The San Bernardino Republican Women’s Federation welcomed San Bernardino Mayor John Valdivia to their dinner tables at the Mexico Cafe on Wednesday, July 31. The Mayor’s topic: The state of San Bernardino.
Despite the city’s challenges, Valdivia said that it’s a joy to work as their mayor.
“It gives me a great delight to lead the city; Every day I’m passionate coming to work at city hall, aggressively tackling the issues that have plagued our city for far too long.”
Valdivia was quick to address the negative coverage he has observed from media outlets:
“We all know folks, that’s fake news,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’ve gotta clean up city hall, we’ve gotta take care of business, and it’s for our people, the taxpayers, that we’re fighting for.”
His message to the city’s workers, hired, elected or appointed is, “If you want a paycheck, you’ve gotta come to work!”
Valdivia says that his objective at city hall is to develop a citizen-centered culture, with its citizens at the heart of what they do.
“No longer should city hall be a place where you come to ‘kiss the ring.’ We’re actually out there, very service-oriented… Fixing those potholes, trimming trees, getting back to the basics of city government.”
As a means of connecting citizens to services, the city uses the ‘GoRequest’ app to enable citizens to report issues such as graffiti, potholes, homeless encampments or other blights and start a traceable ticket number to have those issues abated.
To clean up at the city’s tarnished safety reputation, Valdivia says he’s worked to overhaul the city’s police department. He said he is driven to do this, as he is the only elected official in San Bernardino city hall with children under 18.
“In the last six months as mayor, I’ve reorganized the police department. We’re taking a topdown approach.”
As a result, traffic enforcement has increased ticketing and towing in the last 60 days, according to Valdivia.
In light of San Bernardino’s bankruptcy restructuring, Valdivia has passed his first city budget, which plugged a $11.2 million deficit without compromising public safety.
“Not one active-duty patrolman in our police department has received a pink slip.”
According to Valdivia, the city has the budget to hire nine more officers as of press time.
San Bernardino having the highest number of homeless people living within its limits, Valdivia says his office is trying to reduce that number.
“We’re going to receive a report from every two months. I’m asking for a more proactive reporting from our police department,” so the city can better determine how to apply resources to bring people out of homelessness and reduce crime.
The city recently opened the new Jerry Lewis Swim Center, an effort to better the resource of the city’s 47 parks.
“Kids can enjoy a crime-free, graffiti-free area over here at the Jerry Lewis center, and we’re excited about kids getting back into swimming…”
The city recently retook control of Seccombe Lake Park, long blighted by transients and neglected by the state’s parks department. Valdivia says plans for rehabbing the park are now just a matter of money.
“About a month and a half ago, the city of San Bernardino… initiated the approval and directed staff to apply for up to $8.5 million grant from the state parks department. We have submitted the application, our fingers are crossed on or by Dec. 1 we will know whether or not we’re the recipients of that money.”
Valdivia also say’s he’s gone as far as China to drum up business for the city.
“New jobs are being created at San Bernardino International Airport. We’re turning the ship on that [former] Norton Air Force Base, we’re bringing more jobs, more opportunities for our people. There are some concerns over traffic, but that’s a good problem to have! I think the biggest cure to poverty is a job.”
While Valdivia believes in providing jobs to the city, he says outsourcing some city maintenance to local outfits has provided some of those jobs more cost-effectively than the city can on its own.
“I understand… both dynamics,” he said. “I’ve gotta make sure there’s service delivery and we’ve gotta live within our means, would you agree?”
His bottom line is that he wants the next generation to enjoy growing up in San Bernardino, just as he did when he was a child.
“When I look at surrounding cities, God bless Victorville and Redlands and Rialto and Fontana. Great cities. But I always question the reason why can’t San Bernardino [be great] and when’s it our turn? And it is our turn! It’s time for ‘Team San Bernardino’ to win.”