BARSTOW Former Barstow Police Lieutenant Rich Harpole has announced he will run for City Council.

Harpole came to Barstow in 1983 when the United States Army stationed him at Ft. Irwin. He then married and started a family in Barstow, and began his career at the Barstow Police Department.

Harpole rose through the ranks at the police department before retiring in 2008.

One of his legacies is the Boys & Girls Club of Barstow, which he started when young gang members told him that there was nothing for them to do in town.

If elected, Harpole said he will push others to embrace community service.

"There's a lot of value in being involved in the community other than in an official capacity," Harpole said.

Harpole said he could engage with people at the Boys & Girls Club in a way he could not as a conventional police officer.

Harpole said he views programs like the Boys & Girls Club as key to reaching troubled groups of young people who can be prone to embracing a drug and gang lifestyle.

Harpole said helping the larger community will depend on whether people can put "Barstow first," as his motto states.

"The national economic problem has really kicked the crap out of us," Harpole said, but the city can recover if people remember what is good about it.

While the filing period for City Council races is not until July, Harpole said he has launched a website and social networking presence to get "a really early start."

Mayor Joe Gomez and Councilman Willie Hailey Sr. are both declining to seek reelection this fall, creating vacancies, and Councilman Tim Saenz is running for reelection.

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