By Brian Whitehead | bwhitehead@scng.com | The Sun
Published: May 21, 2021 at 11:24 a.m. | Updated: May 21, 2021 at 11:26 a.m.

Councilman Fred Shorett wants voters to decide if they want to eliminate the city’s top elected post

San Bernardino Mayor John Valdivia this week accused colleague Fred Shorett of having “complete racial bias towards leadership in this community” after the longtime councilman suggested voters decide whether to eliminate the city’s top elected post in 2022.

Valdivia, elected mayor three years ago, opposed the move at the City Council meeting Wednesday, May 19.

“I’m speaking to about 70% of this community that has a Latino background,” Valdivia said. “Councilman Shorett has made some inflammatory comments regarding the Spanish heritage and the Latino community and this is emblematic of Councilman Shorett’s complete racial bias towards leadership in this community.

“This is a sad indictment,” Valdivia added. “Councilman, I think you have your wires crossed here.”

Shorett last month said he could not endorse providing Spanish-language interpretation services at council meetings because “we need to speak English.”

On Wednesday, Shorett rejected the suggestion that his position on translation services or the role of the mayor had anything to do with race.

“I think you, mayor, are leveling some charges that are way out of line,” Shorett responded. “This has nothing to do with the Hispanic community or you personally. It has to do with good governance and an effective method of managing a government. You fill a position that is unnecessary at this time.”

Valdivia, the first elected official to publicly address Shorett’s earlier comments about translation services, disputed the councilman’s reasoning for putting the need for a mayor to a vote.

“Councilman Shorett, you and I have had major disagreements over the years,” Valdivia said. “I respect you a lot, sir. This is the height and peak of, I don’t know where this is stemming from. We’ve had a historical charter passage in November of 2016, sir. … I would say most people in this community want a mayor irrespective of who fills the chair.

“There is an opportunity to lead the city as a mayor,” he added.

The council on Wednesday directed staffers to return at a later date with draft language for a ballot measure asking voters next summer if they want to eliminate the mayor’s position at the end of Valdivia’s term in December 2022.

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