Barb Stanton makes Apple Valley history (December 10, 2015)

APPLE VALLEY — A total of four women have served as mayor of Apple Valley since the town’s incorporation in 1988.

Heidi Larkin, who was also a councilwoman on Apple Valley’s inaugural council, became the first in 1990. She was followed by Kathy Davis in 1993, Barbara Loux in 1995 and Barb Stanton in 2012.

But with the council’s unanimous vote Tuesday evening to select her as mayor for 2016, Stanton became the first woman in Apple Valley’s history twice named to the position.

Knowing that fact, Stanton found it difficult to contain her excitement prior to what she described Wednesday as her proudest moment.

Yes, Stanton exclaimed as she and her fellow council members voted on her nomination; the large crowd in attendance offered generous applause after the selection was made.

And Stanton was not short of words when she described the most impactful issues facing Apple Valley in the coming year, including completion of the Yucca Loma Bridge and the town’s proposed acquisition of Apple Valley Ranchos’ water system by eminent domain — a matter that has been contentious to say the least.

I’m going to concentrate on keeping our community united through the critical issues that face us, Stanton told the Daily Press. It’s been mentioned many times over that it’s OK to disagree and I certainly believe in that but let’s not become enemies over those disagreements.

Who will own and operate the water system in the coming years is a game changer, according to Stanton.

This is, again, about our future, she said. (It’s) about inviting people to come live in Apple Valley because you can afford the water here. The water issue is big because our town is growing exponentially. The impact of what’s going on with water — aside from the drought — is the biggest issue our community has faced that I’m aware of.

While serving as mayor pro tem, Stanton took the lead on speaking out about water during council meetings.

Now-former Mayor Larry Cusack abstained from commenting on the issue because his Apple Valley Communications company does business with Ranchos.

I don’t want to speak for Larry, Stanton said, but I would say that it was difficult for him because of his passion for our community. I saw some frustration there because he wants to work for the future of the town.

Stanton, however, appeared comfortable in that leadership role and said her background in radio allowed her to speak freely on regional issues.

Beginning in 2003, Stanton hosted a talk show on Talk 960 that was instrumental in getting her name into the public consciousness. Clear Channel Victorville nixed Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s program — still popular at the time, according to Stanton — to make room for Stanton’s show in the programming schedule.

No one would have known who Barb Stanton is without my years in radio, she said. It wasn’t just a political show. I talked to nonprofits and ran feature stories. That was the platform that catapulted me to where I am today.

Despite the name she was making for herself, Stanton was fired by Clear Channel Victorville in May 2007 based on comments she made on-air in April of that year regarding Desert Community Bank’s then-president Ron Wilson and the merger of East West Bank and DCB, according to a previous Daily Press report.

During the broadcast, Stanton falsely declared the president of East West Bank — Dominic Ng — a foreigner, accused then-president of Desert Community Bank Ron Wilson of lying on her program and encouraged her listeners to suck (their) money out of DCB, the report said.

Stanton did not comment on her firing at the time, but said she disputes some of the original Daily Press report published in 2007.

That’s not entirely accurate, Stanton said. I wasn’t going to add fuel to the fire (at the time). Ron Wilson had been in the studio and we did a lengthy interview. Ron talked about DCB — our hometown bank — and led listeners to believe that he’d be there forever. I was personally insulted that he would sit there and mislead us on that matter.

Stanton added that the comments she made about Ng — who was born in Hong Kong and is an American citizen — which included referring to him as a Chinese-looking guy and a foreigner were misconstrued and used against her to remove her voice from the airwaves.

That was twisted into me being a racist by those that wanted me off the air, she said. Do I have any ill feelings toward anyone at East West or DCB? Certainly not. They were my true feelings (and) it was just a ploy to get me off the air. They all hated me because I told the truth. It came from the heart. It wasn’t meant with malice.

In the wake of her firing, Stanton self-produced an online radio program for three years before she was elected to the Apple Valley Town Council in 2010.

As she reflected on her early years as a councilwoman, she remembered a defining moment that came not long after she was elected.

The first thing I achieved in the town, Stanton said, which might seem small to many but to me meant so much … (was) to convince the council to display ‘One Nation Under God’ in council chambers. To me, its the soul of who we are in this this country. It’s the foundation of America. We were built on Christianity and that involves all religions I think. My God is everyone’s God to some degree.

But as the town moves into the new year, safety has become one of Stanton’s top priorities.

Reality hits home today after the tragedy in San Bernardino, she said. Most of us believe that we’re somewhat isolated here. Little old Apple Valley or the High Desert, but in fact our eyes have been opened to the fact that we aren’t immune to terrorism or random acts of violence. And that concern should be with all of us. We should carry it. At the same time, we must go on with our lives.

Stanton believes, however, that increased security must be discussed as the region attempts to heal.

Sometimes a disagreement can turn into a hate, Stanton said, and it’s unfortunate, but I would like to see measures taken in council chambers. The simplest step would be a metal detector as you come into council chambers. I believe that will create a sense of security for everyone, not just (the) council.

Despite the concern, Stanton said she is excited to work with her fellow council members — including newly selected Mayor Pro Tem Scott Nassif — in the coming year.

This is a great council, she said. We are able to disagree and discuss issues passionately. It’s a great thing when you can discuss and disagree, but find a way to move forward for the good of the whole, not of the self. So I’m proud to work with my colleagues.

Source: Matthew Cabe, Daily Press

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