Other Than Losing Baca To The County, The Political Status Quo In Rialto Will Remain

The political status quo in Rialto will remain intact, as Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson and Councilmen Andy Carrizales and Rafael Trujillo have all scored convincing reelections in this year’s municipal contest.
Robertson, who served on the council for ten years before achieving election as mayor in 2012, was reelected to the mayor’s post for the second time. This also marks the second time she has bested former City Councilman Ed Palmer, who ran against her unsuccessfully in 2016. This year, Robertson held off Palmer and Lupe Camacho.
Robertson dodged controversy earlier this year when the council tasked the Los Angeles-based law firm of Manatt Phelps & Phillips to look into Robertson having voted to provide a nonprofit corporation headed by her daughter community development block grant funding entrusted by the federal government to the Rialto City Council for distribution over a period of at least seven years. That potential crisis resulted from Robertson intransigently insisting for more than five months that she had engaged in no wrongdoing whatsoever and that she was intent on voting late this spring to endow the Bethune Center-National Council of Negro Women, of which her daughter Milele Robertson has been president since 2016, with more Community Development Block Grant funding. This had taken place after the accounting firm of Teaman, Ramirez and Smith late last year alerted the city that the familial relationship existed between the mayor and the leadership of the Bethune Center. Teaman, Ramirez and Smith subsequently charted over $200,000 that the Bethune Center-National Council of Negro Women had received in Community Development Block Grants distributed by the Rialto City Council since 2012 and at least four years of rent-free quartering that organization, which offers what is described as job training services, was provided in in a city-owned building at 141 S. Riverside Avenue in Rialto. Ultimately, Robertson sidestepped deeper scandal by agreeing, at the last minute, to recuse herself from the vote endowing the National Council of Negro Women/Bethune Center with $40,417 to fund its young adults academic and pre-employment skills program.
Robertson’s mayoral reelection effort was further complicated over bad blood that was generated when her challenger Camacho in August apparently prevailed in obtaining the Democratic endorsement in this year’s mayoral race. Through a twist of parliamentary procedure and a creative use of Roberts Rules of Order and the San Bernardino County Central Committee’s bylaws that endorsement was withheld from Camacho. It was claimed that Camacho failed to qualify for the endorsement because the central committee’s policy is to deny the endorsement to a candidate prevailing on the majority vote for endorsement if that candidate is competing against a Democratic incumbent unless he or she obtains 60 percent or more of the votes cast. It was asserted at the August 27 endorsement meeting that Camacho had received less than 60 percent of the votes cast. Subsequently, however, it was demonstrated that those abstaining or not casting a vote were being counted as no votes, and that when the votes were accurately counted, Camacho had won the endorsement fair and square.
Previously, in 2012, Robertson had gotten the Democratic endorsement in her maiden mayoral race against Councilman Ed Scott, a Republican, and in 2016, she had again garnered the Democratic endorsement when she ran against the Republican Palmer.
It was alleged that Robertson had used improper influence to cheat Camacho out of the Democratic endorsement this year, such that the Democrats made no endorsement in the race at all. The matter was a serious breach of trust, many Democrats maintained, as it went counter to democratic principles. This was of consequence, they said, because Rialto is a majority Democratic city where of its 48,181 voters, 25,434 or 52.8 percent are Democrats, while registered Republicans in Rialto number 7,660 or 15.9 percent.
No harm, no foul, Robertson’s forces say, as Robertson cruised to an easy victory over both Camacho and Palmer.
Though the results are not official, incumbents Carrizales and Trujillo, both of whom were first elected in 2016, appeared to be easily outdistancing their competitors, Stacy Augustine, Andrew George Karol, Theresa “Terrie” Schneider and Michael Taylor.
As of 4 p.m. today, the 22,114 votes tallied by the registrar of voters office show Robertson has 10,894 votes or 49.26 percent to Camacho’s 6,007votes or 27.16 percent and Palmer’s 5,207 votes or 23.55 percent. Trujillo polled 10,360 votes or 30.29 percent and Carrizales had 8,425 votes or 24.63 percent. Augustine captured 14.58 percent of the vote, Taylor 13.59, Schneider 8.9 percent and Karol 7.98 percent.
With Robertson, Carrizales and Trujillo returning to serve for four more years, the only attrition from the council this year as a consequence of the November 3 election will come as a consequence of Councilman Joe Baca, Jr. being obliged to resign so that he can accede to the position of Fifth District county supervisor. On Tuesday, Baca defeated Fontana Councilman Jesse Armendarez in a run-off contest to succeed current Supervisor Josie Gonzales.
-Mark Gutglueck

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