There’s a Mayoral Election in Riverside? On June 7?

…my first impressions and two cents about the Riverside League of Women Voter’s mayoral candidate forum, Stratton Center at Bordwell Park, April 28, 2016

Riverside Mayoral forum 04-28-16.jpg

“I’m new here. Is she as bat-shit crazy as she sounds?” I asked the nice fellow who sat down next to me at last night’s Mayoral candidate forum. (Thank the goddesses for the League of Women Voters!) “No,” he replied. “The Mayor launched an investigation into two councilmembers… She’s right. He’s gotta go!”

Don and I relocated to Riverside in June 2013 for my work and I’ve now happily retired here. Of course, we’re still bi-citial with a house and “kids” and our very first grandchild in LA. Los Angeles took this Jersey girl in and gave me a home; it’s a hard place to leave.

We love it here!

Riverside works — as a new-comer, as a renter, as happy retirees! It is beautiful, perhaps the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, and I’ve been to Costa Rica! Services are delivered seamlessly: the roads are paved, the trees trimmed; its public utility has tons of money amassed for infrastructure investments. Bond ratings are strong, improving. I’ve known and loved John Russo, Riverside’s new city manager, for a thousand years. Gary Geuss comes quite respected in the LA City Attorney’s office, another great catch for Riverside.

So, for me, given how well-managed Riverside appears to be, walking in to a mayoral forum, the incumbent gets a fair amount of credit. Mayor Rusty Bailey dominated the debate – until Councilmember Paul Davis showed up (about an hour in). Both men seem to be competent, knowledgeable electeds. Davis spoke well about his work with the California League of Cities, had more concise answers to policy and budget questions. If I heard correctly, he suggested it may be time to consider rent control in Riverside, particularly in light of concerns for the City’s seniors and students.

Bailey’s got a great personal story and he’s done a good job.

I was at his first state-of-the-city address, joked at the time that he’d obviously written the speech himself, likely done the PowerPoint himself as well. There were oranges in the goodie bags!

He’s a strong second choice, for me.

Clumsy forum format, at first they rotate the questions among the candidates in order. First question: Traffic? (Various answers, all actually answering, in my opinion, how does the City grow and flourish without adding more people and additional housing. Mayor reports good increases in the use of public transportation, announces new express bus from UC-R to Corona, coming soon.)

What would you do to fill a potential $1.5 million budget gap? Would you accept proposals for across-the-board budgets cuts of 4%? Including the police department?

Not much support for either Measure A (adding a new city prosecution unit) or Measure B (pay raises for councilmembers)

If I had to vote today, I’d vote for Nancy Melendez. She knows the City, and she knows what she’s talking about.  Clearly, she’s come up in the City’s rich service movement and cares about the City and its workers. That’s important to me. She gets the nuance and delicacy of local government, the importance of local services. She may even be a Democrat!

The final candidate at the forum directed me to “her website” when we chatted: Thirty Miles of Corruption

Two other candidates have qualified for the ballot according to the City Clerk: Sally Martinez and Patrick B. Small whose ballot designation is “Outdoor Pot Grower.”

I love Riverside!

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