San Bernardino City Council candidates discuss priorities

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With the June 7th election date quickly approaching, Inland Empire Community News (IECN) reached out to all San Bernardino City Council candidates in wards 1, 2 and 4 to gain an understanding of their priorities and how they plan to address some of the city’s biggest issues.

While all seven of the candidates running for council were contacted, five of them responded.

According to the official list of candidates on the city’s website, incumbent Theodore Sanchez is running against San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water Director Gil J. Botello for Ward 1; while incumbent Sandra Ibarra is running against Safety Commissioner Terry Elliot in Ward 2; and incumbent Fred Shorett is facing small business owner Teresa Parra Craig and Vince Laster for Ward 4.

In Ward 1, Sanchez’s priorities are safe streets, community policing, and infrastructure improvements, while Botello’s priorities are set on reducing homelessness, public safety, and affordable housing.

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Unfortunately, IECN did not obtain a response from Ibarra, but Elliott said that he plans to prioritize safer neighborhoods, better jobs, and homelessness.

For Ward 4, Shorett said that his top priorities include public safety, economic development and quality of life, and Parra Craig says she will prioritize funding the police department, reducing homelessness, and improve housing property values; 4th ward Candidate Laster did not respond to the inquiry.

It’s arguable that some of San Bernardino’s greatest issues include homelessness, crime and economic inflation, and IECN has the scoop on how each candidate would address these problems city-wide.

“I support the Governor’s plan to use mental health courts to help get addicts and disturbed homeless individuals off the street and into effective treatment programs. When it comes to crime, I’ll work with our outstanding new Police Chief to fully restore San Bernardino’s police

force that was depleted because of the bankruptcy and the failure of our city council to provide the funding needed to hire enough police officers to protect our community,” said Botello.

When asked about economic inflation, Botello said that inflation is a national problem.

“What the city council can do is to make local housing more affordable for San Bernardino families. We need to invest in our people by providing financial incentives to build moderate-income homes with priority given to local residents – not outside real estate investors,” concluded Botello.

Elliott’s solutions to homelessness include shutting down illegal homeless camping and freeing parks and open spaces for families to enjoy safely, along with moving this population into effective mental health and drug treatment programs.

“To elevate public safety in San Bernardino I plan to restore police funding that was lost during the bankruptcy, hire more police officers to expand local patrols, and re-opening our City Jail so our officers can swiftly address criminal conduct and get back on our streets rather than spending hours waiting to book offenders at county facilities,” said Elliott.

In terms of combatting economic inflation, Elliott said he will attract quality businesses that will provide higher paying jobs with benefits and encourage the building of moderate-income housing to help more families achieve the dream of homeownership.

“We’re currently working on multiple fronts to address the issue of homelessness. We’re engaging with the homeless in the field and trying to get them the help and services they need,” said Shorett. “We’re partnering with multiple agencies both governmental and private non-profits and aggressively working to get the homeless connected with the appropriate service providers. We must find long term solutions for the chronic homeless population that suffer from mental illness and drug addiction or both.”

Shorett said that when it comes to crime, it needs to be approached in a multifaceted way.

“We’re working hard to hire additional officers and we’re having success at that. Also, we’re continuing to provide funding and resources to the police department such as new and upgraded technology and equipment. Recently, we approved the hiring of eight more code enforcement officers, which will bring the total to 20 officers. Some of our current code officers will be working nights and weekends for better coverage and enforcement of code violators,” concluded Shorett.

When it comes to crime, Parra Craig said she’ll take action to strengthen San Bernardino’s crime fighting effectiveness by restoring the 100 police officers who were lost due to the city’s financial mismanagement.

“We need more police officers on patrol throughout our community to prevent crime and keep residents safe. We have funding through Measure S to increase funding. Also, on the City Council, I’ll work to reduce homelessness by providing better access to housing, mental health and addiction treatment services. The incumbent has done nothing to address this issue. It’s not humane to let the homeless suffer on the streets and it’s not fair to allow homelessness to diminish the quality of life in our community,” said Parra Craig.

When asked about economic inflation, Parra Craig said, “ I will work to expedite home construction and protect renters from unfair rent increases. Improving housing affordability for residents will be a priority for me on the city council.”

For more information, visit www.sbcity.org/cityhall/city_clerk/election_information.asp.

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