Mayor Abel, Mayor Pro tem Leon selected to lead MDAQMD Governing Board

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– The Governing Board of the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District has new leadership to kick off 2021.

The board unanimously agreed at its first meeting of the year to appoint Yucca Valley Mayor Merl Abel as its chair for 2021. The board also selected Apple Valley Mayor Pro tem Kari Leon to serve as vice chair.

Abel and Leon each joined the MDAQMD decision-making body after being elected in their respective municipalities in 2018. Abel replaces Needles Mayor Jeff Williams in the MDAQMD Chair role. Williams served as Chair in 2019 and 2020 and continues as a member of the MDAQMD Governing Board. Leon replaces Carmen Hernandez, who served on the MDAQMD board through her elected position as Mayor Pro tem on the Barstow City Council until November 2020.

“I would personally like to thank Yucca Valley Mayor Merl Abel for stepping up to chair our board, and Apple Valley Mayor Pro tem Kari Leon assuming the role as vice chair,” said Brad Poiriez, Executive Director of MDAQMD. “They’ve already shown their ability to lead and engage their fellow board members and the public.”

The MDAQMD Governing Board also swore in five new primary members at its Jan. 25 meeting.

Joining the board are Adelanto City Councilmember Stevevonna Evans; Barstow City Councilmember Tim Silva; Hesperia Mayor Pro tem Brigit Bennington; Col. (Ret.) Paul Cook, elected in 2020 as San Bernardino County 1st District Supervisor; and Victorville City Councilmember Elizabeth “Liz” Becerra. Bennington and Becerra were also elected to their respective councils in the 2020 general election.

“Five new board members were sworn in at our first board meeting of 2021, and I’m elated that we had 12 out of 13 board members participating both in person and virtually for this meeting,” Poiriez said. “I’m eager to work with our new board members in continuing our mission to protect the air quality for our constituents.”

The MDAQMD Governing Board is the decision-making body for the District. The board is responsible for adopting rules, setting policies and providing direction on important air quality issues that affect the Mojave Desert.

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