10:00 PM PST on Monday, February 21, 2011

By ALICIA ROBINSON
The Press-Enterprise

With the filing period for candidates in Riverside’s June 7 city council elections officially open, Ward 1 voters could see a partial replay of 2007.

That year, four candidates vied for the seat that represents downtown, and two of them were then-Councilman Dom Betro and challenger Mike Gardner, who ended up winning the seat by seven votes in a November runoff.

This time Gardner is the incumbent, and Betro, who heads the nonprofit Family Service Association, is among three potential challengers; the others are Los Angeles County transportation administrator Marisa Valdez Yeager and teacher Dvonne Pitruzzello.

As of last week, Gardner, Betro and Yeager had taken out nomination papers to appear on the ballot. In other wards, the incumbents — Ward 3 Councilman William “Rusty” Bailey, Ward 5 Councilman Chris Mac Arthur and Ward 7 Councilman Steve Adams — took out papers to seek re-election.

Pitruzzello and Ward 7 challenger John Brandriff, a UPS driver, have begun fundraising. The candidate filing period closes March 11.

On at least one issue, Gardner and Betro appear diametrically opposed. Gardner said he believes serving effectively on the council requires a full-time commitment, and he noted that the three possible challengers have other jobs, while he does not.

Though a council post has traditionally been considered part-time, “To do it well you have to put in 10 or more hours a day,” Gardner said.

Betro takes the opposite position, saying council members can live without the legislative aides, city cars and other benefits they are now getting.

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