By Nikki Garrett Metzger
(Victor Valley)- – The Congressional race for the newly created eighth district is getting more interesting with Congressman Lewis’ announcement Thursday that he will, in fact, retire at the end of this session after 34 years in the House of Representatives.
“After months of consultation with loved ones and family, my wife Arlene and I have decided to retire from public life,” Lewis said in a statement.
The news caused a stir of activity Thursday and several potential candidates that had been on the sidelines waiting for Lewis’ decision have now formally thrown their hat in the race for the open seat in the newly drawn eighth district.
One of those candidates is County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt. “Congressman Lewis has been a great representative for California, and I would be honored to continue to fight for the principles that have guided his distinguished service,” Mitzelfelt said.
Local candidates from the Victor Valley are Victorville Mayor Ryan McEachron, Council member Angela Valles, and local businessman Don Jensen.
Local reaction to the news has been mostly positive. Joseph W. Brady, president of the Bradco Companies, commented, “I think this is going to put the High Desert on the map in politics, and showcase this area as having a lot of potential for growth, and the potential to create some real power.”
Brady continued, “Hopefully we utilize this opportunity the right way and not kill each other trying to get there. My hope, as a participant in High Desert politics, is that the candidates keep this clean. I hope that the candidates stick to the issues.”
“So my questions to these candidates are: what are you going to precisely do to improve the High Desert economy?” asked Brady. “Because I really think we need to take a look at people’s business experience and what have they really done to create jobs? How many jobs have these people created? Also, what are they going to do to turn our unemployment and welfare around substantially?”
Brady continued, “We need somebody that can bring consensus, bring our valley together. We have 5 cities with very different issues. We have gang issues, we have graffiti issues, we have high unemployment issues, we have high welfare issues.”
Brady stated that there is still time between now and the filing deadline on March 10th and that there could be more candidates that enter the race. “Let’s wait and see what shakes out. I have a feeling more people are going to come to the party, and I think there are going to be some big heavyweights.”
Victorville Councilman Mike Rothschild also sees the race for the eighth district as a good opportunity for the High Desert. “This will be an opportunity for us to have someone that has a direct living historical knowledge of what the Victor Valley is and what our needs are with respect to Congress.”
He continued, “I’m going to support Ryan McEachron for the job. As Mayor of Victorville he understands our needs for creating and continuing a connection with the federal government in relation to the redevelopment of our area, especially with his experience in helping develop SCLA.”
“He also understands the needs to create jobs,” said Rothschild. “Remember, Mayor McEachron is third generation family in this valley, and a business person here as well, so he’s got a lot to offer to the job. I think there isn’t a person in the Victor Valleybetter suited to be in Congress and representing us than the mayor of Victorville.”
The election for the 8th district will be held on November 6, 2012.