By Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/05/2012 08:12:23 PM PST

SAN BERNARDINO – Newly elected Councilman John Valdivia was just one of seven officials sworn in at a pomp-filled ceremony Monday, but much of the speculation leading up to the meeting was on how Valdivia would shift the power from one political bloc to another.

The first thing Valdivia did was try to knock down that talk.

“The city wants leaders to focus on our economy and improving city services, not on politics,” he said in his opening remarks as the 3rd Ward councilman.

Valdivia, a pharmaceutical salesman, was the only non-incumbent City Council member elected in November, potentially reversing what had often been a four-three split on a council that most often voted along with Mayor Pat Morris and against the suggestions of City Attorney James F. Penman.

But Valdivia said the only group he would consistently vote with is the 3rd Ward.

“I think it’s an unfair characterization, and it was unfair when the public perceived it about the mayor and the former majority,” he said. “I stand wholeheartedly as an independent vote.”

Penman acknowledged that there have been long-standing conflicts among elected leaders, but he pledged to try to end them.

“We can go the next two years and fight each other – we’re all really good at that,” he said, asking the public not to accept political sniping. “You should hold us responsible and and hold us accountable. You need to say, `You guys have got to work together.”‘

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