Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Created: 08/24/2012 04:28:09 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – The county Democratic party is leaving its longtime headquarters, the Carousel Mall, after a hotly contested vote this week.

The San Bernardino County Democratic Central Committee still owes $3,864 – a total it disputes – for rent and utilities at the largely abandoned mall, and members estimate that would have grown to more than $5,000 if they stayed in the office through the November election.

But Patrick Kahler, a member of the central committee who’s running for chairman, presented checks at the committee’s meeting Thursday that would have paid that debt down to just more than $1,000, from several groups that stipulated the money could only go toward keeping the headquarters open until Nov. 15.

“I had a plan (and) I presented it,” Kahler said. “They chose against it, so we move on and find another place.”

The party has not had a meeting in the mall since January because a loss of money from the city’s Economic Development Agency has it closing too early for a late meeting, several members said.

Besides, Democrats would be better served with several smaller offices spread around the largest county in the contiguous United States, rather than a difficult-to-use headquarters, said acting Chairman Chris Robles.

“I would like to see multiple offices, not one in a ghost town of a mall,” Robles said.

The move to accept donations and work to negotiate lower utility charges received support from a majority of those present, but less than the required two-thirds, Robles said.

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