ADELANTO — For about nine years, Gabriel Reyes lived in Hawaii, where he met his wife and climbed the ladder in the tourism industry. When he returned to the city he grew up in, he didn’t notice much change.
“That’s the reason why I got involved in running for mayor,” Reyes said.
A product of the city’s under-served north side who graduated from Silverado High School, the 31-year-old recently recalled his first big moment in council chambers. He was 8 years old then and, encouraged by his father, spoke up about the need for a recreation center.
Years later, he sees that call as unfulfilled. But he also believes he is now in a far better position to do something about it, touting experience overseeing hotel properties in Hawaii — the largest brought in $16-$18 million yearly — and current ownership of a small credit repair business in Victorville.
Reyes describes any city progress since the days he was a child enrolled in the school system here as too incremental and without anything to galvanize young people toward success or to develop future entrepreneurs and business owners.
While commercial cannabis has become the promising economic base of the city, he said there needs to be more done to regulate it. He also cautioned that controlling the industry, a sector he added should no doubt be embraced, was necessary to also attract and instill confidence in investors not supportive of that activity.
“We’re focusing on one pillar,” he said, “and as a business owner you never depend on one pillar to be or boost your economy.”
As much as infrastructure is the bedrock of a city, the leadership within the city is foundational too, and both need attention, according to Reyes.
Pending projects recently announced out of City Hall, including shopping centers and the High Desert Corridor, are encouraging, he said, but without the groundwork laid — roads and utilities — the city is ill-equipped to accommodate such planned development and potentially setting itself up to miss out on other opportunities.
And the turmoil that has struck the highest level of government — employee turnover, flinging accusations and the presence of an FBI investigation into public corruption — must be resolved to provide Adelanto with solid footing from which to operate, Reyes said, adding the city must be as helpful as possible in cooperating with the federal probe.
Regardless of its outcome, he said the city would have to be prepared to move forward on the right track, meaning regular financial audits to corroborate the recent economic rebound, independent oversight of the cannabis industry and relationship building that includes re-commitment to mayor and city manager relations.
On the economy, Reyes said he would champion trying to build out a “restaurant row” along Highway 395 from Palmdale to Rancho roads; make use of available land to draw aerospace business; secure a grocery store on the north end; and back the emergence of a higher-education satellite campus at Adelanto High School.
“We’re in a perfect place to rebrand and rethink the way we’re going to do what we’re going to do for Adelanto,” he said, tempering that it won’t be an overnight success. “There’s a time to tear down and a time to rebuild and we’re on the brink of the rebuilding and that’s what’s exciting.”
The general election is Nov. 6. Visit www.vvdailypress.com to see videos of each candidate explaining why they’re running for office and what key issues they’re focused on.
Shea Johnson can be reached at 760-955-5368 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @DP_Shea.