up of city leadership. Three of the five members on the city council were unseated.

Longtime Mayor Cari Thomas was among those voted out. She was narrowly defeated by Marine Corps veteran Rich Kerr, who garnered about 30 percent of votes to Thomas’ 27 percent in an election that had a dismal 17 percent voter turnout overall. Real estate broker and medical-marijuana proponent John “Bug” Woodard and former Adelanto Mayor Charley Glasper each took council seats, removing incumbents Steve Baisden and Charles Valvo.

The day before the new council was sworn-in, Victorville city officials asked the newly-seated council members to delay the final vote on the L.A. County jail development in order to host a regional discussion on the plan. However, the new council declined the request and voted 4-1 to approve the facility. The approval came after several residents spoke out against the construction of more correctional facilities in the small city, which is already home to three (not to mention the federal prison complex in neighboring Victorville).

Even more new prison beds are planned for the city’s future, after the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility operated by Geo Group Inc. announced expansion plans to house 1,940 more detainees. It stands as the largest facility of its kind in Southern California.

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