In SB 3rd Ward Race, Ojeda Abjures Council Venality & Loyalty To Special Interests

In this year’s race for Third Ward councilman in San Bernardino, Luis Ojeda is challenging the incumbent, Juan Figueroa.
Ojeda said he is running for office out of “frustration,” explaining, “I am very involved in the community doing community service with my own volunteers, my own equipment, my own money. I have come to realize through going to the city council meetings very often that with the people we now have in office making the decision for the city’s residents, we are never going to move forward. What I have come to see is that none of those on the dais at this moment has any understanding of how finances work. They need to realize we are in serious difficulty. Somehow, they haven’t noticed yet that money needs to be earned and it doesn’t grow on trees and it can’t be found lying in the street. We have to bring in money and be mindful about how we spend the taxpayers’ money. I feel this council lacks that.”
Ojeda, who moved to San Bernardino from Rancho Cucamonga four years ago, almost immediately engaged himself where he could in civic improvement efforts, spearheading neighborhood cleanup projects on week-ends and attending city council meetings, at which he would bird dog the council to look into and take action on items or issues he had come across which he believed deserved the attention of the council and city officials or staff members who had the authority and means to do something about the problems and challenges he saw. This resulted in some movement on the city’s part, but Ojeda said that the city’s reaction has been insufficient.
“I was involved in these neighborhood cleanup projects, week after week,” he said. “I was volunteering my time and working with others who would volunteer. I used my own equipment and my own money. I tried to push the city and the council to do better. If they didn’t react, I came back and would talk about them some more. Some of the citizens were welcoming me, but not the council. I soon realized that things wouldn’t change. That is why, frankly, I want to get in there. The way the city operates is through a culture of ineptitude, cronyism and nepotism that doesn’t lend itself to the elected officials thinking about the residents. The main things the council concerns itself about are the needs of special interests. In this city, special interests come before the residents. The people are frustrated and I am frustrated along with them over how the council won’t do what is right for the residents. The council has been compromised or corrupted or however you want to put it by this misplaced loyalty to special interests. I am all about business and promoting development and progress, but we need to put the people first.”
Ojeda said there has been a major “corruption” of the city government’s function.
He believes he has the formula to map the city’s way out of the hole it is in, Ojeda said. “We first have to hold people accountable,” he said. “The first thing is to do an audit of all of the departments, especially the police department. Why are we the most dangerous city in California and number three in the nation? When you ask that question, you get simplistic answers. They say we don’t have enough money and that we don’t have enough people. When you are spending approximately 80 percent of your budget on the police department and you are still experiencing the level of crime we are having, that tells us we are doing something wrong. That the police chief is against an audit is very concerning. I think we have valuable people who work for the city, but their opportunity to try out the solutions that will work are limited because of the people above them, the leaders and the culture of failure, this culture of corruption. We have to do an audit to find out what we are spending all that money on, to find out what we are doing and who is making that money, and whether they are earning the money we are paying them.”
Ojeda said, “We need to to engage the community. I have been walking my ward the last few weeks and talking to the residents. I tell you, they have an apathy toward our local issues. They feel it doesn’t matter, nobody listens to them, that there is no accountability. They believe the solution is to just move out of the city.  Many have already moved out of the city. We need to engage our community and tell them it is not hopeless. We can turn this city around. We need to engage them and get them to participate and show them them we can clean up blight, we can reduce the presence of things that lead to crime. Some people talk about what needs to be done but don’t get involved. I have been trying to lead by example.”
There needs to be greater openness and accessibility at City Hall and less restriction on information, Ojeda said.
“I can see that nobody [other than top city officials] know what the finances of the city are,” Ojeda said. “The city council deals with that and those issues in closed session, and during the open sessions, we don’t have access to crucial information, important information. For me, that is why I would like to have an audit, so we can see and hear as far as our finances go, what our income is, what our liabilities are. We need to concentrate on how to create revenue. I have been talking to people who deal with our economic development and planning department and they tell me it takes too long for people to get permits to get their businesses going. They say that frustration is why they would rather go and have their businesses in Rialto and Fontana, Loma Linda or Redlands. The planning department is one of the key departments we have to pay attention to, so that people can get their projects approved fast. That will go a long way toward creating a healthy business environment. People are looking to develop businesses and locate them in our city. We should not be keeping that from happening. We need to get our act together. We should not just be receptive to the people who want to establish businesses here but be proactive in seeking out those who are thinking of starting a business, to let them know San Bernardino is an option for them, and that if they come here we will get their plans approved fast. That is how we can bring this city’s economic situation around.”
Ojeda is running in the city’s Third Ward against the incumbent, Juan Figueroa, who was elected in a special election last year. Ojeda essentially bypassed the opportunity offered to him to engage in a broadside attack on Figueroa, who has now been in office eight months, saying tersely, “The only thing I would say to him is to ask, ‘Why is the council you are a member of spending money that we don’t have? You and the council have given city employees salary increases when we don’t have the money. Why did you vote against doing an audit of the police department?’ I do not want to say he is doing a bad job, but there is always room for improvement.”
Ojeda said that with regard to himself, “I have been telling the voters when they ask  ‘What are you going to do if we elect you?’ that I don’t have a magic wand that will fix everything. What I can promise is that I will work for them, the same way I have worked for the city as a volunteer. I can promise them a lot of hard work and a lot of action.”
Ojeda attended high school in Mexico City and studied accounting, broadcasting, communications and computer science at Chaffey College. He has operated businesses within the logistics industry, the most recent one being Khan D’Kulia, a trucking company which also entails a truck driving training center.
Divorced, Ojeda said, “from the most beautiful woman in the world,” he has five daughters.

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