Mulvihill & Richard Carry The Day In SB Run-Off

The 2013 San Bernardino Political Revolution lurched through its final cycle this week, as the prime mover of that insurrection failed in his own electoral bid.
The bottom line in Tuesday’s run-off balloting was that incumbent Jim Mulvihill was chosen by voters to serve four more years as the city’s Seventh Ward councilman and Bessine Littlefield Richard will succeed councilman Rikke Van Johnson in the Sixth Ward.
When Mulvihill and Littlefield Richard are sworn in, five-eighths of the mayoral and council team in place three years ago in early 2013 will have been changed out.
A degree of irony attended the race between Mulvihill and his challenger, Scott Beard, as Beard was largely responsible for putting Mulvihill in office in the first place. Indeed, it was Beard who is in large measure responsible for the political landscape in San Bernardino being what it is today. But like Moses who led his people to the Promised Land but never made it there himself, Beard contributed with other unforeseen factors in changing several faces of power in the county seat but was denied the political office he sought.
After years of financial challenges, San Bernardino in 2012 filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. This alone cast City Hall and its officials in a poor light, which the following year a group of activists, led by Beard, sought to exploit.
Technically a San Bernardino resident with a real estate brokerage company based in Rialto with considerable holdings there, Beard was a principal in San Bernardino Residents for Responsible Government.
San Bernardino Residents for Responsible Government targeted then-mayor Patrick Morris, then-city attorney James F. Penman, First Ward Councilwoman Virginia Marquez, then-Second Ward councilman Robert Jenkins, Third Ward Councilman John Valdivia, Fourth Ward Councilman Fred Shorett, then-Fifth Ward councilman Chas A. Kelley, Sixth Ward Councilman Rikke Van Johnson, and then-Seventh Ward councilwoman Wendy McCammack for recall. The comprehensive effort to recall nine elected officials is believed to be the largest municipal recall effort in state history.
Penultimately, Beard and his confederates gathered enough signatures to qualify recall elections against Penman, McCammack and Valdivia. Ultimately, Valdivia staved off the effort to take him out of office when 705 of the Third Ward’s voters opposed his recall against the 426 who supported it. But Penman was recalled by a citywide vote of 7,730 to 5,013 and McCammack was cashiered by a ratio of 1,460 votes to 1,033. The same year, criminal charges were filed against Kelley and Jenkins, resulting in Kelley resigning and Jenkins being defeated in that year’s election by Benito Barrios. Kelley was replaced by Henry Nickel. Morris did not seek reelection in the 2013 election. He was succeeded by Carey Davis, after Davis in 2014 bested McCammack in the run off for the mayor’s post after she had gotten a plurality but not a majority of the votes for mayor on the same election day she was recalled as Seventh Ward councilwoman.
Also that day, November 5, 2013, Mulvihill, a professor at Cal State San Bernardino, outdistanced four other alternate candidates – Nick Gonzales, Paul Sanborn, Michael Thomas and Joshua Williamson – to replace McCammack.
For the last two years, the only remaining vestiges of the pre-bankruptcy council were Shorrett, Marquez, Johnson and Valdivia.
Next month, Johnson is to be replaced with Richard. Richard’s ascendency in the Sixth Ward, located on the city’s west side, represents a further inroad at City Hall by the city’s public employees. Richard is herself a public employee, She is a supervisor with the San Bernardino County Workforce Development Department. She garnered substantial public employee support, including that of the police and fire unions. Despite her declaration that she did not consider herself beholden to those who endorsed her in her run against Roxanne Williams, who is also a public employee, Richard will be called upon by her supporters to resist the city’s ongoing efforts to reduce operating costs by slashing staff salaries and benefits. In the case of the fire department and its employees, who overwhelmingly endorsed Richard, her election comes too late. The night before her election, the city council made a final settlement of claims filed against the city by the fire employees’ union pertaining to salary and benefit reductions. That settlement came as the city itself is moving ahead with dissolving its 137-year old municipal fire department and entrusting fire service in the 59-square mile, 213,000 population city to the San Bernardiuno County Fire Department.
Richard’s victory over Williams, a former teacher who now works out of the San Bernardino City Unified School District’s administrative office and is also a city parks commissioner, was a convincing one in which Richard polled 648 votes to Williams’ 353.
Beard, the scion of a wealthy family highly invested in real estate within the Central Valley, made a spirited run to unseat Mulvihill, who he believed had hijacked the recall effort he had bankrolled two-and-half years ago.
Beard, who is now president of Gerald W. Beard Realty Inc., indicated he did not believe Mulvihill embodied the spirit of reform that informed the recall movement that culminated in McCammack’s ouster. Once the campaign was under way, he attacked Mulvihill for supporting a $143 per year parcel tax as part of the fire service outsourcing plan and he was critical of the city’s use of receivorships to seize dilapidated properties from impoverished homeowners to effect urban renewal, which Mulvihill supported.
Beard, however, has a checkered past. In the 1990s, he was implicated though never indicted, in an elaborate kickback scheme relating to the county’s leasing, for use by its behavioral health division, of a K-Mart building in Rialto in which Gerald W. Beard Realty had an interest. Indicted in that scandal were former county supervisor Jerry Eaves, who eventually agreed to resign from office in lieu of going to prison, and former county administrative officer James Hlawek. Hlawek acknowledged in statements he made to the FBI that in a meeting with Beard and Eaves he was given a briefcase containing $300,000 in cash in return for facilitating the lease of the building.
While memory of that nearly two-decade old matter, in which Beard narrowly avoided being charged criminally, had faded with many, Mulvihill did make cryptic reference to it during the campaign.
In the end, Mulvihill prevailed, though by a relatively narrow margin of 803 votes — 53.57 percent — to Beard’s 696.

Leave a Reply