Commissioner Torres Taking On Nickel In 5th Ward SB Council Race

Peter Torres, Councilman Henry Nickel’s appointee to the Public Safety and Human Relations Commission, is challenging Nickel in the upcoming March 3 election.
Nickel has been San Bernardino’s Ward 5 councilman since 2014, when he was elected in a special election to replace Chas Kelley. Nickel was reelected over Brian Davison in 2015, when the city yet held its elections in odd-numbered years. This year will be the first time the Fifth District has held its council election in an even-numbered year under the new city charter approved in 2016.
Torres, a real estate professional, said he is running because, “I’m a homeowner. I have lived here for 12 years and I’d like to get more involved in the community. I want to make sure everything is done well. I want to make sure everything looks good.”
Torres’ civic involvement includes his time on the Public Safety and Human Relations Commission, as well as a stint as a board member for the Norton Charter Academy.
The major issues facing the city, Torres said, are “homelessness, blight, public safety, potholes, infrastructure repair and maintenance. Homelessness is a high profile issue in certain areas of the city.”
Torres acknowledged that he has yet to cultivate an in-depth knowledge relating to many of the issues, challenges and problems facing the city.
“I’ve attended council meetings where these things are being discussed,” he said. “Some have come back several times for discussion. I’m not taking a position on some of these things, but my way of going about it would be to put these things on the table, discuss it and take the best action you can with the resources you have. I want what is best for the city and community as a whole, but I’m most interested in and know the most about the Fifth Ward.”
He was not pointedly critical of Nickel, whom he acknowledged has a mastery of many of the city’s issues, in particular relating to finances. As to the council as a whole, Torres said, “I think there’s room for improvement. I’m not a councilman, so I don’t know the budget, and exactly what they [the council] have to work with. I think you take on things according to what tools and means you have.”
Torres said, “I’ve been to Henry’s [neighborhood] meetings. I think he’s trying to do his best. Without the information that he and the other members of the council have, I can’t speculate as to what he should be doing different. I can tell you what means most to me. I think we have to improve the image of the city.”
In terms of the direction the city is taking generally, Torres said, “I cannot say I am satisfied. Again, I don’t know the current budget and how much is allocated for what. Like any other San Bernardino resident, I would like to see projects to improve the city. The council members have to be committed to improving their community. I want more transparency.”
Torres said, “San Bernardino has a great legacy, a very good history. That’s in the past. I feel we can do much better than we are at the present.”
Torres said, “Right now I’m a commissioner for public safety and human relations. We meet once a month and go over a few pressing things, mostly having to do with public safety and the police department. So, I’m up on those issues. I was also involved with the charter school board and I was the president with a local real estate association outside of this area in 2016. I had the opportunity to travel to Sacramento where we dealt with issues at that state level. I have a grasp of some of the issues and ideas that are shaping how our communities are changing, how California’s neighborhoods are evolving. I understand these things and how they affect housing and things like that. I’d like to bring my knowledge about that to bear on my own community.”
Torres said, “I think what it comes down to is there are not many things that are more important than your kids’ education and the quality of the community you live in and public safety.”
Fifty years old, Torres grew up in Whittier, where he attended La Sierra High School and later attended the College of Oceaneering in Los Angeles. He was employed previously as a diving inspector. He moved to Rancho Cucamonga in 2002 and San Bernardino in 2007, the same year he was married. He and his wife have three children. He obtained his real estate brokers license and worked for Century 21. He is now self-employed as a real estate broker and property manager.
“I’m big on real estate and housing,” he said. “I like to think I promote housing. Everyone should own a home. When someone owns a home, they take pride in it. They improve it. They improve the community around them. Having a home raises the lifestyle of your family. Everyone should take part in improving their community, as a group, as a person. Homeowners want to see their community flourish. It’s an attitude. If you have that attitude, you want to pay your fair share of taxes and provide public services to make it easier for everyone to participate, so everyone can try to improve the life they lead, so we can provide for our children. Every day is an opportunity to improve. I see poor people, with low incomes, living in Section 8 housing. Having that in your community brings in a lot of issues. Those families have to deal with that. We need to try to make it better for everyone.”
-Mark Gutglueck

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