Published: 05 November 2011 08:40 PM

The San Bernardino City Council could undergo radical change in Tuesday’s election, both in the makeup of the seven-member panel and which city leader the majority supports.

Four council members are considered aligned with Mayor Pat Morris: Virginia Marquez, Tobin Brinker, Fred Shorett and Rikke Van Johnson. The three associated with Morris’ political foe, City Attorney Jim Penman, are Robert Jenkins, Chas Kelley and Wendy McCammack.

Brinker, Kelley, McCammack and Johnson are on the ballot, with Johnson unopposed. A shift in the majority could affect the future of the city and some City Hall department heads, especially if Penman wins re-election.


Challenger John Valdivia, who finished third in 2009 in an election for the Ward 4 seat, now tries for Ward 3.

He said he plans to set up a jobs fair and will advocate for job-generating revitalization of the city.

“People are hurting,” said Valdivia, a pharmaceuticals representative.

He said the city needs to focus on fixing street lights and streets and not political infighting. “I’m on the side of residents,” he said.

Tobin Brinker, 43, is seeking his second full term. He has unsuccessfully asked the council to request a study of potential cost savings from ending the city’s contribution to employee retirement plans. That money could be used to hire police officers and firefighters and fix street lights and roads, he said.

“My opponent is out there saying he is going to fix all those things and he never says where the money will come from,” Brinker said.

Brinker said the long-term issue in the city is jobs. “We need to be more aggressive in recruiting businesses,” he said.


Larry Lee, 60, is the senior pastor of The Gathering Place in the city’s north end. He said friction among the council and department heads is preventing the city from moving forward.

“I feel like I need to bring stability and respect and honor back to the city,” he said. “The city has a horrible reputation.”

Lee said that as a result, some businesses consider the city unstable and won’t set up shop there.

The other key issues in his ward and citywide are jobs and public safety, the latter including street lights, he said.

Kelley, 42, is running for a third term. He said he wants to restore police officer positions and work with the council to create an economic strategic plan.

Currently, he said, “The No. 1 issue is the street lights that are out due to copper wire theft, and that plays into another issue that is extremely important, and that is the public safety issues. Without them being illuminated, we don’t have safe neighborhoods. Most crime occurs under the cover of darkness.”

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