BARSTOW Planning Commissioner Carmen Hernandez is seeking a seat on the City Council this fall.

Hernandez previously ran for City Council in 2008 and 2010. In 2008, she lost by 11 votes to Willie Hailey Sr. and Tim Saenz.

Despite losing twice, Hernandez still attends City Council meetings on a regular basis and networks with the community. Both Hernandez and her husband, Mike Hernandez, are regular speakers at public comment periods of City Council meetings.

Hernandez said that the City Council's priorities were misplaced. The Council needs to do more to create jobs in Barstow, Hernandez said.

"Attending a conference isn't going to do that," Hernandez said, adding that members should play up Barstow's positive qualities, like its affordable housing, abundance of land, good weather and family-friendly atmosphere.

Hernandez has lived in Barstow 46 years and worked as a social worker in the High Desert for 34 years before her retirement.

Hernandez said that if elected she would review how the city obtains legal advice in an attempt to negotiate contracts that are more advantageous for the city. She said that deals like the city's former wastewater contract with United Water showed that the city had not negotiated well with private companies.

The United Water contract stipulated that any repair to the company's wastewater plant costing more than $5,000 would be made by the city. As a result, the company did not have an incentive to make preventative repairs, Assistant City Manager Oliver Chi told the Council at its Jan. 17 meeting.

The city took control of the wastewater plant when United Water's contract with the city to operate the facility expired at the end of January.

Hernandez joins former Barstow Police Lieutenant Rich Harpole in the race for City Council. Barstow Councilman Willie Hailey Sr. has said he will not seek reelection, and Mayor Pro Tem Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre is running for mayor to replace Mayor Joe Gomez, who is also not seeking a new term.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or spearson@desertdispatch.com