Our Leaders: Mayor Cari Thomas Has A Positive Vision For Adelanto

Nikki Garrett Metzger

High Desert Daily

(Adelanto)-The City of Adelanto is a growing community that is striving to change their image to a more positive one in the High Desert.  Mayor Cari Thomas and the City Council are working diligently on that.

Mayor Thomas explained, “Right now we’re trying to move forward with our image. We’re trying to brand ourselves so that when the economy picks up we are in a position to bring businesses in. We want to brand ourselves now so that when the time is right we are ready to attract businesses and home builders again.”

One of the issues that the mayor and city council are working on is uniting north and south Adelanto. “I think that’s one of the biggest problems that our city council has right now – this great divide. We want to bridge that gap. We’re all one city and we need to have one common goal,” Thomas said.

She continued, “Adelanto is not what it used to be. It’s not just the north end with homes that have been there for 50 years. There are newer family homes in nice communities with nice families living in them. We have schools in almost every community now. That says a lot about the community that we have young families that are sending their kids to these elementary schools and it’s a great little community.”

Residents of the City of Adelanto, as everywhere else in the High Desert, are concerned about the economy and bringing jobs to their hometown. Mayor Thomas described what the City Council has in the works, “With the GEO group just getting the contract with I.C.E. to re-open the facility that they just bought from us about 18 months ago, we will see some really nice federal prison guard type jobs, about 200 or so.”

“We are in the works with the state to build another correctional facility in Adelanto, and that will also bring some good paying jobs. We’re hoping maybe in the next year or so to get a hotel in town, and a restaurant to go with it. The hotel would have some high paying jobs and some mid level jobs, and the restaurant management would be the higher paying jobs.”

Part of positioning the City of Adelanto to be ready for an upturn in the economy is attracting businesses that collect Point of Sale taxes, or sales tax that is collected at the time of purchase. “We’re really working on getting businesses to come into town that manufacture here and also sell from here rather than shipping out to a store in another city. When their store is here it brings up our sales tax revenue. We only make a couple hundred thousand dollars per year in sales tax revenue. That’s nothing, not compared to Victorville or Hesperia or Apple Valley. That’s our biggest thing right now is to bring in that sales tax revenue,” Thomas acknowledged.

Thomas has had a lot of support from the City staff.” Our staff is amazing. We have not really had to do any lay-offs, but when people have left over the last 2 years we have not filled their positions, trying to save on the budget. And as we ask more and more of the staff and each of their departments, they’re willing to take on more. The morale is really great; we are blessed to have the employees that we have.”

City Manager Jim Hart is also an integral part of Thomas’ team. “He’s very level-headed, and that’s one thing I love about Mr. Hart. He can see the bigger picture, see it from all different aspects. Even when it’s a stressful time, he can see the good in it and try and figure out what we can do to make it better. I can get a little hot-headed myself, so I really appreciate how he is very even tempered.”

Thomas is married and is raising three young boys, ages 15, 12 and 10.  She acknowledges that the key to managing it all is balance, “Its balance between the City, balance between my full-time job, balance between my family, and balance between my church. Those are the main aspects of my life. Scheduling – that’s my big thing is trying to get it on the calendar so I know I have it, then just working it all out. And obviously having my husband there whole heartedly supporting me and helping me along is great.”

“You just really have to prioritize what is most important. That’s been hard for me because when I was elected mayor I wanted to be at everything. I felt it was so important. The residents elected me so I need to represent them well and be at all the events and meetings. But I’ve learned in the last couple of months that you do have to pick and choose, family does come first. City is a close second, but my family does come first. And my boys understand when I have a city event, they know that I will be home later and they are good with it.”

Thomas’ vision for the City in ten years is, “I see us being hopefully over 50,000 in population, being the hub for the western side of Victorville and Adelanto, going into Phelan. Having another grocery store, hopefully a home improvement store or Target-type store, being the central location for the western side of Victorville to shop. Of course building our industrial park up some more, and starting to merge the north and south parts of Adelanto.”

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