Montclair’s Ship Of State For Nearly Thirty Years Now Remains Steady As She Goes

Montclair’s reputation as one of the most politically stable cities in San Bernardino County over the last three decades remained intact with the outcome of Tuesday’s election.
While in the 1980s politics in Montclair had grown somewhat indecorous, with the differences between councilmen George Klotz and Walter Hackett on occasion declining to fisticuffs, and then-Mayor Larry Rhinehart engaging in some questionable interactions with some working girls on Holt Avenue just east of the Montclair City Limits in the midst of the following decade, Rhinehart’s successor, Paul Eaton, established a regime that lasted more than 23 years.
During Eaton’s tenure he was elected mayor and reelected four times. Throughout that time, councilmen Leonard Paulitz and John Dutrey and Councilwomen Elouise “Dolly” Lewman and Carolyn Raft and then Councilman Bill Ruh and Councilwoman Trish Martinez served with Eaton. The only changes during that time came when Lewman did not run in 1998, clearing the way for Ruh to take her place and Paulitz did not run in 2014, at which point Martinez filled that void. Thereafter, the three changes that came to the council were precipitated by the decline in health/death of two of its members.
In July 2018, Eaton resigned as his physical condition worsened in the weeks just prior to his death. The gap on the council was filled by his widow, Ginger, for the next five months. That November, Raft and Dutrey competed for the mayoral post along with Sousan Elias and Kelly Smith. Dutrey proved victorious. That left a gap on the council, as Dutrey had to resign the council post he had most recently been elected to in 2016. In February 2019, the council appointed Tenice Johnson to fill that slot.
Seven months later, Trish Martinez died. The council replaced her with her daughter, Corysa.
In 2020, Carolyn Raft, who had been on the council for 28 years, did not seek reelection. She was replaced by Ben Lopez in that year’s election. Thus, over the last 30 years, the Montclair City Council, which includes the mayor’s post, had ten members. None of those were voted out of office.
This year, Dutrey faced one challenger in his effort to remain as mayor, Oscar Miranda. As of yesterday at 4 p.m., Dutrey had polled 1,862 votes or 64.27 percent. Miranda had claimed 1,030 votes or 35.55 percent.
Vying against Martinez and Rue were Juliet Orozco and Xavier Mendez. Martinez captured 1,294 votes or 29.07 percent; Rue slightly outran Martinez, with 1,312 votes or 29.47 percent. Mendez received 958 votes or 21.52 percent. Orozco claimed 885 votes or 19.88 percent.

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