When he moved to Victorville fresh out of college, the newly incorporated city had a population of 8,000 or so. It had no hospital of its own and one drivein theater, with George Air Force Base as its economic center.
Having spent nearly four decades guiding that little desert town through the base’s devastating closure to become the sprawling city of 110,000 it is today, Terry Caldwell has decided not to make a bid for a ninth term on the City Council.
“It has been a wonderful 40-year odyssey,” Caldwell said. “It’s been fun, it’s been challenging, it’s been exhilarating.”
It’s also been unexpected, the eight-time mayor said.
One of Caldwell’s most defining moments is the key role he played in 1995 in mediating an end to the war with Adelanto for control of former George Air Force Base, now Southern California Logistics Airport.
“I think the resolution of that legal battle, with Victorville being the one to take control of the base, is probably the most important milestone in not just the city’s history but the history of the entire Victor Valley,” Caldwell said. “Who knows what the situation would be if the base had been allowed to be subdivided off.”
Another defining moment, he said, was when City Manager Jim Cox helped him convince developers to build the Mall of Victor Valley here. Before that, he recalled with a chuckle, “Most everybody, once or twice a month, would drive down to San Bernardino – to Third and E Street, I think it was – to buy food and clothes.”
The road’s gotten a bit bumpier lately, with Caldwell taking heat alongside other longstanding council members for multimilliondollar power ventures that have yet to materialize, massive staff layoffs and budget cutbacks, and an ongoing investigation by the San Bernardino County grand jury into Victorville’s finances and management practices.
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