Push On To Block Duncan From Second Yucaipa Mayoral Appointment

The Yucaipa City Council is due, on December 11, to vote with regard to the city’s mayoral rotation.
At that point, the council will select from among its members someone to serve in the capacity of mayor for the next year. Currently, Justin Beaver is mayor. Given the tradition of rotating to a council member deemed by the whole council to have sufficient experience to wield the gavel, there have been suggestions that Councilman Bobby Duncan, who is the longest serving member of the council, having been first elected in 2012, or Jon Thorp, who has been on the council since 2020, will be designated as mayor.
The other two members of the council are Matt Garner and Chris Venable, who were elected in 2022.
There is speculation that the council will hold off on appointing Thorp as mayor this year, given that he has accumulated only three years of experience on the council at this point. Last year, Beaver, who was first elected in 2020, was entrusted with the mayoral post. That proved inauspicious, however, as action taken by the council under his watch, specifically the firing of City Attorney David Snow and the forced retirement of City Manager Ray Casey, triggered the first recall effort in Yucaipa history, one that targeted Beaver, Duncan and Garner. They were able to duck being removed from office largely based on the creativity of the city manager they put into Casey’s place, Chris Mann, who used a substantial amount of city money to hire the Los Angeles-based Sutton Law Firm, which put together a legal challenge of the recall proponents’ stated rationale for the recalls. Mann was then able to convince the city clerk he had hired, Ana Sauseda, to serve as the plaintiff in the suit. The recall proponents found themselves too distracted with defending themselves against the lawsuit and threats from Sauseda and city spokesman Joe Pradetto that if they did not back off they would individually and collectively be prosecuted and face being tarred with misdemeanor convictions to pursue getting sufficient voter signatures to force the recall election. The feeling now is that the council may want to avoid bestowing the mayoral honorific on yet another council member with slim political experience.
The difficulty is that Duncan has been a magnet of controversy, both as a city councilman and mayor. Duncan was one of the three council members who pressured Casey into resigning. When he was mayor in 2019, he was quoted as making a blanket denunciation of Muslims. “I don’t know about y’all, but I am 100% anti-Islam,” Duncan posted on his Facebook page. He subsequently referred to Islam as “mankind’s most violence supremacist culture.”
In June 2020, Duncan again found himself at the center of unwanted attention when he was caught on video with several other men openly carrying guns in the Yucaipa’s business district as a means of discouraging protest there that was manifesting throughout the country in the aftermath of the infamous George Floyd killing at the hands of the police in Minneapolis the previous month.
A host of Yucaipa residents are now preparing to lobby the council to refrain from nominating Duncan as mayor.
Fliers circulating around town state that Duncan “doesn’t have the integrity to represent the City of Yucaipa as mayor and is unsuitable as a council member. We can’t let him become mayor again. Allow Justin Beaver to serve another term with Jon Thorp as mayor pro tem.”
The flier further inveighs against Duncan by enumerating “what’s wrong” with him using a series of bullet points. Those are:
“● He voted to remove City Manager Ray Casey, then hired a political operative
without the city conducting a transparent search for Casey’s replacement.
● He votes to push dense development, thus changing the character of Yucaipa.
● He lacks good judgment in the way he conducts himself as mayor pro tem
during city council meetings.
● He insulted Yucaipa citizens by infamously telling Yucaipa residents that he
won’t listen, ‘…when you all speak now, all I hear is blah blah blah, wah-wah
In recent years, Duncan, owing to what he says is poor treatment by the media, has blocked efforts to converse with him. The Sentinel was unable to get his reaction to the effort to prevent him from again becoming mayor.
Mark Gutglueck

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