RC Mayor Michael Makes Reelection Pitch

(September 23)  After 19 years as Rancho Cucamonga fire chief, six years as a city councilman and nearly four years as mayor, Dennis Michael is appealing to the city’s voters to reinstall him as mayor for four more years.
He referenced a host of accomplishments during his tenure as mayor that he said recommend him for another term wielding the gavel of the third largest city in San Bernardino County.
“We‘ve done some pretty incredible things in terms of creating safer neighborhoods,” he said. “The number one priority under my leadership will be to continue the innovative crime fighting measures which have created one of the safest cities with a population of over 100,000 in the region. We have done video surveillance work to target specific areas. We purchased bloodhounds for use where we had break-ins. The bloodhounds helped us in apprehending those type of criminals.”
He then referenced strides the city has made in fire safety during his watch. “We opened up a new fire station on Hellman Avenue off of Hillside,” he said. “The primary objective of that facility was to reduce the fire hazard in our urban/wildland interface area. Combating wildfires has always been a strong public safety imperative in Rancho Cucamonga. A testament to my public safety commitment is that I have been given the endorsement of the firefighters and deputy sheriff’s deputies.”
Michael moved on. “We have implemented some very innovative pension control reforms,” he said. “Employees have started to pay a portion of their share of their own pension contributions and we will keep ratcheting up the amount of their contributions for the next three years. Each year they will pay a little more toward their retirement. Under my leadership Rancho Cucamonga has attained what very few other cities in the region have attained. We no longer have a long term unfunded pension liability. We are one of only a few cities that can boast that.”
He said that “Another aspect to being an elected official at the local level is to make sure we have financial sustainability. Rancho Cucamonga has been very stable. Even during the economic downturn, we have been able to build our reserves and reduce costs. For the last three years, we did not use reserves to balance any of our budgets. When the state eliminated redevelopment agencies so the state could take more revenue from local government, we reduced our work force. Back in 2008, as opposed to 2014, we had twenty percent more employees. We now have twenty percent fewer workers than we did six years ago. By using innovative technologies and computer-based programs we are getting greater efficiency. That 20 percent reduction equates to about 110 employees that are no longer working in the city. At the same time we have increased citizen access and made more convenient applications for city services through an on-line process.”
Michael said that “We have done an outstanding job, in my view, in bringing new business to Rancho Cucamonga in the last couple of years, like Evolution Fresh, the manufacturer of Starbucks’ juices; the Inland Empire Health Plan, which has brought its corporate and treatment offices into Rancho Cucamonga; and Falkentire, which located its corporate office in Rancho Cucamonga on Haven Avenue. A number of hotels have opened here in the last couple of years. These have been a godsend for us in the city. This has enhanced the quality of life because of the economic development this represents. We’ve done some pretty unique things, from my perspective, ones that are critically important to make sure we are bringing in employers who have high employee counts so opportunities for jobs in our city are there. We are seeking commerce and warehouses that have Rancho Cucamonga as their point of sale. We have strived for economic development. Our economic development strategy has been updated from what it was eleven years ago when we had a redevelopment agency. We are continually looking at strengthening that process.”
Michael continued in touting the city. “The city has done an incredible job in winning some regional as well as national recognition, such as that given to our library by the National Institute for Museums and Libraries,” he said. “Our Healthy Rancho Cucamonga Concept was given a gold medal by First Lady Michelle Obama for its efforts to reduce childhood obesity.  We were given the inaugural award from the Inland Economic Partnership for turning red tape into a red carpet because of the changes we made to our development review process. I am proud to be part of a city that sets goals and visions where employees can be comfortable taking risks and accomplishing positive change. As a city council we try to make sure that our aims and goals are laid out for staff and then we let them take care of business on a day-today basis.”
Michael pointed out that he has recently been elevated to two leadership roles within the extra-governmental panels on which he serves. He was elected president of SANBAG – San Bernardino Associated Governments – the joint powers authority to which the county and all 24 incorporated cities in San Bernardino County belong, which acts as the county’s transportation agency. He was also made the second vice president of the California League of Cities. “I take this additional responsibility very seriously,” Michael said. “Being on these boards makes me a more well informed official and allows me to stay close to things that may negatively or positively impact cities throughout the state. These are issues relating to the form of government that is closest to the people.”
The major issues now facing the city, Michael said, consist of continuing economic development and the outward appearance of the city.
“We need to make sure we continue to create the opportunities to attract good quality high end businesses that employ large numbers of workers,” he said. “We have to keep our eyes and ears open  for new businesses to come into Rancho Cucamonga. We need to really focus on our landscape maintenance assessment districts. I hope the public will understand the importance of keeping our landscaping at a higher level. It is important that we use the limited resources we have to provide for the best emergency operations possible and have everything our police, fire department and animal services need. We cannot take our eye off the ball with regard to fiscal  sustainability for our city. Just coming out of the recession, we received a higher credit rating than we had ever received in Rancho Cucamonga. I am personally proud of that. We are not raiding our reserves like other cities. We have a general fund that is protected and provides the services the public deserves. We  have a line item for adding $600,000 to our rainy day reserve fund. I am pretty happy about all of that. We continue to have top notch parks and libraries and amenities the public has come to appreciate.”
He is the son of the late Lloyd Michael, a citrus grower in Rancho Cucamonga who was also the general manager of the Cucamonga County Water District, and served on the boards of the Alta Loma Elementary School District, the Cucamonga County Water District and the San Antonio Hospital Foundation.
A life-long resident of Rancho Cucamonga, Dennis Michael attended Chaffey College. He began as a firefighter with the Foothill Fire District, the processor to the Rancho Cucamonga Fire Department, in 1976. He promoted through the ranks to engineer, captain, battalion chief, and division chief.  He was appointed Fire Chief in 1984, and he held that position for nineteen years until his retirement in December 2003. With his wife, he has two children and five grandchildren.

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