BY ALICIA ROBINSON
STAFF WRITER
arobinson@pe.com

Published: 19 January 2012 08:06 PM

With a speech that noted his 32 years in public office and was book-ended by standing ovations, Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge laid out policy goals for his final months in office on Thursday.

In his 19th State of the City address, Loveridge said the coming months will be “a sprint to the finish line” in which he’ll push for local control of Ontario International Airport, launch a program to foster cooperation among the city’s 26 neighborhoods, help raise money for a planned Cesar Chavez monument, and host a summit on creating a “college-going culture” through the city’s faith-based organizations.

Loveridge described his goals to a sold-out lunch attended by more than 900 people at the Riverside Convention Center. The event was hosted by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce, which prefaced the speech by giving Loveridge its 2011 Hero award for his public service.

The mayor’s fifth and final term — he also served four terms on the City Council — will end later this year, either in six or ten months, depending on whether a runoff is required after the June election. Five candidates so far have said they will run for mayor.

The most emotional moments of Thursday’s speech were when Loveridge recalled the October 1998 shooting in which a disgruntled former city worker shot and wounded him, two council members and three responding police officers before being taken into custody.

The officers risked their safety to break down a door and confront the gunman, Loveridge said, adding, “This decision saved my life. I would not be here except for their courage and skill.”

He also read from a letter his wife, Marsha, sent to The Press-Enterprise about the incident, choking up at the point where she wrote of being told, “Ron’s been shot … but he’s OK.”

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