For the third time, a former Fontana City Council member is elected to S.B. County Board of Supervisors | News

For the third time, serving on the Fontana City Council has been a stepping stone for politicians wanting to move up to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.

In 2004, Josie Gonzales, who was then one of Fontana’s leaders, was elected to the county’s 5th District supervisor seat, where she served for 16 years before being termed out in 2020.

In 2010, Janice Rutherford, another Fontana City Council member, was elected to the Board of Supervisors in the 2nd District. She will be leaving office in the upcoming month after completing three four-year terms.

And now, taking Rutherford’s place in the 2nd District seat will be Jesse Armendarez, who won the Nov. 8 election against Luis Cetina with about 54 percent of the vote.

Armendarez was on the Fontana City Council from 2016 to 2020, when he opted to run for the 5th District supervisor position. He lost that election to Joe Baca Jr., who had better name recognition among voters across the district (which included Rialto and San Bernardino).

However, the county’s district boundaries were redrawn last year to reflect the 2020 U.S. Census results, and so Armendarez went after the prize in the 2nd District, which now included all of Fontana as well as Rancho Cucamonga. Previously, the western end of Fontana was in the 2nd District and the eastern portion was in the 5th.

Armendarez was successful this time around, with lots of help from the powerful police and fire unions as well as Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren’s coalition.

“It’s clear our residents want proven leadership to make our neighborhoods safer and address the homeless crisis,” Armendarez said in a Facebook post following the election. “I look forward to working collaboratively with my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, public safety leaders and community groups. I am humbled by the support for our grassroots campaign.”

Cetina’s supporters, though, took issue with the description of “grassroots” and were angry about the negative tone of Armendarez’s campaign.

“Jesse Armendarez is the developers’ candidate for county supervisor,” said a mailer opposing his candidacy in early November. “Development interests already invested a whopping $277,400 — a majority of the campaign dollars Armendarez had raised by the end of last month. Armendarez has shown he’ll put what’s best for developers ahead of what’s best for your family and community.”

Nevertheless, Armendarez, a local realtor, has deep roots in Fontana. He was a member of the first graduating class at Fontana A.B. Miller High School and then started his own small business. He later was named one of the “Top 250” Hispanic realtors in the United States by the National Association of Hispanic Realtors.

He has been very involved as a member of the Fontana Exchange Club for many years and has served as a director for the Chaffey College Foundation, helping to raise money so that disadvantaged youths could afford to earn their degree, according to his website.

His political career has also included a brief stint on the Fontana School Board (his brother Joe Armendarez is now a member of that board).

Jesse Armendarez’s candidacy in this year’s race was supported by ex-supervisor Gonzales, who said: “I know Jesse will work hard to help improve our county communities. He is a strong independent thinker who will do a great job as our next County Supervisor.”

Armendarez also received endorsements from a wide spectrum of high-profile political leaders such as Congresswoman Norma Torres and Assemblymember James Ramos, in addition to current San Bernardino County Supervisors Curt Hagman, Paul Cook, and Dawn Rowe.

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