Miles: Valley's Boy Scout chief looks to tackle crime, education in state Assembly

September 19, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

Republican Blake Miles of El Centro announced he will run for the District 80 state Assembly seat that will be left vacant as Assemblyman David Kelley, R-Idyllwild, retires at the end of his term.

Kelley would not have been able to run for re-election because his home has been placed in Riverside County's District 64 after redistricting.

The 45-year-old Miles is the Imperial Valley district executive for the Boy Scouts of America. He's worked for the Boy Scouts for three years and before that taught math for more than 10 years.

Miles is running for the Assembly to "help people."

He said the skills he uses with the Boy Scouts will come in handy in the political realm.

"I work with 1,000 youth in Imperial County and more than 200 volunteers," he said.

Of the Boy Scouts, Miles said, "It's very similar to politics — coordinating a lot of people, getting the word out and trying to make a difference in people's lives."


Despite various attempts, Miles hasn't held elected office since being student body president during his senior year at Calexico High School in 1974. He was an El Centro planning commissioner in the '80s and has worked in the community since graduating from Brigham Young University in 1982.

He is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints, and said he will count on the support of the more than 1,700 Imperial County LDS members and the double that amount in Riverside County.

The district he will attempt to represent will be similar to the district Kelley represented save the Idyllwild area.

"I see the areas as very similar. Coachella and Indio are very similar to Imperial County; economically and socially," he said.

As for his party affiliation, Miles said, "I'm fairly conservative but I think the (District 80 constituents) are fairly conservative. They believe in God and family."

He said he would have no problem representing the concerns of Democratic Hispanic Catholics who make up the majority of District 80.

"The family is very important (to Catholics and LDS members). I spend a lot of time with people who are Catholic," he said.

The two major campaign issues he will focus on are education and crime.

On education: "We have a lot of students that are not motivated. We need to help the parents motivate their children."

Miles advocates a plan similar to one with the Boy Scouts that would reward achieving students with "bucks" they could redeem for goods.

"They're called ‘Scout Bucks.' We could convert that same idea to ‘School Bucks,'" he said.

"We need short-term reward or punishment for academic performance," he added. "If you can motivate the students the teachers' job will be easy."

Miles said education is "the pathway out of poverty" for Imperial County.

Miles thinks prisons and support services for Mexicali's industries could become an even more integral part of the Valley's economy.

"It's important we are diversified: agriculture, beef processing plant, prisons, U.S. Gypsum. Now we are becoming diversified," he said.

Miles said about crime: "I can walk across the streets in El Centro and not be a victim of violent crime. If I had parked my bicycle in front of (this newspaper's El Centro) office I wouldn't expect it to be there."

He said 80 percent of property thefts are drug-related.

"What we need to do is give law enforcement tools to reduce the drug environment," Miles said. "They should be able to write a ticket as opposed to arresting someone.

"A ticket basis would minimize the paperwork for drug infractions and a penalty would be doubled if the case was challenged in court (and the person was found guilty.)"

Miles proposes attacking "the first-time user — penalize the first offense" — with a three-fold stratagem.

"Suspend the driver's license, a $500 fine for example and community service," he said.

He said of the movement by the state to put more drug offenders into treatment facilities: "If it results in our houses being broken into more often I don't think it is worth it."

As for the New River/Salton Sea: "A lot of the solution has to be locally.

"Yes, the environment is important but we need to balance it with economics. I wrote a paper about the New River. We could look at inexpensive ways at treating the water that is in the New River."

Miles has concerns with a proposal being studied by the city of Calexico that would cover a section of the New River from the border to Highway 98.

He favors a plan that would mean a "30-mile wastewater treatment plant along the New River" to clean the water in addition to coordinating cleanup efforts in Mexico.

He advocates a plan to install a dike in the Salton Sea similar to a dike in Utah's Great Salt Lake that would separate salty areas of the Salton Sea from the incoming freshwater of the cleaner New River of the future.

Miles has five children. He is widowed from his first wife and is married to a former Mexicali resident who has three children from her previous marriage. He had one child from his first marriage and one from his current marriage.

His oldest son, Pedro, is a freshman at BYU.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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