12 Years After Her Scandal-Plagued Colton Reign Ended, Chastain Makes Return

It took a dozen years, but Kelly Chastain, who was ignominiously consigned to political limbo in 2010, has managed at last a political comeback.
Remarkably, Chastain achieved that feat as the seven-member city council on which she served from 1996 to 2010 made a contraction to just five members.
In 1996, Chastain defeated embattled Third District Councilman Abe Beltran in the same election in which Mayor George Fulp was recalled from office after he served just two years.
Chastain immediately formed a firm and fast alliance with District 5 Councilwoman Deirdre Bennett, one which lasted a decade during which time Bennett made the transition to Colton Mayor. That amiable relationship came to an abrupt end in 2006, however, when in that November’s election, Chastain eked out nine-vote victory over Bennett in the mayoral contest, 3,235 votes or 49.93 percent to 3,226 votes or 49.79 percent, wherein the margin of victory was a by-product of the 18 votes that were cast during the contest for write-in candidates.Chastain continued with many of the missteps that had been perpetuated under Bennett’s rule, which included Colton’s forced annexations of property lying at the periphery of the city wherein a majority or even all of the residents or landowners therein or thereon were in opposition to what was occurring. Chastain also simply accepted Bennet’s previous hiring of then-Fontana Mayor Mark Nuami, whose professional training was that of an electrical engineer, as Colton’s assistant city manager. While Nuami was working in the capacity of assistant city manager and interacting with Chastain as a co-equal in their capacities as representatives of their respective cities on three separate regional joint powers authorities, he became known as Chastain’s political attack dog, verbally assailing those who questioned city policies or Colton City Council decisions in which Chastain voted in the majority. Nuami also came under scrutiny for serving as a conduit of political donations to Chastain, in particular ones originating with developers or real estate interest thats were active in Fontana.
By 2009, the 2007 economic downturn then known as “The Great Recession” had created severe financial hardship for local cities, ultimately resulting in Nuami participating in the laying off of 60 Colton employees, including himself. In doing so, Nuami conferred upon himself, with Chastain’s concurrence, a “golden parachute,” i.e., a hefty severance package.
In the 2010 election, a multitude of scandals and issues had taken their toll upon Chastain’s reputation, and she was swept from office in that year’s election cycle in which former Colton Community Development Director Zamora was elected to replace her as mayor and Frank Gonzales, who had once been the head of a political dynasty in the Hub City, was returned to public office, in this case as District 2 councilman.
In 2016, Chastain sought to get back into the political game, running again in District 3 against the-then incumbent, Frank Navarro, who handily beat her, 1,127 votes or 61.69 percent to 700 votes or 38.31 percent.
This year, the City of Colton is putting into effect the reduction of the city council from a mayor elected at large along with six council positions representing six separate districts to a mayor elected at large with four council positions representing as many districts. The redrawn council map put Chastain into the new District 2, which is represented by Kenneth Koperski, who is the current District 3 incumbent.
According to the election results released as of 4 p.m. today, November 11, Chastain had 594 votes or 60.61 percent and Koperski had 384 votes or 39.18 percent.
In the other Colton races held this year, Mayor Frank Navarro, with 3,033 votes or 70.08 percent, handily prevailed over Mark Garcia, who has run repeatedly for elective office in Colton since the 1990s. Garcia collected 1,282 or 29.62 percent. There were 13 write-in votes in that contest.
In District 1, incumbent Councilman David Toro faced no opposition.
In District 3, incumbent District 4 Councilman Luis González squared off against District 6 Councilman Isaac Suchil.
In an effort to counteract González’s constant promotion of his name and candidacy through his journalistic pursuits which consist of articles lauding various Colton personages in a column published in both the Colton Courier and Colton City News, Suchil’s supporters made repeated charges that González is a racist. The repetition of that charge in multiple venues failed to resonate with District 3’s voters, however, and it appears the tactic boomeranged on Suchil.
As of 4 p.m. today, according to the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters, Suchil had notched 392 votes or 37.91 percent to González’s 642 votes or 62.09 percent.
In District 4, John Echeverria, who is at present the District 5 incumbent, easily outdistanced his competition with 741 votes, good for 59.28 percent, to 256 votes or 20.48 percent for Gem Montes and 253 votes or 20.24 percent for Robert Wilson.

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