By Monica Solano and Shea Johnson, Staff Writers
Posted: Apr 15, 2017 at 4:32 PM
Updated: Apr 15, 2017 at 4:32 PM
- Not since 2012, the second full year in office for former Victorville City Councilwoman Angela Valles, has the tension in council chambers been so palpable and sparring matches so frequent.
VICTORVILLE — Nearing six months on the dais, neophyte Councilwoman Blanca Gomez first had to upend an incumbent’s re-election bid. But now her election maybe inadvertently threatens another overturn: the recent run of decorum between city leaders.
Not since 2012, the second full year in office for former Victorville City Councilwoman Angela Valles, has the tension in council chambers been so palpable and sparring matches so frequent.
Particularly, the dynamic between Gomez and Mayor Gloria Garcia has been discernibly antagonistic at times. It’s now reached the point where Valles, who advocated for both of their candidacies at different periods, is seeking to broker a peace deal of sorts.
“It’s disappointing to see they’re not working together,” Valles said, “when it’s such a unique opportunity to have two strong Hispanic leaders on the council.”
For Gomez, the “eruption of a new change” triggered by her election has been the equivalent of entering into a realm “I never thought I’d reach,” she said this week in a sit-down interview with the Daily Press. Accordingly, the experience thus far has featured two distinct sides.
“It’s exhilarating to be able to represent a voice that for so long has been shut down. I never thought I had a voice,” she said. Then the acknowledged difficulties: “The part, the Scarlett letter ‘A,’ is the council, and hopefully that’s temporary.”
But to best serve the population she describes as voiceless — a collection which she loosely described to include the working class, the LGBT community, minorities, the homeless, single parents, the poor, students in debt and the elderly — Gomez will have to balance tone and message or likely face the same “pushback” from other council members she has seemingly treated with suspicion from the onset.
Where she has felt most comfortable — immersed in a rigorous schedule of daily meetings and events and outside the confines of the political domain — maintains the mark of the campaign trail, where Gomez said she first began to compile input from soon-to-be constituents.
It’ll be their suggestions that will ultimately guide the types of policy she puts forth over the next three-plus years. And it’s their opinion more than any other that seems to matter most. She called it fair to say she’s still performing the groundwork, and she claimed she realized the consensus support of her colleagues will be paramount to a successful term.
“I’m still getting my ideas to be formed and I know where I stand, but I need to get a voice,” she said. Then, later: “What do I need to do to tell my colleagues, ‘We need to be on board because this community is depending on us?’”
Still, Gomez has yet to have a planning commission appointee affirmed. She has responded to perceived resistance from colleagues with pejorative references to their seniority, repeatedly quibbled with fellow council members, prompted Councilman Eric Negrete to leave a meeting early — apparently fed up with disorder — and threatened to sue the city when she became the subject of a censure motion.
At the same time, she has felt attacked for what she believed to be innocuous matters for which she claimed no culpability: speaking in Spanish, seeking to better grasp agenda items and trying to slow down the process for the layperson.
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