Six SB County City Councils Now Adjusting To Having Two Or More Newly Installed Members

Substantial or significant changes have been actuated in recent weeks on six of San Bernardino County’s 22 city councils.
Within San Bernardino County at present, there are 24 municipalities, including 22 cities – Chino Hills, Chino, Montclair, Ontario, Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana Rialto, Colton, Grand Terrace, San Bernardino, Loma Linda, Highland, Redlands, Big Bear Lake, Hesperia, Victorville, Adelanto, Barstow, Yucaipa, Twentynine Palms and Needles. The county also boasts two incorporated towns, those being Apple Valley and Yucca Valley.
The political status quo remained the same or slightly changed in the 2020 election year, with either no or a single personnel shift on the decision-making panels that oversee 18 of those governmental entities, consisting of their respective city councils or town councils. But on four of those councils two members left or were voted out of office. On another, on which five members participate, a majority of three new members has taken office. In another, the county seat where the council is composed of a total of eight members, three new civic officials are in place.
In 21 of the county’s municipalities, the city or town councils are composed of five members, including either an elected or appointed mayor. In three cities – San Bernardino, Colton and Needles – the council comprises more than five members: eight in the case of San Bernardino and seven in Colton and Needles.
In Barstow, Paul Anthony Courtney has replaced Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre as mayor. Barbara Mae Rose was elected to represent the city’s District 3, filling the void on the council that existed beginning in December 2019, when Councilman Richard Harpole resigned to move to Texas. Marilyn Dyer Kruse in November defeated incumbent Councilwoman Carmen Hernandez in District 4.
In Chino, Mayor Eunice Ulloa handily turned back a challenge by Christopher Hutchinson, but Christopher Flores defeated incumbent Councilman Paul Rodriguez, turning him out of office as the city’s District 1 councilman. Karen Comstock was elected the city’s new District 4 councilwoman, replacing former Councilman Tom Haughey. That development, however, does not appear to presage any radical departure from the political norm, as Comstock, Chino’s former police chief, served in that capacity during Haughey’s incumbency on the council, and she did not seek the elected position until Haughey signaled his final decision to not run again earlier this year, indicating she would not have sought the position if Haughey had chosen to remain in office.
In San Bernardino, where the council is composed of a mayor elected at large by voters throughout the 59.65-square mile city and seven council members elected in seven geographically defined wards, 2021 is beginning with three different council members representing the city’s constituents than one year ago. Four of the council’s seven-member contingent were required to stand for reelection last year to remain in office, and all four competed. Juan Figueroa, representing the city’s Third Ward, was the only one who did so successfully, holding off a challenge by Luis Ojeda in the March 3 primary election. On March 3, Kimberly Calvin outdistanced Sixth Ward incumbent Bessine Richard in a narrow 1,446 votes or 50.31 percent-to-1,428 votes or 49.69 percent victory. The same day, incumbent Ward 5 Councilman Henry Nickel and incumbent Ward 7 Councilman Jim Mulvihill faced five and four challengers, respectively. Nickel was the top finisher in his contest, but did not garner the needed majority of votes to be elected outright, which put him into a November run-off against the second-place finisher, Ben Reynoso. Mulvihill finished in second place in the Ward 7 primary, and he found himself in a battle for political survival against Damon Alexander. Ultimately, in the November 3 races, the newcomers prevailed. Additionally, 2020 also saw the full implementation of the city charter change mandated by San Bernardino’s voters’ 2016 passage of Measure L, which did away with the city attorney and city clerk positions being elected offices. Accordingly, former City Attorney Gary Saenz and former City Clerk Gigi Hanna departed the city in March.
In Upland, former Mayor Debbie Stone was bounced from office by the voters in favor of incumbent City Councilman Bill Velto. Velto had held the last at-large elected position on the council, though he had not been elected but rather appointed to the post in 2019 after a vacancy on the council came about following the 2018 election. The position he held was transitioned into one representing the city’s First District with the just-concluded election cycle, and in November Shannan Maust was elected to replace him on the council. Also in November, the city held a special election to fill for the next two years the empty Third District council post which former Councilman Ricky Felix had vacated in May when he moved to Utah. Carlos Garcia won that four-candidate race.
In Victorville, incumbent Councilwoman Blanca Gomez was reelected in a race in which three council seats were in play and a total of 22 candidates competed. Councilwoman Gloria Garcia, who had served as Victorville’s appointed mayor for the last six years, also sought reelection. Jim Cox, a former Victorville city manager who ran for the council successfully in 2012 and then was reelected in 2016, chose not to seek reelection in 2020.
Garcia did not garner reelection. Nor did two other former Victorville councilmen, Eric Negrete, who held office from 2014 until 2018, and Ryan McEachron, who was on the council from 2008 until 2016. Rather, Elizabeth Becerra and Leslie Irving were the first and third place finishers in the race, respectively. Their elections have resulted in all five of the Victorville city council positions now being held by women.
In Yucaipa, incumbent Councilman Bobby Duncan emerged victorious in his effort to hold onto the post representing the city’s District 3. In Yucaipa’s District 4, however, Councilwoman/former Mayor Denise Hoyt, after sixteen years on the council, opted to not run. Justin Beaver was elected by his district peers to represent them, thus replacing Hoyt. In District 5, Dick Riddell, who had served in both council and mayoral capacities since 1995, was beaten in November by Jon Thorp.

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