San Bernardino Seal

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 09/26/13, 6:17 PM PDT | Updated: 5 hrs ago

SAN BERNARDINO >> All 11 people running for mayor, including one who was dropped from the ballot but is running as a write-in candidate, participated Wednesday night in a forum to further introduce themselves in what all said was a vital election.

Candidates had 90 seconds per question, then 60 seconds, to answer questions on their approach to public safety, revitalizing downtown and the city charter, among other topics. They also participated in a “lightning round” of yes-or-no answers and chose a supporter to make their case in a brief speech.

The 2 1/2-hour forum and the hourlong meet-and-greet that came before were intended as a nonpartisan presentation of candidates’ views, said Sharon Gaitan-Blechinger, a founder of the group SBC Town Hall, which formed last year and put on the event.

Candidates agreed that it was important to prioritize both public safety and fiscal discipline. Some said compensation for police and firefighters would likely have to be reduced, but most said the key was to bring new business to the city.

Ideas differed on how to do that.

More of those working downtown are county employees than anything else, and shops are needed to keep them here after closing time, said contractor Rick Avila.

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