Chapter 4: Stevevonna’s Run | Crooked Media
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June 21, 2023
Dreamtown: The Story of Adelanto
Chapter 4: Stevevonna’s Run

In This Episode

With City Hall imploding in scandal, a local resident, Stevevonna Evans, takes it upon herself to run for office, unseat Bug, and clean up the mess he’s left behind. But Evans’ sudden interest in politics isn’t just about solving corruption. She has another, more personal reason for entering the race.

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TRANSCRIPT

 

David Weinberg If you like Dreamtown: The Story of Adelanto and want access to early ad-free episodes, join Friends Of The Pod, Crooked’s new subscription community at crooked.com/friends.

 

Betsy Zaiko Whohooho wee, that last chapter was a humdinger. Jermaine Wright, the city councilman and former preacher, gets busted for trying to burn down his own restaurant and bribing an undercover agent. And Kerr, the mayor, he is now outside of his house, barefoot and in handcuffs. But then he is released without any charges. It seems like Bug’s plan to save the city with weed is crumbling right under the weight of all these shady deals. And then along comes Stevevonna. Stevevonna Evans.

 

David Weinberg Stevevonna Evans doesn’t completely remember how she announced her city council candidacy to the Adelanto public.

 

Stevevonna Evans Um I don’t know that we did. Maybe a Facebook post? Maybe

 

David Weinberg On August 11th of 2018, Stevevonna Evans, who was 34 years old at the time, posted a photo of herself on Facebook. It was taken at city hall. She had one hand raised. She gave an oath that is required of all candidates. Then, she got a precinct map and hit the streets, knocking on doors. And she took advantage of every opportunity she got to speak to the media.

 

Interview Clip There’s, there’s like eight or nine people that are running for office in the city of Adelanto. So what sets you apart from all those all those candidates?

 

Stevevonna Evans Well, I think we start with the obvious. I’m the only woman running.

 

Interview Clip You’re the only woman.

 

Stevevonna Evans I’m the only woman.

 

Interview Clip Okay.

 

Stevevonna Evans So out of the nine of us, there’s just me.

 

David Weinberg And there were many other ways that Stevevonna differed from her opponents. One example, her stance on the city’s relationship with prisons. Adelanto is home to the state’s largest immigration detention center, a privately owned facility.

 

Stevevonna Evans It wasn’t until probably early thirties that I started really tapping into what it meant when people said we were a prison city.

 

David Weinberg The year before she announced her run, a detainee inside Adelanto’s detention facility died in his cell after hanging himself from a bed sheet. His name was Osmar Gonzalez-Gadba. He was the first of three inmates to die inside the facility in a three month period. It was the sort of shocking news that made citizens aware of what was going on in their own backyard.

 

Stevevonna Evans So then I started researching and asking around and getting involved with organizations that were dealing with that kind of stuff and then talking to residents, you know. People that had families, either in the jails or the detention center, and the experiences were definitely eye opening. And it was frustrating, you know. And how do I fix it? Just one person. I don’t know.

 

David Weinberg One way she could fix it was if she had political power. And one of her campaign promises was one that pretty much every Adelanto politician has ever made: to bring good jobs to the city. To do that, she felt it was necessary to rebrand Adelanto. And shed the city’s reputation as a prison town with a long history of corruption.

 

Stevevonna Evans And it’s just like, dang dude, like our elected leaders fuck shit up. Sorry. I’m sorry, guys, but that’s the best way I could put it. Like, they just. They are the reason we are where we are today and not further, you know? But it wasn’t just them. They were just like the tip of the iceberg. Like they were like what the Titanic ran into. But the iceberg had been growing for a long time under the water, right.

 

David Weinberg From the inventor E.H. Richardson who founded this place to Bug, Adelanto had a long history of people with big dreams for this place. And Stevevonna had her own ambitious plans. She wanted to put a stop to the corruption that plagued Adelanto and she wanted to end mass incarceration and curb police violence. But there was another issue that she was reluctant to bring up in public. One that was much more personal to her.

 

Stevevonna Evans My passion definitely is for reform of Children and Family Services.

 

David Weinberg Entering public life as a political candidate meant that there were parts of Stevevonna’s past that would come to light. Things she preferred to keep private. Things that could cost her politically and change the way her community saw her. From Crooked Media, this is Dreamtown: The Story of Adelanto. Chapter 4: Stevevonna’s Run. Stevevonna’s transformation from regular citizen to political candidate was not an easy one. Her decision to run for office could be traced back to the fall of 2013. Back then, she was living with her husband Lofton, and their three children, and she was working at an elementary school.

 

Stevevonna Evans I worked as a substitute for the special needs classes. And so that day I was at Del Rey, I believe, in Victorville, um when I got the text message.

 

David Weinberg The text was from her husband, Lofton. It said that their five-week-old daughter, Haven, was having trouble breathing. So he took her to the hospital and she should come meet him there.

 

Stevevonna Evans So I get to the hospital and, you know, my husband and my daughter are here, and I just need to see what’s going on. And, and then she said, “Okay, well, go have a seat over there and a detective will be with you in a little bit.” Oh, What? I’m confused.

 

David Weinberg Stevevonna says she was put in a waiting room inside the hospital where she sat for hours worrying about her daughter.

 

Stevevonna Evans And so waited for hours, couldn’t get a hold of my husband, didn’t know what was going on. And after hours of waiting, eventually they come in and they say, “Well, your daughter passed away. Do you have any questions?”

 

David Weinberg Stevevonna did have a lot of questions. The biggest one was what caused her daughter’s death. But she would have to wait for the coroner’s report to be finalized. She remembers a detective telling her that she was free to go, but she needed to pick up her two sons, Cameron and Aiden, and bring them to the sheriff’s station.

 

Stevevonna Evans We go pick them up. We go to the police station and we’re asked, and I still I’ve never, I haven’t seen my husband and no idea where he is. I don’t know what’s going on. And crimes against children interviewed me and, you know, they asked a bunch of random questions: Have you ever left your daughter with anyone else? Is there? You know what? No, I don’t know. You know, And that’s when they told me that her arm was broken. And I’m like, “Well, I don’t know how that could have happened. I dressed her this morning and there was nothing wrong. So I don’t, I don’t know.” In the meantime, my husband was getting interviewed by homicide, and after hours of that, it’s well into the night now, they bring us both into a room with it, with a CFS worker. They called it an emergency worker. And she said, “Well, it doesn’t appear that you guys did anything but just to be safe, you know, Stevevonna you and the kids go with your mom to your mom’s house and Lofton can go back home.”

 

David Weinberg For the next six weeks Stevevonna was interviewed several times by Children and Family Services, or CFS, the San Bernardino County Agency responsible for investigating child abuse claims. In addition to her broken arm, Haven had some rib fractures. Stevevonna says she answered all the investigators questions, turned over all her kids’ medical records and brought her two sons to a place called the Children’s Assessment Center, where they were given X-rays. She and her husband also took lie detector tests. After weeks of answering questions and providing documents, CFS seemed satisfied. Stevevonna says she was told that she and her kids could go back home to her husband, Lofton. For the first time since their daughter died, the family was together.

 

Stevevonna Evans And four days later CFS showed up at our house to detain the boys. And, you know, I’m, “Well, hold on, let’s just work this out.” I don’t know what’s going on. They wouldn’t tell us anything. And they were like, “No, we’re taking them.”

 

David Weinberg Stevevonna’s daughter Haven had just died unexpectedly, and now the county was taking her two other children away from her. And she just couldn’t take it anymore. She completely shut down.

 

Stevevonna Evans I had three days of darkness. Closed in my room to the point where my husband called my mom like, “I don’t know what, I don’t know what to do.” And my mom came over and she said, verbatim, “How the fuck does this fix anything?” And we got up and then got to work. Yes, my daughter passed away and I probably still haven’t mourned that properly. But I had living children that I had to fight for. So I didn’t have a choice but to get up and think, “Okay, they’ve got my kids. How do I get them back? Let’s go.”

 

David Weinberg Stevevonna’s children were taken from her in November and placed in foster care, and she was given a trial date where she could argue her case for getting them back. As the case progressed, CFS looked into her one-and-a-half year old son Aiden’s medical history. They had zeroed in on an incident that happened several months earlier.

 

Stevevonna Evans When he was about four months old. We got him vaccinated and he ended up having an allergic reaction to the vaccination. So first his skin on his face literally started falling off, and then about a week later, he stopped moving his leg. And so I immediately took him to the emergency room and they said, “Oh, it looks like it’s a viral infection. So, you know, in a couple of weeks just start moving it again.” And sure enough, in about ten days, he started moving his leg in like nothing. So we never thought about it again.

 

David Weinberg But the CFS doctor who looked at Aiden’s X-rays came to a different conclusion than the doctors who evaluated Aiden in person.

 

Stevevonna Evans Their doctor said, “No, he didn’t have a viral infection. He had a spiral fracture and you guys broke his leg.”

 

David Weinberg Stevevonna was horrified at this accusation. And also confused. How had this CFS doctor come to a different conclusion than every other doctor who had examined Aiden in person?

 

Stevevonna Evans Aiden had seen five different medical people, right. The ER doctor, the urgent care doctor, his primary care doctor, and two different X-ray specialists who all agreed that it was a viral infection.

 

David Weinberg In the meantime, the coroner who examined Haven had released his autopsy report. He was not able to determine the cause of death, but he did conclude that there was no fatal trauma.

 

Stevevonna Evans He’s like, “I can’t say how it happened, but it doesn’t appear to be abuse.”

 

David Weinberg Stevevonna was relieved by the coroner’s report, and she expected her case to be dropped and to be reunited with her sons. But that’s not what happened.

 

Stevevonna Evans Then we go through the case and, you know, at that point they found the allegations to be true.

 

David Weinberg Which allegation?

 

Stevevonna Evans So everything for my daughter was dropped with the coroner’s report. But with the boys, they found those allegations to be true.

 

David Weinberg The court agreed with the CFS doctor who said that Aidan’s leg injury was caused by abuse. So how did the CFS doctor come to this conclusion?

 

Charles Hyman Much of the criteria that they use is not based in science. It’s speculation.

 

David Weinberg This is Dr. Charles Hyman, the pediatrician who testified on Stevevonna’s behalf in court. Stevevonna gave him permission to talk with me about her case. I visited his office one day in the Inland Empire and found him practically buried under stacks of books and papers that were spread out all over the floor and on every flat surface in sight.

 

Charles Hyman Hi. How you doing?

 

David Weinberg Good. How are you doing? David. Nice to meet you.

 

Charles Hyman Nice. Come on in.

 

David Weinberg He’s been a practicing pediatrician for decades, and he’s critical of the doctors who testify for the prosecution in cases like these. There’s a growing body of scientific evidence that some kids simply have weak bones and that they can have fractures that go unnoticed. It’s possible that Aiden’s leg was fractured during a diaper change or that one of the doctors who examined him may have fractured it. Dr. Hyman was critical of the way that CFS concluded that Aiden’s fracture could only have been caused by abuse.

 

Charles Hyman They totally throw out the caretaker’s history. Totally throw it up. They pass polygraphs, even. They get rid of all this and come to a diagnosis of abuse.

 

David Weinberg This was another baffling part of Stevevonna’s case. Polygraphs are not admissible in court because they can be unreliable. But Stevevonna says that the homicide detectives gave her and her husband polygraph tests, and she says the results show that both of them have been truthful when they said they had never abused any of their children. When CFS took Stevevonna’s children away from her, they placed her older boy, Cameron, in the custody of his biological father. Stevevonna had him before she met Lofton, and Aiden was given to Stevevonna’s mother. The good news was that Stevevonna could appeal the court’s decision.

 

Stevevonna Evans We fought that, you know, did an appeal. Did all of that. Didn’t matter. Didn’t matter.

 

David Weinberg It took over a year for the appeals process to play out. Aiden was one-and-a-half years old when he was taken from Stevevonna. Now he was three. And the court decided to terminate Stevevonna’s parental rights for good.

 

Stevevonna Evans They ended up terminating my rights for Aiden because they said that he had been with my mom longer than he had been with me, so that he was. Sorry.  So that he was more attached to my mom than he was to me. Also not true considering I had him until he was a year-and-a-half. And now he’s, you know, at that point he was about three. So it was, and and he was in foster care part of the time, but whatever that was their reasoning.

 

David Weinberg This was the beginning of a shift happening in the way that Stevevonna saw the world. She had just lost a child. Then CFS took her two remaining kids, even though a doctor had concluded that neither she nor her husband were responsible for her daughter’s death. She was heartbroken and angry and confused. How did a system designed to protect children cause so much trauma for her and her family? And why was no one in charge of doing something about this? Stevevonna says that her social worker told her about a loophole that would allow her to get Aiden back. If her mother adopted him, she could return him to Stevevonna, which she did. And Stevevonna was able to get Cameron back through a separate appeals process. CFS denied my request for an interview, but I did speak with a San Bernardino CFS social worker who asked to remain anonymous. They told me this arrangement is not uncommon and that social workers often acknowledge to the family that the system is broken. And though they can’t formally endorse this process, it happens all the time. After losing custody of their kids, Stevevonna and her husband Lofton separated and eventually divorced. Then, four years after Haven died, Stevevonna got pregnant with another boy who she named Declan. And her nightmare returned. The day after Declan was born, a CFS social worker showed up in Stevevonna’s hospital room.

 

Stevevonna Evans They ended up telling me that when they discharge me in the baby, that they’re going to take the baby into custody and they’re also going to take Cameron again. And I’ll need to fight through the system again. So here we, here we go, right. But what they were alleging this time was simply that Declan was in danger because we had a previous case, not because there was abuse or anything like that. But because we had a previous case four years prior, he was in danger.

 

David Weinberg So once again, Stevevonna is fighting to get her kids back. And this time around, she and her attorney made a shocking discovery. Something they were never supposed to know about.

 

Stevevonna Evans I was in my lawyer’s office the night before we were set to go to court the next morning.

 

David Weinberg Stevevonna says that her lawyer was reading through all the evidence that the CFS attorneys had faxed over when he found a document that should have been redacted but wasn’t.

 

Stevevonna Evans And he hands me the paper, the discovery, and it shows that my mom was the one that called CFS when I was delivering Declan via C-section, right. So that’s how they showed up before I was even able to sit up.

 

David Weinberg This was confusing because after adopting Aiden, her mother returned him to Stevevonna. Why would she do that if she thought Stevevonna was an unfit mother? The next day, Stevevonna confronted her mom, but she denied calling CFS. Stevevonna says she later discovered phone records that showed a call made from her mother’s phone to CFS on the same day listed on the unredacted document. But ultimately it didn’t matter who called CFS, Stevevonna still had to argue her case to get Declan back. Meanwhile, CFS had placed Declan with Stevevonna’s sister. It took months for the case to go through the courts. Stevevonna was required to have a psychological evaluation. The doctor stated that there was no evidence to indicate that Stevevonna was abusive, but she did say, “She and her husband have used some questionable disciplinary techniques like wall sitting that might not be appropriate.” The psychologist concluded that in her opinion, Stevevonna would benefit from reunification services. Despite this evaluation, Stevevonna’s parental rights were terminated, just like before. Except this time her sister became the legal guardian of Declan. And in the end, Stevevonna got him back through the same loophole, she got Aiden back. Her sister adopted Declan and returned him to Stevevonna. One of the biggest questions I had about this was why would Stevevonna’s mother return Aidan to her if she thought Stevevonna’s home was unsafe? Do you have theories about why you think she did it?

 

Stevevonna Evans Um, I mean, the only thing that makes sense to me is money. Unfortunately, this agency pays foster parents a whole lot of money to, have to take kids. And in our case, it’s a high 900. So close to $1,000 that my mom gets for Aiden and close to $1,000 that my sister gets for Declan.

 

David Weinberg Every month?

 

Stevevonna Evans Every month. Like clockwork, right?

 

David Weinberg To this day?

 

Stevevonna Evans To this day. And they’ll get that until they turn 18.

 

David Weinberg Even though both of them live with you.

 

Stevevonna Evans Correct.

 

David Weinberg And they don’t give that money to you for the kids?

 

Stevevonna Evans No.

 

David Weinberg How do you feel about that.

 

Stevevonna Evans Um you know, it’s, I try to stay positive. At least I have my kids, right. And it’s money that, it’s not like they took money from me to do that, right. So it’s definitely frustrating to see their money is being spent on things that aren’t them. Right. So on a good day, when I, most of the time I’m just like, whatever, I don’t care. I have my kids. They can do whatever they want. Sometimes I’m like, “Yeah, I could really use an extra $24,000 a year,” you know? Considering I’m actually raising the kids.

 

David Weinberg Today Stevevonna lives with all three of her sons, though two of them do not legally belong to her. In December of 2022, a civil grand jury found that the San Bernardino CFS was too broken to fix. Their investigation found that CFS had lacked a comprehensive and complete background check system and that social workers were not supposed to have caseloads of more than 40 per month. But the average caseload for social workers in San Bernardino County is 70 to 90. Stevevonna wasn’t the same after her experience with CFS. She came to see the whole system as problematic from the overworked social workers who don’t have the resources to properly investigate claims, to the lack of transparency about how these decisions are made and the financial incentives that reward people for taking kids away from their parents with little oversight over how that money is spent.

 

Stevevonna Evans There was a reason why God was putting me through this crazy and it was to fight for people. Because what I saw over that time was families. I’m so sorry. Old stuff. I’m not supposed be crying over old stuff. Just watching families in that office, you know. And I don’t know their story. I don’t know why they’re there. It’s a mess. Right? And so I felt like that was my calling. Right. And the reason why I was shown that was to be able to speak for those people. And if you look at the attorney general’s report, they take 3 million kids a year and of that, 2.7 are wrongfully removed.

 

David Weinberg The actual number is 2.5 million. And what Stevevonna is referring to is a nationwide study done by Health and Human Services. It found that in 2012, of the 3.2 million children who were referred to the system, 2.5 million were declared non-victims. Having gone through the system herself, Stevevonna wasn’t surprised by this study.

 

Stevevonna Evans If they could do this to me, an innocent mother you know, of course they could do it to anybody. People in these prisons that are saying I’m innocent. Whereas before I’d be like, “Yeah, whatever.” Now I’m like, “They probably are.” Like. So it definitely opened my eyes. And again, just the rabbit hole. Okay. So it’s not just black men in prisons. It’s immigrants coming over asking for asylum, being put in detention centers. And then it’s, you know, unarmed black men being shot. And it just definitely opened my eyes really quick to this world that I didn’t even know existed. And so that’s where it really started when we went through that fight. That’s really what sparked that social justice. And that somebody’s got to speak for this.

 

David Weinberg Stevevonna decided she could no longer sit back and do nothing while countless families and individuals fought against broken systems. She was going to do something about it and she would start at the lowest rungs of government. The city council. After the break, Stevevonna finds some new allies on the campaign trail. And together they set out to topple Bug and Mayor Kerr. Reforming Child and Family Services was a key issue for Stevevonna, but she never brought it up during the campaign. She didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that she’d lost custody of her children, which could be exploited by her opponents. She says her team went so far as to prepare a video explaining her side of the story in case it came up, but it never did. So she never had to address it. As a newcomer to politics, Stevevonna was winging it. At the time, she was working full time for a nonprofit. She was raising her three kids as a single mom and trying to make it to as many local events and shake as many hands as possible. She raised money for campaign signs and drove around town, sticking them into the dirt along Highway 395. In addition to reforming prisons and CFS and cleaning up the mess that Jermaine and Kerr had made at City Hall, Stevevonna made another promise to voters. And it was probably the least sexy campaign promise I’ve ever heard. She wanted to finalize overdue financial audits. These audits of the city budget were supposed to be done annually, but the city was behind. Meanwhile, Bug and his colleagues have been going around town bragging about how much money all this cannabis was bringing in. And yet there didn’t seem to be any meaningful improvements in the city. So an audit would shed some light on this conundrum. And one of the great things about campaigning for city council was that twice a month Stevevonna could show up to city council meetings and speak directly to her opponent, John “Bug” Woodard, in a public forum.

 

Stevevonna Evans So Stevevonna Evans, I’m a resident here. My issue with this is we just did a quick Google search on this company and the cons are horrible.

 

David Weinberg At this meeting, she criticized the council for its decision to outsource some of the city’s IT services to a private company.

 

Stevevonna Evans We need to do our research and make sure that we’re not just handing $288 away to a company that we know nothing about. What’s the problem with training our three people? It’s already in the budgets, what we’ve been doing. Let’s, let’s not continue to fire people. Let’s train the people we have and make sure they’re efficient for our city. That’s it.

 

City Council Alright, thank you.

 

David Weinberg By the time Stevevonna announced her run for office,city council member Charley Glasper had decided to retire at the end of his term. That meant there were two seats up for grabs in the November election. Glasper’s and Burg’s. There were nine candidates vying for those two seats, including Bug, who was running for reelection. And Bug had the benefit of a captive audience, so to speak. Every two weeks at City Hall, he could speak from the dais and tout his successes as a council member to any potential voters in the audience. Like this time, he talked about bringing a rodeo to town.

 

Bug And come on out and seeing a rodeo and a rodeo, it’s really exciting that bring in. And I bring in entertainment through our network.

 

David Weinberg And sometimes Bug used his pulpit to pat himself on the back. Every year on his property, he put on a blues festival called Woodytock, an event he was clearly proud of.

 

Bug Over the weekend, of that weekend, the sixth annual Woodystock Blues Festival that I produce, went off pretty good. It’s pretty much a hit like every year.

 

David Weinberg Other than these council meetings and the occasional interview with the media, one of the only other opportunities the candidates had to get their message out was at the debate.

 

City Council The two council seats up for grabs here in the November election.

 

David Weinberg About a month before the election, the candidates gathered for this debate at the Adelanto Stadium. It was the first day of October. 2018. Four years ago, Bug ran as an outsider. He showed up late to that debate, wearing a straw cowboy hat and a Hawaiian shirt. His campaign slogan was: businessman, not politician.But now, four years later, he was part of the establishment. And he looked it. This time around, he wore a suit and tie. His hair was still long, but he’d replaced his scraggly beard with a handlebar mustache. And when it came time to introduce himself at the debate, he opened with a familiar story about how he had come to Adelanto after a rude mortgage lender told him he couldn’t afford to buy a house in California.

 

Bug Well, I moved here in 1998 and…

 

David Weinberg Bug also touted his success as an artist and a businessman. And then he concluded his introduction with a very bold campaign statement.

 

Bug The greatest thing I’ve ever been able to do is taking this broke city, fix it. This city was 2.7 down. Going bankrupt. And I fixed it.

 

David Weinberg Bug was saying, vote for me because I fixed Adelanto. As if he were Superman and he’d just stop the giant meteor from smashing the city to bits. The question was what did Bug mean by “fixed?” Because many of the problems that plagued Adelanto hadn’t magically disappeared simply because it was legal to grow weed. The roads were still terrible. Lots of folks didn’t trust the water coming out of their taps, which was often cloudy and smelled like chemicals. And one of the few non-weed businesses that had opened in the city –– Fat Boyz Grill –– was closed down and the owner, Jermaine Wright, was in prison. So many people felt that the promises Bug had made about the city getting rich had not been fulfilled. Not to mention the fact that the FBI had recently raided City Hall, the mayor’s home, and the jet room. Which Bug had brokered the real estate deal on. All that to say is that as a candidate, Bug carried a lot of baggage. Unlike Stevevonna Evans, who was a fresh face to Adelanto politics.

 

Stevevonna Evans So my name is Stevevonna Evans. I am a 24 year resident of everywhere in town. I, too grew up here and went to school with George. Still located on the base.

 

David Weinberg Stevevonna talked about the importance of building a community center and of bringing real jobs to Adelanto .

 

Stevevonna Evans But I think that we also need to focus on 21st century jobs.

 

David Weinberg She also made it clear that she was pro-cannabis.

 

Stevevonna Evans But I believe what it’s going to take for the cannabis industry to help the city is for it to be regulated properly. Then it goes into fixing the infrastructure and getting the services for the community. Without that tax revenue, there’s no point in having cannabis here. So if you’re going to be here, then you’re going to pay your fair share just like everyone else, or we don’t need you here. And that’s my stance on that.

 

David Weinberg And her closing argument was that the past four years of scandals at City Hall needed to come to an end.

 

Stevevonna Evans So I do believe the city is unstable right now.  As the council, a lot of the residents have lost trust in them which makes us unstable. With all the different things going on, it’s important that we have accountability. But let’s not talk about it anymore. Let’s be the change, guys. We need positive, ethical, transparent government. And that’s what I plan to give to the city.

 

David Weinberg As I’ve mentioned, these candidate forums are poorly attended affairs. So it’s hard to say how much of an impact they had on the election, but it gave Stevevonna a chance to set herself apart from the other candidates. Stevevonna also had a couple of allies on the campaign trail. One was Gabriel Reyes. Reyes was running for mayor in the same election, and he and Stevevonna were aligned on a lot of their political views.

 

Stevevonna Evans I think towards the end of the campaign, we decided, Gabe and I, that we wanted to kind of loop someone else in. We kind of had our eyes on who we thought would would work well with us and those kinds of things.

 

David Weinberg Reyes and Stevevonna reached out to Gerardo Hernandez, who went by Gerry. He was a small business owner who was also running for city council. Stevevonna and Reyes felt that it would be to their advantage to all work together. Hernandez, Reyes and Stevevonna all shared a similar vision for the future of Adelanto. They wanted to put an end to all the corruption of the last four years. On the night of the election, the three of them were all hanging out together at Reyes’ home.

 

Stevevonna Evans I stayed there with our families and watched the results.

 

David Weinberg They huddled together, nervously waiting as the results of the city council election came trickling in. And when the polls closed and all the votes were counted. It was a sweep. Reyes is was the new mayor of Adelanto. And Hernandez and Stevevonna had both won the open seats. No more Bug. No more Kerr. No more Glasper.

 

Stevevonna Evans For me, it was like, now the work begins. Right? That’s kind of where I went. Like, okay, well, we did this and now we get to work. Now all the plans, all the things that we talked about, we actually have to implement and figure out how to implement, cause we none of us had any experience. And so we had to figure out, now how do we take all of these “campaign promises”  and bring them to life?

 

David Weinberg It was a repeat of the previous election in the sense that a new majority had been voted in and this new majority had their work cut out for them. Because once they got into office, they started to realize that all those rosy financial projections that Mayor Kerr, Bug and Jermain had made about the city’s finances may have been more fantasy than reality. So Stevevonna’s call for a boring, unsexy audit, was maybe more urgent than anyone expected. What is the city budget like these days?

 

Stevevonna Evans Ha ha ha. You funny. So it is just a bunch of made up numbers that they pulled from God knows where and put into a book and called it a budget.

 

David Weinberg Soon Stevevonna would get a grasp on the real numbers and they were far from what Bug and Kerr had said they were.

 

Stevevonna Evans There’s $4.8 million that we have no idea where it went. That kind of was depressing, very frustrating for us as a new council. Like you all just lost $4 billion and we all just cool with that.  Just write it off. It’s cool. We what? Who do we fire? What happens? So it’s deep.

 

David Weinberg That’s next time. If you loved this episode of Dreamtown: The Story of Adelanto, you can hear the next episode right now. For early  ad-free access to episodes, join Friends Of The Pod, Crooked’s new subscription community at crooked.com/friends. Adelanto is an original podcast from Crooked Media. It’s hosted, written and executive produced by me, David Weinberg. Nick White is our story editor. Angel Carreras is our associate producer. Sound DesigN, mix and mastering by Brendan Baker of Phenomephon. Our theme song is by Icarus Himself, and our original score is by Eric Phillips. Fact Checking by Amy Tardif. Additional production help from Ines Mesa, Sydney Rapp and Kobe Copeland. Thanks to Betsy Zaiko for narrating portions of the show. From Crooked Media, our executive producers are Sarah Geismer, Katie Long and Mary Knauf with special thanks to Allison Falzetta, Laura Smith, Andrew Leland, Richard Parks III, Shocker Molly and Katya Apekina.