High Desert Daily
Editor’s note: High Desert Daily is running a series of articles called “Game Changers” during the month of December. The individuals spotlighted as Game Changers have made a positive impact in our community this year, going above and beyond all expectations. We proudly present to you the next Game Changer of 2011: Adelanto City Manager Jim Hart.
Miguel Gonzalez, Editor.
(Adelanto)– D. James “Jim” Hart, Ph.D. was born in Barstow, CA and raised in Ontario. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and a Doctorate in Business Administration. “I was born in Barstow, raised inOntario. I’m married; my wife’s name is Nicole, we have two kids: Kyle and Ashley. Then I have three older kids from my first marriage: Jennifer, Eric and Christina. We have eight grandchildren.” Being City Manager for Adelanto is not Harts’ first experience with city governments.
“I’ve been in city government for more than 35 years now. I have worked for the City of Chino, City of Rancho Cucamonga as a department head and staff. Then to the City of Twentynine Palms as City Manager, City of Rancho Santa Margarita as a City Manager, then came to Adelanto in January 2005 as City Manager.” Aside from city governments, Hart also taught nights for 15 years at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga and Copper Mountain College located in Joshua Tree.
“It was great training for handling situations on your feet. That interaction with the students taught me how to think on my feet real quick.” When Hart came to Adelanto in 2005, it was a very different city with a very different feel to it. “Adelanto had been through some rough times with City Managers before I got here. I think there was a lot of distrust with City Managers. I wouldn’t say morale was bad when I got here: it was guarded.”
One of the main factors Hart stressed as of the utmost importance was to change the public perception of Adelanto. “Adelanto has a bad reputation, and that has been one of my biggest challenges: to try and flip that over. When you get to Adelanto and start to become part of this community, you find it’s nothing like the outside vision of what Adelanto is. Adelanto is not what people perceive it as.” Adelanto Mayor Cari Thomas spoke on Mr. Hart’s hard work with the city to help change the image portrayed, “He’s phenomenal: he really worked hard on the branding of the city this year. Really defining who we are so that we can attract businesses. To highlight all the great things we have in town.”
That image also includes being able to work with the neighboring cities in the High Desert, which has been a priority from day one for Hart. “Another major thing is the ability to continue the relationships with the other cities. One of the things the council asked me to do when I came here is to build a good working relationship with Victorville, Apple Valley, Hesperia, and Barstow here and there, as well as representatives from the county.”
One of the major accomplishments of 2011 for Hart has to do with the city’s wastewater treatment. “The major thing that we did this year was to get the waste water treatment expansion under control. Starting in January 2011, we received notice from the State Regional Water Board that they were going to put a connection ban on Adelanto, which meant there would be no more connections to the sewer system until we had some things done. Well, recognizing a sewer ban is something that can kill a community: because word gets out that you have a ban, but word never gets back when a ban is lifted. So developers think there’s a ban in Adelanto, so why go to Adelanto? It would have killed this community to have that, so we successfully worked on getting that ban dropped. I mean, it’s out there as a threat, but the real threat is gone. We worked really hard to get the expansion under control, and made some moves to get the project back on track. It’s taken a significant amount on my time. ”
Another highpoint for this year, according to Hart, is the continued relationship with the Adelanto Chamber of Commerce. “I think we continued a great relationship with the Adelanto Chamber of Commerce. We support each other, we actually made them partners in things that we are doing and trying to accomplish. We view our relationship as important as a partnership.”
Adelanto Chamber of Commerce President Eric Jensen of the High Desert Mavericks commented on the Hart’s dedication to the chamber. “We couldn’t do a lot of the chamber stuff without the city. They provide us the space to have our monthly lunch meeting at the stadium. They go out of their way to do whatever they can, especially Mr. Hart. He has always been a huge supporter of the chamber as a whole, specifically the functions of the chamber. “ Mr. Hart attends many of the chamber’s functions, including the recent Casino Night.
Mayor Thomas spoke of a prestigious award that Mr. Hart received mere weeks ago: “He just received the Larry Chimbole Award from the League of California Cities, Desert Mountain Division. The award is given to an outstanding elected official every year. Last year, they decided that not only should they recognize an elected official, but also they should recognize City Managers, knowing the instrumental role City Managers play in city government. So the City Managers in all of the Desert Mountain Division (All the High Desert, Palmdale, Lancaster, Ridgecrest, Barstow) get together and nominate other city managers to receive the award. Jim received the award this year, just a couple of weeks ago. It is a well-deserved award that he is long overdue for. It’s a huge honor and we are so proud of him, and for his fellow city managers to recognize that really says a lot about a man.”
As we look to the future, Adelanto has much to look forward to. Hart spoke of some of the projects in the works for the city: “We have some solar projects coming on board: there are some opportunities there to save some money and earn some money. Also, we have been working with the state on the possibility of building a correctional facility to meet their current needs, which would bring, we figure, about 3,000 jobs to the local area. Success has been the fact that we are in serious discussions with them.”
Hart has personified the positive changes the city has had over the years, and by the looks of it all, plans to continue with making the community a better place for all. Mayor Thomas touched on the impact Mr. Hart has had in our community, and in others, “He has made a huge impact not only in our community, but in every community he has ever worked in.”