Monday, January 10, 2011 – 08.55 p.m.

In last year’s race for San Bernardino County’s Second District, then-Fontana City Councilmember Janice Rutherford beat a 16-year political incumbent by focusing on issues while refraining from personal attacks.

For instance, local political blogs were full of gossip about her opponent’s alleged shortcomings, Rutherford refused to join the fray and kept an issues-based campaign.

Rightly, Janice Rutherford shy-ed away from that crap and focused on serious matters – restoring the local economy, bringing back jobs, and fiscal restraint.

But one issue stood out among all others: restoring ethics and trust in county government.

In an interview with Cassie MacDuff, June 11, 2010, Rutherford stated her support for either an ethics commission or an independent ethics commissioner to enforce proper behavior (and punishment) of wayward county elected officials.

Furthermore, here are samplings of quotes from her campaign materials:

* “The county is mired in investigations and corruption…we need to end corruption and get the county moving again.” – Janice Rutherford Television ad

* Janice Rutherford “will clean-up county government and crack down on corruption” – Janice Rutherford door-hangar

*”I’ll work hard to restore trust in county government” – Janice Rutherford statement in a campaign mailer

All relevant, all good points. And exactly what San Bernardino County needs.

But the election for change did not end in November 2010. Tomorrow’s vote for board chair will set a defining tone for at least the next two years.

This blog has already highlighted why an elevation of Supervisor Josie Gonzales to board chair is not in the best interest of a county aiming to move beyond a shady ethical past.

Just for starters, Gonzales has opposed the establishment of an ethics commission (such as the one Rutherford supports) and appears to be named on a federal search warrant investigating shifty practices at government health facilities.

Supervisor Janice Rutherford should follow the course she set during last year’s tough fought election and support the reform movement of Supervisors Brad Mitzelfelt and Neil Derry for BOS chair and vice-chair respectively.

The campaign to clean up county government did not end with the ouster of one county supe last November. The fight continues tomorrow.

Easy decision. Board Chair Brad Mitzelfelt and Vice Chair Neil Derry.

“Let’s start now.”