Adelanto Mayor Rich Kerr is finishing up his first full year in office. He took some time to chat about what sees for Adelanto’s future, the successes so far, and his frustrations in trying to make things happen.
Once a Marine, always a Marine. That saying best sums up Adelanto Mayor Rich Kerr’s approach to improving life for the city’s residents.
The Marine turned mayor says the only way to defeat a Marine is . . .. Well you know what they say. And he has no intention of being defeated any time soon. He has big plans for his small city and he wants to see those plans come to fruition, not only for the sake of his children and especially his eight grandchildren, but for all of the young people who call Adelanto home.
Kerr is quick to point out that he provides strong leadership and surrounds himself with good and great people, but it is the city employees, volunteers, community service groups, and residents who turned Adelanto around and are making it the city they all want it to be. “Our path is 180 degrees from what it was just a year ago,” says the Mayor. “We are fighting our way up the ladder one step at a time. We are making progress.”
When asked if the job is what he thought it would be when he decided to run for his first elected office, he says some things are not as he expected. His biggest frustration is not being able to get things done more quickly. “You have to learn to work around all of the red tape,” Kerr says with a laugh. “Government moves at its own pace, not our pace.”
In a recent phone interview, Mayor Kerr talked about some of the exciting things coming to Adelanto. He says economic development is the single most important issue the council can tackle. With economic development, there will be jobs for residents and sales tax to run the city.
Although he could not discuss many of the projects in detail yet, Kerr said the city is in discussions with 10 or 12 organizations he hoping will move to Adelanto. He says the city is not trying to lure businesses from other areas of the Victor Valley, but rather from down the hill and other parts of Southern California.
There was one project, however, where he was willing to name names. The Lewis Group is planning a shopping center near Mojave and Highway 395. At this point the city has to get bids to upgrade infrastructure, and once that is completed, the project will begin.
To give readers an idea of the caliber of the project planned, it was the Lewis Group that developed the Target centers in Hesperia and on Highway 18 in Apple Valley. Although Target is not expected to come to Adelanto, several other major retailers are expected to sign leases for the new project.
Kerr and his team are seeking out specific types of businesses to fill current voids within the city. He said he hopes to bring in a major Hispanic grocery store as well as a medium-size hardware store so that residents have their retail needs met close to home.
Adelanto residents are not the only ones he envisions shopping in Adelanto. The mayor is hopeful that the city will soon be home to chain stores and restaurants that do not have other high desert locations, thus making Adelanto a destination spot for all of the Victor Valley.
On a larger scale, with the widening of Highway 395, he wants to see businesses strategically placed that will entice some of the one million plus travelers each who take 395 each year heading to Bakersfield, Mammoth Lakes, Reno, and parts beyond to stop in Adelanto and spend some money. With the Palmdale to Barstow corridor in the works, having a wide variety of business will become even more lucrative for the city in the future.
Mayor Kerr says the high-speed rail project going thru Adelanto is also a done deal. Although he does not expect the train to stop in Adelanto, he does expect additional track to be laid at the same time. When that happens, Adelanto will be a prime location for factories and manufacturing.
“For the longest time Adelanto was behind the eight ball,” said Mayor Kerr. “Now we are getting ahead of the eight ball and letting it push us along. The future is indeed bright if we are willing to take advantage of all that is coming our way.”