Sandra Ibarra is seeking election to the San Bernardino City Council, she said, “because, as a homeowner, I am fully vested in seeing San Bernardino thrive. San Bernardino has a lot of potential, but it needs new and strong leadership that accepts being held accountable, has vision, and the heart to do what is right for the good of all who live and work here. I would be honored to serve San Bernardino as the city councilwoman for the 2nd Ward.”
Ibarra and Cecilia Miranda-Dolan are vying against each other to succeed Benito Barrios, who has been on the council since 2014, after he defeated Robert Jenkins in 2013. Miranda-Dolan and Ibarra outdistanced the incumbent Barrios in the June Primary, an indication that the voters in the 2nd Ward are seeking further change in a city that filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in 2012 and emerged from that status last year in significant measure by stiffing a large number of its creditors, and in 2016 dispensed with its 101 year-old city charter in favor of a redraft of how city government is being run. Under that new charter, San Bernardino will still have a seven-member city council, each representing a ward roughly equal to one seventh of the 62-square mile city geographically and a seventh of the city’s 215,000 residents, along with a mayor who is elected at-large by all of the city’s residents. In addition, the city will no longer have an elected city clerk and elected city attorney, and San Bernardino’s municipal elections are to be held in even numbered years as opposed to the odd numbered years as was the case previously.
Thus, 2018 represents the first year an election under the city’s new municipal governance blueprint is taking place. Ibarra has seized that opportunity wholeheartedly. She points out that “I have held several leadership roles since moving to San Bernardino which have been instrumental in gaining knowledge of how the city works: I am a Neighborhood Watch block captain in which I look out for the safety and well-being of the people who live in this neighborhood and encourage others to start their own. I reactivated and have served as president, secretary, and treasurer for a local neighborhood association, bringing families together to learn about the city, beautifying our streets, and allowing a space for the community to engage during Posadas, National Night Out, and in community meetings relating to street trees and those sort of neighborhood enhancements. I have served as city commissioner for the 2nd Ward on two bodies. The first is the Community Development Citizen Advisory Committee, in which we oversaw federal Housing and Urban Development money and how it was being used. The In-Fill Housing and Owner Occupied Home Rehabilitation programs are two current programs that arose from this commission with me being one of the local former commissioners insisting that we help the homeowners who don’t have the means to fix their homes instead of citing them for broken windows, landscape problems, etc. I was also an appointee to the Fine Arts Commission. We were responsible for bringing in the annual arts festival, and the final locating of the Rosa Parks statue in our city. Due to my ‘boots on the ground’ approach and love for reaching out to the community, our parks and recreation department invited me to help them canvass the city, especially the Perris Hill Park area and local groups, to help us build the new KaBOOM playground this past May 2018.”
Ibarra offered her opinion that “Voters should cast their votes as if they are ‘hiring’ the best candidate for the job. Warren Buffet once said, ‘…in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy.’ I believe I can live up to that standard. With regard to integrity, My opponent stated on her primary’s ballot designation that she was an elementary school teacher. It was confirmed that she erroneously misled the voters. We did our research. She does not hold a teaching credential with the State of California. You can verify this yourself at educator.ctc.ca.gov. She is an elementary school aide. ‘Classified rotation’ is her title listed on the school website: nsla.lewiscenter.org. She is a recreational aide, not a teacher. Our city doesn’t need dishonest ‘leaders.’ I used my actual job title because I do not want to misrepresent myself, especially in running for public office. In terms of intelligence, I earned my bachelor of arts degree from UCLA, an accredited 4-year college that is not easy to get into and even harder to graduate from, especially for first-generation college students like myself. As far as energy goes, I was already involved with improving the quality of life for the people who live in this city before I considered running for office. My opponent started doing neighborhood cleanups right after she submitted her candidacy document. She said she didn’t do cleanups in the more than 14 years she’s lived here because she was raising her children, yet she currently has three minors, so what makes this time around the exception? I’m the proven leader this city needs. I did not wait until deciding to run for office to do community cleanups. Throughout the cleanups I have done, many parents have brought their children along with them. To me, this is an excellent way to serve as role models to the youth that follow behind us.”
Ibarra said, “I genuinely care about community engagement. I am an all-inclusive leader, translating at community meetings, responding to everyone’s concerns, and encouraging everyone to participate in local politics and get involved in their respective neighborhoods. My opponent does not respond to English language questions from voters when they message her on social media and this concerns me as a community leader who has experienced voter apathy firsthand. It arose from years of elected officials not responding to their constituents. Let’s not go down the same path. When people cast their vote in November, they should stop and think who is best qualified to represent Ward 2. We need someone with integrity, intelligence, and energy. I am focused, determined, and a proven leader. It’s time to bring trust back in local politics with people who genuinely care about this city.”
The major issues facing the city, Ibarra said, are “poor infrastructure and lack of public services. We have potholes, untrimmed trees and non-working or no street lights. We are not holding absentee landlords or slumlords accountable with our Crime Free Multi-Housing program, which was adopted in 2011. Our Neighborhood Watch group sent letters to our elected and city leaders about the criminal activity lurking in our area and in these apartments, only to be disregarded until a fatal shooting occurred in February 2018. We need to talk to our neighboring cities and seek solutions to the ‘undesirables’ being dropped off into our city from their cities, resulting in crime, poverty, and homelessness. If these cities don’t want to deal with them, it is time for San Bernardino to ask for monetary assistance so that we can provide the homeless on our streets with the services they need instead of depleting the money our city collects from local businesses and property owners, resulting in them receiving poor public services.”
Continuing, Ibarra said, “We need to prioritize how the budget is being allocated. We should enforce the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program and collaborate with local groups and neighboring cities to tackle the complex issue of homelessness. We need to collaborate with all the non-profit groups in our city. We have many who want to help and if they have a 501(c)3, it would be great if they apply and get grants to help offset the depletion of city resources. The reason I say non-profits should apply for grants is because our city still has a lot of financial instability and it would be best if the grants are being administered by the non-profits themselves, with the city providing support. We need to make sure that money will go specifically towards the people who need the help. We have groups who do not have a 501(c)3 status but voluntarily assist without asking the city for funding. The school district encourages its students to volunteer in order to graduate. We have local business owners who also want to see this city thrive and are willing to assist. We need to collaborate with all sorts of groups so that we can tackle the issues we are facing, each focusing in on their strengths. Public services should be provided to our citizens instead of paying for consultants and out-of-town developers who over-promise and under-deliver. If elected as a public servant, I would like to make sure that the taxes our citizens pay are being used solely to maintain an adequate level of service that every citizen deserves. As a former commissioner, I was able to see how the Housing and Urban Development money our city was getting was being mismanaged. This was money that could have been used to revitalize our city. Instead, our elected officials went against commissioner recommendations and gave money to whomever they wanted, with some applicants using most of the money they requested to pay for CEO salaries instead of using it towards the population they claimed to serve. Our city commissioners are integral in overseeing the spending of city funds. Let’s listen to the community, the commissioners, and to those who want to help us get back on track. I will trust in my appointed commissioners’ recommendations, the citizens who live here, and the businesses willing to collaborate with us all when voting at the dais, when elected.”
She is familiar with the processes of governance and the public sector, Ibarra said. “I was in student council during my community college years and have served as a city commissioner for San Bernardino twice. There is no better feeling than being a public servant, volunteering your spare time to make a positive change in other peoples’ lives.”
Ibarra, who was born and raised in Santa Ana, has lived in San Bernardino for almost five years. “I chose to buy my first home here because I saw a beautiful city, centrally located to main attractions, the mountains, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Riverside,” Ibarra said. “It is the county’s seat, and an original Route 66 stop. It holds a rich history. We need to turn things around, even if it means turning away big money.”
Ibarra holds a bachelor of arts degree in Chicano studies from UCLA and is employed at a local non-profit: Neighborhood Housing Services of the Inland Empire.
She said, “I want the best for the city and it will be up to our voters to decide which one of the two candidates wins this November. I have been trying to be a voice for the people who live in this city and I would be honored to serve the people of San Bernardino. I have vision, a plan, and a platform to make our city the All-American City it once was.”