Article originally posted on VVdailypress.com Aug. 16, 2020.
CANDIDATE PROFILE: COURTNEY HOPES TO BOOST IMAGE AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN BARSTOW
For Paul Courtney, the itch to become an elected official arrived while starting a capstone project for his doctorate in 2014.
Now called ECBarstow, the nonprofit entrepreneurial resource center helps people graduate from high school, enroll in college or start their own business.
But even though he had been operating a janitorial company, PACE Services Corporation, in Barstow since 1986, Courtney said he was surprised at the struggle he said he faced when opening his new venture.
“I had to fight my own city to get my building built and open. It was unbelievable to me just to go through the amount of bureaucracy,” he said. “ (I thought to myself) if I ever move back up into the Barstow area, I’ve got to get on the council because I don’t want anyone else to ever go through this.”
Born and raised in the city, Courtney did move back full-time in 2018.
He is one of three candidates running for mayor against incumbent Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre, who has twice run unopposed and was first elected in 2012.
The other candidates are Virginia Brown, a sales representative, and Nathaniel Pickett, a retired military officer.
With a doctorate in business administration and entrepreneurship, and as the founder of several other businesses, Courtney said that if elected he will focus on improving the image of the city and making it attractive for companies to invest there.
A proposal listed on his BetterBarstow.com website would provide newly formed small businesses a 50% reduction in start-up fees and costs for the first year.
Courtney said he also plans to hire a full-time professional grant writer who would “initially and aggressively start seeking grants for our city.”
“If people in our city really want to move our city forward with evidence-based measurable results, it’s clear that I can make it happen,” he said.
In an interview Thursday, Courtney said he was tired of hearing local residents say “It’s just Barstow,” an implication that nothing will ever change in the city.
“We must remove the mindset of acceptability of status quo, which equates to mediocrity,” he said.
In a statement last month, the mayoral candidate attributed the apathetic mindset to a “decade of uncertain leadership from our governing officials.”
Courtney said past actions led to depleted cash reserves, excessive spending on top management salaries and “so much debt that in 2018 the Mayor and Council were forced to ask the Barstow taxpayers to pass a 1% sales tax increase/Measure Q to help balance the budget and the eliminate the fear (of) losing our Fire Department … shame on them!”
According to Courtney, he served as an elected member on the Barstow Fire Protection District Board from 2005 to 2010.
That last year, the BFPD changed from an independent special district to a subsidiary district of the city, meaning the City Council began acting as the Fire Board.
On his website, Courtney said he would establish a separate fire commission for the district if he became mayor and “continue efforts to keep BFPD under local control.”
As a professor at Barstow Community College, Courtney sees a parallel between what he teaches his students and how he would govern as the city’s top elected official.
In one class, he said his goal is to convince students new to the college experience that they have what it takes to succeed and to prevent them from dropping out.
“Our whole objective is to convince them that they’re worthy, they’re special and they matter,” Courtney said. “Well, my objective in becoming mayor of my hometown is for people to realize we’re all worthy, we’re all special, we’re all unique and we all can have a value.
“And whatever that value is, we can bring it together for increased unity to improve our community.”
Article by Martin Estacio MEstacio@VVDailyPress.com. The original version can be found here https://www.vvdailypress.com/story/news/politics/elections/candidate-profiles/2020/08/16/candidate-profile-courtney-hopes-to-boost-image-and-economic-growth-in-barstow/113237270/