The June 5th primary is tomorrow (Tuesday), and the race for mayor of San Bernardino is heating up. Two of the seven candidates will be chosen in Tuesday's primary to go head-to-head in November. KVCR's Benjamin Purper has more on the leading candidates in the primary race for San Bernardino mayor.
Six of the seven candidates running for mayor gathered at a debate hosted by the North End Neighborhood Association of San Bernardino on May 23.
All the candidates were there except for Danny Malmuth, a former filmmaker who announced his candidacy in July of last year.
The candidates answered questions on topics like crime, homelessness, sanctuary cities, and how to revitalize the city.
Mayor Carey Davis, who is running for re-election, spoke at the debate about his plans to address what he calls the number one priority of San Bernardino residents: reducing crime.
“Through the bankruptcy, we established a five-year resource plan. That five-year resource plan continues to build the police department, adding sworn officers, improving their equipment, and ensuring that they have the tools that they need,” he said.
Another candidate at the debate, businesswoman Karmel Roe, criticized the mayor for what she sees as plans without action.
“If I’m elected the mayor of the city of San Bernardino, I plan to bring action, not just plans. We have a lot of plans that never actually get acted upon.”
Roe said that one of the city’s biggest problems is a lack of courageous leadership. She also believes the city should build more housing stock for local college graduates.
“We need to build middle-class housing, because we have a lot of students from that can’t live here. Eighty percent of our city are renters. That’s actually backwards, but we have no housing stock for the college graduates to come to,” Roe said. “We could build out real nice over there by Waterman, we could build up downtown very nice.”
The other woman in the race running for mayor is Gigi Hanna, the current City Clerk for San Bernardino. One of Hanna’s main priorities is revitalizing downtown San Bernardino, which she says will attract businesses and improve residents’ quality of life.
“I think that we need a walkable downtown where there are cafes, and retail, and so that it brings people in,” Hanna said in an interview. “I think that we need to eminent domain the empty buildings that are down there. And I'm not talking about kicking little old ladies out of their houses, I'm talking about absentee landlords, that they're adding to the blight.”
“We need to get those people out, we need to get control of those buildings, and we need to develop downtown into what it should be, which is a vibrant business area that's adding to our tax base.”
Hanna says that as mayor, she would encourage residents to participate in re-shaping the city.
“We're all in this together, and we need to listen to the public, we need to value the history that's here, and embrace it. And I have hope. I have hope for this city. I think we can do it. But we're going to do it together.”
Another leading candidate for mayor is John Valdivia, who serves as a City Councilman for San Bernardino’s Third Ward. He’s raised over 200,000 dollars in campaign funds – by far the most out of the candidates.
Valdivia believes his record as a councilman reflects the kind of change he’ll bring to City Hall.
“San Bernardino desperately needs dynamic new leadership and a change in City Hall, to really impact and improve our city.” Valdivia told KVCR.
“What does that look like? That looks like more jobs, job creation. That's one of my big platforms, is I want to return people back to work in our city. When I see some of the percentiles of our households not having a sustainable living wage and an economic component in their own wealth creation, that's scary. I want to make sure that if I become mayor, we're going to get people back to work in our community.”
Valdivia has a few plans to clean up the city and attract businesses.
“I don't expect it to be Beverly Hills, and most of our blue collar community doesn't either. But this city should have various and multiple commerce zones that are thriving, more markets, more retailers, more offerings, and a clean community,” Valdivia said.
“I think people are mistaken to say that, well, you can't recreate the city. Well, we can do some things that are pretty simple and cheap to do. And that's, abate graffiti, police our entry points, have some good scheduled and programmed street sweeping and blight eradication crews that are out there consistently.”
The other candidates running for mayor are school board member Danny Tillman, engineering contractor Rick Avila, and former filmmaker Danny Malmuth.
The last day to vote in the primary election is June 5th.