(Hesperia)—2015 has been a great year for the city of Hesperia- with new shopping centers springing to life, the much anticipated Ranchero Interchange becoming a reality, and more- the High Desert city has clearly been thriving. Mayor Eric Schmidt has seen the progress, and foresees far more for the future.
The native Californian is a first generation American, 100% Latino, as both of his parents immigrated from Argentina. A longtime resident of Hesperia, Schmidt moved to the city in 1980 and has been in the High Desert ever since. While attending Cal Poly Pomona with his degree in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Mathematics, Schmidt started working for the Air Force Research Lab at Edwards Air Force Base, formerly the Rocket Propulsion Lab. He went on to start a few companies including Exquadrum, Inc, his current company, which is an aerospace engineering company with their headquarters located in the High Desert. Schmidt married his high school sweetheart Cindie Schmidt (Founder of Happy Healthy Kids), and the two have three children: a 28-year-old son, a 26-year-old son, and a 14-year-old daughter.
So, how does someone with background in Aerospace Engineering become the Mayor of Hesperia?
“The beauty of representative democracy is that anyone can end up being the Mayor of Hesperia,” said Schmidt in an interview with High Desert Daily. “I spent a good portion of my life outside of politics when I was growing up here- I had a family among other things. As my sons went off to college and time was a little bit easier for me to reconcile, my wife and I agreed that I had the time to do the civic things I really enjoy. So I ran for council in 2012, and I was elected with the highest percentage of votes for that cycle, which was humbling, frankly. Then, at the Hesperia City Council, the council nominates who will be Mayor for the following year, and I was nominated to be Mayor Pro Tem when “Smitty” Smith was Mayor, and then the following year I was elected by the city council to be Mayor.”
Schmidt’s term is a one year deal, which runs from last December to the end of this year. As his term winds down, we asked Schmidt about the direction the city is going in, and what the future holds. But first, to know where the city is going, you have to know where the city has been.
“’I’ve gone on record many, many times talking about something I like to call Hesperia 2.0.,” said Schmidt. “It’s kind of a nod to the software industry. We are in our 26th year of incorporation, and the city started with kind of a rocky situation, as many organizations do when they start off. We went through a period of just getting stability, understanding policies and processes and things like that. Once we got passed that threshold, we emerged into a decade where the city was developing the structure of how you are going to run a large organization.”
Hesperia is full of opportunities at every turn- from the highly popular corridors on Main Street near the I-15 freeway and the Ranchero Interchange; the potential around the city has already started being realized in the last few years. From shopping centers around Wal-Mart, Target, and more, the room for growth is both evident and exciting.
“The next season of Hesperia will be marked, I believe, by much more innovation and visionary thinking,” said Schmidt. “We have excellent opportunities from a green field kind of situation, which means you have a field that’s green and ready to become anything. We are a green field, and we are in this position of being able to pick and choose right now among some organization and entities that are trying to make a presence in Hesperia.”
Those opportunities include a 3.5 million square foot logistics and industrial commercial center that the city entitled just recently, and that Schmidt believes will be able to move forward in the next couple of years. Medical and health opportunities are also on the horizon in the next couple of years if not sooner. But the future for the city, in Schmidt’s opinion, is moving towards more professional jobs, by way of working in tandem with the surrounding cities.
“What we really need is to start moving into more professional jobs,” said Schmidt. “I see that, as we position ourselves, with these kind of larger projects, we are working with many, many organizations that are interested in Hesperia, that we are going to see this kind of evolution. People are going to recognize that number one; it is a cost effective location for business. Number 2; we have 442,000 people in the greater valley, which I like to call the Mojave River Valley, which encompasses not only the Victor Valley, but also as far as Barstow, Lenwood, Newberry Springs, unincorporated county. When you really look at that larger picture, you see that we have a lot of opportunity. Hesperia is not an island-all these cities are beginning to coordinate in a much more cohesive manner, so we are bringing a bigger offering, a better offering to the table.”
Schmidt, a Latino Mayor in one of the most important cities in the area, sees the cohesiveness of the city rather than an area segregated by the varying cultures of the population.
“I am actually very proud to say that our community doesn’t differentiate in a lot of ways,” said Schmidt regarding the city of Hesperia. “Unlike areas of California where you have very discreet neighborhoods that have one culture associated with them-like Little Tokyo, Little China, where you have these kind of segregated areas; when you look at a city like Hesperia, we are a city that is very homogenous. We are almost 50% Latino in the city of Hesperia, but when you look at the demographics, it’s spread out. When you interact with the various portions of our society, people don’t necessarily start with saying “I’m Latino”, they start with saying, “I’m American” or “I’m Hesperian”, and then they identify with another part of their culture. I think it’s going to be the success of Hesperia, and frankly, for the valley, if we can continue to view ourselves as not necessarily as a culture but as a much bigger picture. I think there is a lot of value to that kind of an approach.”
For more information on the city of Hesperia, including news, updates and upcoming events, visit the city online at http://www.cityofhesperia.us/.