By Chas Kelley
Posted: 03/28/2012 05:25:49 PM PDT

There is a palpable new spirit of optimism in the city of San Bernardino.

Despite recent publicity about several city administrative officials leaving, the San Bernardino City Council and mayor are working more harmoniously than we have for many years.

The old political fault lines have shifted with council members looking to the future rather than dwelling on the past. For the first time in history, the San Bernardino City Council elected our mayor pro tem with a unanimous vote. City leaders also moved unanimously to develop an economic strategic plan to build the strong job creation base our city needs to thrive.

San Bernardino’s mayor and city attorney have been meeting frequently in recent weeks and seem to be establishing a more positive working relationship. The City Council responded by voting to provide needed funding for the City Attorney’s Office, but we also demonstrated our independence by saying no to his request for additional staff.

The election of a new generation of leaders like Councilmen Robert Jenkins and John Valdivia affords San Bernardino a golden opportunity to move away from politics as usual and toward the path to prosperity.

We only need to look at the city of Fontana to observe a proven road map that San Bernardino can follow to future success.

Two decades ago, Fontana faced a similar predicament that San Bernardino does today. At that time, Fontana was a declining city with high crime and a diminished revenue base due to cutbacks in the steel industry.

Then a new group of young, energetic leaders – including Mark Nuaimi and Janice Rutherford – won election to the Fontana City Council. By focusing on economic development and building on a successful racing speedway, these leaders transformed Fontana into the dynamic community it is today.

I believe that the elections of 2011 will serve as the same kind of community turning point for San Bernardino that the election of Mark Nuaimi and Janice Rutherford was for Fontana.

The upcoming vacancy in our city manager’s office provides the chance for a fresh start by developing a staff leadership team that reflects the new City Council’s focus on job creation and economic development.

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