By Rene De La Cruz
After serving the people of Apple Valley, Councilman Rick Roelle said it’s been a “crazy and wonderful” eight years.
“It’s been fun and I’ve met some incredible people while I was on the council,” said Roelle, as his term comes to an end tonight. “It’s been an incredible journey.”
Roelle, who came up short during his run for 1st District Supervisor of San Bernardino County in November, said the idea of not being involved on the council or in politics will be difficult.
“Going into the race, I knew there was of chance of not winning,” said Roelle, who also served as mayor for two years. “It was a risk I had to take, but life is a risk.”
During his time on the council, Roelle said his biggest challenge was holding the line at keeping development standards high while trying to keep the town’s heritage in mind.
Roelle first ran for a council seat after he saw outside sources, with their suburbia and smaller lot mentality, encroaching on the town’s identity in the late ’90s.
“Many people move here because of the quality of life and the hometown feel,” said Roelle, whose family moved to Apple Valley in 1975. “People really like the larger lots and custom built homes, but there is a balance to growth and that has been the challenge.”
As Art Bishop and Larry Cusack ready to take their council seats, Roelle said he believes both men are qualified to lead the town into the future.
“They both have a lot of experience with the town,” Roelle said. “I may have not always agreed with Larry and Art, but overall I think they are headed in the right direction.”
The biggest issue facing the new council will be the town’s general fund which was once at $18 million and has decreased to $3 million, Rolle said.
“That needs to be addressed quickly,” Roelle said. “The budget needs to be balanced with the idea of maintaining the level of service people are used to. The town also needs to make the golf course nine holes, shut it down or just sell it.”
Roelle initially spoke against the town buying the course, but later voted for the purchase after the town spent millions of dollars in litigation.
With Hesperia enjoying a season of retail revenue prosperity, Roelle would like to see a bit retail move into town.
“Victorville and Hesperia are closer to the freeway, so they are going to get a shot at retail coming in, so Apple Valley really needs to work hard to draw those retail dollars in,” Roelle said.
Roelle is thankful for the relationships and friendships that he has gathered over the years, but former mayor Bob Sagona was at the top of Roelle’s list.
“He is a true statesman, and every time he brought something to the table it was valuable,” Roelle said. “Bob Sagona is one of a kind.”
Roelle, who is a lieutenant with San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, said he does not plan on running for a seat anytime soon.
“I’ve been with the department for 30 years, so I plan on being with them for a couple more and then we’ll see what happens,” Roelle said. “I’m not ruling anything out.”