The intriguing race to fill outgoing San Bernardino County Supervisor Gary Ovitt’s District 4 seat is a contest between two seasoned elected officials currently occupying higher offices. Curt Hagman is a three-term Republican assemblyman, and former Chino Hills City Council member, who served as mayor in 2008 prior to winning state office. He faces one-term Democratic Congresswoman Gloria Negrete McLeod, who previously spent six years in the Assembly and six years in the state Senate.
While both candidates have a wealth of political experience, Curt Hagman’s business experience and emphasis on growth and improving the business climate, in a county that is growing but still struggling to provide more economic opportunity, make him best suited to represent the district. Mr. Hagman is the owner of several businesses, including a real estate consulting and management firm and a bail bond company. He touted his ability to adopt a private-sector perspective to help the county compete for businesses.
“We have to be thinking like a business,” Mr. Hagman explained during our discussion. Among other things, he offered that tax incentives could be used to attract businesses to the area. While tax incentives can certainly be a good thing, we would offer this note of caution: Tax incentives should be offered equally to all businesses, rather than only to those favored by elected officials, as the state government has recently done with tax credits for the film, “green” energy and aerospace industries.
An even better approach would be to reduce regulatory burdens and attract businesses simply by getting rid of red tape. Mr. Hagman seemed to acknowledge this when he noted that businesses need some regulatory stability, that government cannot keep changing the rules and expect businesses to stay and thrive in such a climate.
Among other priorities, Mr. Hagman would seek to gain local control of Ontario International Airport from Los Angeles World Airports, which also operates LAX and has been criticized for concentrating its efforts on LAX to the detriment of Ontario.
Finally, Mr. Hagman addressed the need to control government growth, particularly with regard to rising pension costs. This could be addressed, he said, by reducing compensation for future county employees and outsourcing the provision of certain government services, especially in cases where the county would benefit by gaining more flexibility over its workforce.
Ms. Negrete McLeod did not seem nearly as concerned about fiscal discipline regarding personnel costs, one of the biggest drivers of government expenditures. She opposes outsourcing and said that government employees should retire “comfortably,” but “not rich.” Yet her very close ties to public labor unions are a troubling indicator, as evidenced by the substantial $500,000 contribution she has received from an SEIU-affiliated campaign committee of homecare workers.
Though Ms. Negrete McLeod described herself as a “very moderate Democrat,” she has earned a 91 percent rating from Progressive Punch, a database of congressional voting records, an 81 percent liberal score on economic policy from National Journal and 100 percent ratings from abortion rights/pro-choice groups and labor unions such as the AFL-CIO, United Food and Commercial Workers and National Education Association in recent years.
San Bernardino County needs to focus on growing jobs and the economy — not government. Curt Hagman’s business background and limited government philosophy best meet those needs for the 4th District.
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