Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/11/2012 01:59:31 PM PST

RIALTO – More than 100 years after the city recorded its only black resident – a woman – it elected its first black mayor, also a woman.

Councilwoman Deborah Robertson, in last Tuesday’s mayoral election, defeated Councilman Ed Scott, a longtime colleague on the dais.

But for Robertson, 62, the election was less about making history than it was about rallying the city around the idea of returning Rialto to “a jewel” of the Inland Empire.

She believes she’s the person to do just that.

“This community is a diverse community and I think they tend to vote according to…the person they feel some passion about,” Robertson said.

At her home near Pepper Avenue and Base Line, surrounded by African-American art and books on black history, Robertson relaxed with friends and family Friday in the aftermath of an election that saw some of the dirty campaigning that she is accustomed to.

In 2008, the city’s fire and police unions mailed fliers showing tattooed gangsters, in an effort to portray Rialto ready to explode with crime if voters elected Robertson over then-Mayor Grace Vargas.

This year, Robertson, who recently retired from Caltrans after 25 years, was the subject of a mailer campaign that showed her city health benefits, in an effort to portray her as a double-dipper.

Still, Robertson had a good laugh over the mailer.

“I really did thank them for putting this out,” she said, “because I didn’t have enough money to put out a flier (to) get my name out in the whole community.”

Robertson, who moved to the city in 1988, has a wealth of experience in public service.

A 12-year council member, Robertson from 1990 to 1992 was a Rialto airport commissioner and a budget oversight advisory member in 1991.

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