A pair of political veterans and a newcomer face off in San Bernardino County Supervisorial District 4 race
A prominent incumbent with deep pockets and strong name recognition in Republican circles.
A well-liked Democratic legislator with close ties to labor unions.
An outsider with no connections to either party and no previous political experience.
Voters have three distinct options in the June 7 race for San Bernardino County’s Fourth Supervisorial District: current Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman, state Sen. Connie Leyva and insurance salesman Larry Wu.
The Fourth District, which includes Chino, Chino Hills, Montclair, Ontario and the southern half of Upland, is one of two supervisorial seats on the ballot. The race for Second District is wide open with current Supervisor Janice Rutherford ineligible to seek reelection due to term limits.
If a candidate in either race gets 50% of the vote in the primary election, plus one vote more, they’ll win their respective race outright and take their seat on the Board of Supervisors when the new terms begin in December. If nobody wins either seat in June, the top two candidates in each contest meet up in the Nov. 8 general election.
The former mayor of Chino Hills, Hagman spent six years in the California State Assembly, where he served as the GOP’s minority leader. Elected to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors in 2014, he’s running for a potential third and final term due to term limits.
“I think where we were eight years ago, where we are today, we’re obviously I think in every category stronger,” Hagman said.
But there’s room for improvement, he added. Hagman would like to streamline and improve county operations through improved technology, whether it’s kiosks in county buildings, starting with libraries, that let residents connect on video calls to county offices, to having county databases share information instead of forcing residents to fill out multiple repetitive forms in order to get conduct business.
The housing crisis hits home for Hagman.
“My son, after six years of college and two degrees from UCLA, is making an OK living and starting off his first job,” he said. “But there’s no way he can afford a house or afford to rent anywhere close to home. And it’s sad.”
Hagman wants to see the county increase high-density housing in some areas, and build out the infrastructure necessary to support home construction in areas where it hasn’t been developed yet.
“We’re gonna have to push back a little bit on NIMBYs at home and say, ‘Look, this is what we need, because we need the spectrum of homes from the entry level to the nice estates,’ ” he said. “And we all have our parts to do for this.”
Warehouses and the logistics industry have gobbled up much of the Inland Empire in recent years, thanks in part to its proximity to the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, and formerly cheap land in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. But Hagman would like to diversify job opportunities in the region.
“We’re working on bringing manufacturers in. We’re not targeting warehouses right now, we’re targeting, you know, manufacturers and things for good jobs now. We have a whole spectrum of jobs — blue collar jobs — making good money right now and in high demand.”
And he is excited about the possibility of Elon Musk’s Boring Co. building a tunnel — currently proposed to run underground between Ontario International Airport and Rancho Cucamonga — to eventually take logistics industry truck traffic off county freeways.
“We will have three dimensional travels in the near future,” Hagman said. “It costs too much to build a new lane on the freeway.”
Labor organizer turned state senator, Leyva found herself sharing a district with another Democrat when legislative districts were redrawn in December. After initially announcing that she would seek reelection to state office, Leyva pivoted in January and announced that after eight years in the Senate she would seek the Board of Supervisors seat currently occupied by Hagman.
“I have always thought about running for county supervisor, because I think we can do better,” Leyva said. “It has been mostly a Republican board for like 30 years, and they just have a very different perspective.”
Leyva says the board has not spent money allocated by the Legislature for homelessness and rent relief during the pandemic.
“That happens when you don’t care about people,” Leyva said. “That happens when you’re not worried about people having a place to live. And you can’t say that they have a homeless problem, but then not try to use the money and spend the money the state gives you for that problem.”
Specifically, Leyva said the county did not spend $11 million allocated to the county for Project Homekey, which provides housing for those experiencing or at high risk of experiencing homelessness. She also said the county did not spend $60 million in rent relief funds.
“So the double whammy is, then the next year, the state looks at you and says, ‘Well, you didn’t spend what we gave you, so we’re not going to give it to you,’ ” Leyva said. “But what I tell people is OK, I’ll be there next year. And obviously we’d say, ‘Wait a minute, there was a mess up; I’m here now we’ll spend all the money, I promise.’ “
Hagman disputes Leyva’s characterization, saying the county is spending its homelessness funds and, like other counties, is letting the state administer rent relief, saving taxpayers money that would have otherwise been spent administering the program.
Leyva said Hagman and the board have had misplaced priorities during the pandemic.
“When we were raising money and feeding people during COVID, he was suing the state of California over the mask mandate,” she said. “That’s our taxpayer dollars. Obviously, he lost, but that’s been our money.”
She also said supervisors have let warehouse developers build on land zoned for residential construction during a housing crisis.
“It’s harder to build a residential area,” Leyva said. “But what is it we want for this area? I want people to live here.”
Leyva would like to build more housing in San Bernardino County by making sure it makes economic sense for developers. She pointed to her work bringing a $35 million state grant to Ontario, which helped build affordable housing on Holt Boulevard, as a model for how to tackle the housing crisis, at least in part.
“The longer I run for supervisor, the more I think there’s a lot of good I can do here,” she said. “There’s a lot of need. And anything I’ve ever done in life, I’ve always done it for the reason that I think I can make a difference. And I think I can make a difference here.”
In contrast to Hagman and Leyva, Wu is a political newcomer, an insurance salesman living in Chino. Frustrated by city officials approving a warehouse over the back wall of his house, he realized he wanted to get involved in local politics.
“I have always believed that the public service is the only effective way to protect our way of life,” he said.
He’s concerned about the encroachment of the logistics industry into local neighborhoods.
Wu also wants to see the county invest more money into solving the housing crisis and look at higher density zoning where appropriate. He wants the county to triage its homeless population, with different groups getting the type of interventions appropriate for their needs.
Wu is also concerned about older residents, believing the county needs to provide a transportation system that allows older residents who do not drive get to medical appointments or go shopping more easily and safely.
If elected, Wu said he will serve a single four-year term.
“After that, I’ll go back to selling my insurance,” he said. “I’m not interested in a career in politics; I’m just interested in doing the right thing.”
He knows he’s a longshot in a race but said if voters truly want change, they need to stop voting for career politicians.
“If you want a different result, for a better future, by electing the same people to the same office,” he said, “do you think the results will be different?”
Financially, Hagman and Leyva seem closely matched.
As of Thursday, April 28, Hagman’s campaign had received $232,888 in donations this calendar year, including major contributions from real estate and business groups. As of Thursday, his campaign committee still had $348,121 on hand, including donations received before this year.
An independent campaign raising funds on Hagman’s behalf, Business Leaders and Workers United to Support Curt Hagman for Supervisor 2022, has received $50,000 in donations, with $41,382 on hand as of April 28. Documents filed Tuesday, April 26, show the committee received its donations in the form of two $25,000 checks from UCR Group, the Redlands-based real estate developer behind two upscale apartment buildings in an unincorporated area of the city.
According to campaign finance documents filed Thursday, April 28, Leyva’s campaign has amassed $409,719 in donations, many of the biggest contributions coming from various labor groups across the state. As of Thursday, her campaign still had $310,494 on hand.
An independent committee, the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition to Oppose Leyva For Supervisor 2022, has received one donation: a $49,900 check from Ontario-based real estate developer Industrial Integrity Solutions, according to campaign finance documents filed on April 27. There is no record showing the coalition has spent any funds yet.
As for Wu, in documents released Monday, April 25, his campaign reported receiving $24,500 in donations, of which he still had $9,828 on hand.