San Bernardino mayoral candidates weigh in on top priorities and answer why they’re worthy of the community vote

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While the June 7th election is less than 40 days away, all seven of San Bernardino’s mayoral candidates are campaigning harder than ever before. 

Running for the coveted seat is incumbent John Valdivia, Attorney James F. Penman, CEO Mohammad Khan, former City Councilman and Workforce Development Analyst Henry Nickel, College Professor Dr. Treasure Ortiz, Independent Contractor Gabriel Jaramillo, and Businesswoman Helen Tran. 

Inland Empire Community News reached out to all seven candidates asking about their top priorities and why the community should give them their vote; the publication received responses from five of the candidates. 

“During my first term as Mayor, I’ve always put the needs of our people first. That’s why I worked to restore essential city services that were cut by the previous Mayor.  I turned our city finances around and built a $100 million budget surplus. My top priorities for San Bernardino continue to be reducing homelessness and crime in our community, creating more jobs and opportunities for our families, and making San Bernardino city government more accountable to the people,” said Mayor Valdivia. 

When asked why he deserves the City vote Valdivia said four years ago residents elected him to be an agent of change for the city.  

“As Mayor, I have demanded accountability from city officials and insisted on better community services for our customers – the people of San Bernardino.  My hard charging approach has ruffled some feathers at City Hall – and that’s good. Residents deserve a Mayor who fights for them,” concluded Valdivia. 

Director and CEO Mohammad Khan said his top priorities for the city include homelessness, hate crime, and bringing higher paying jobs to the city.

“My priorities for the city of San Bernardino are solving homelessness by partnering with local nonprofits to relocate them, reduce high crime rate through community policing, attract investors and businesses so we can have high paying jobs, repair parks and roads, and invest in education,” said Khan. 

Khan said that residents in the city should vote for him because he will work to generate more sources of income for the city, while maintaining a balanced budget. 

“I have experience working with low budget companies and San Bernardino for the past years has had a balanced budget. I will work to generate more sources of income for the city, so that we can fund projects to solve homelessness, high crime rate, repair roads, attract investors, and invest in high demand education,” concluded Khan. 

Former City Councilman Henry Nickel said his priorities for the city are public safety, cleaning up the city, and promoting Project Labor Agreements. 

“It’s important for me to create a safe city by supporting our police department and working to further stabilize and expand our police forces while augmenting enforcement through crisis intervention teams composed of mental health, substance abuse, and social service counselors. It’s also important to me to create a clean city by stepping up code enforcement against slumlords and negligent property owners while supporting owner occupied blighted properties through an array of incentives including amnesty upon timely compliance and renovation and repair subsidies,” said Nickel. 

“I want to build a prosperous city by promoting Project Labor Agreements and aligning with regional workforce development programs to expand apprenticeships and work experience for our most vulnerable populations while incentivizing investment and downtown development through targeted infrastructure and service investments while completing the city’s general plan,” continued Nickel. 

Nickel believes he deserves the community vote because San Bernardino is where he was born, earned his college degree, and purchased his first home. 

“I bring more than 20 years experience in finance, transportation, education and workforce development. With nearly seven years serving on San Bernardino’s city council, I’m the only challenger in this race with the knowledge of how our particular city manager form of government works. I earned the support of council colleagues when selected to serve as our city’s mayor pro tem in 2018, earning a reputation as a collaborative council member able to work with rather than against city council colleagues; where we created a resolution of the city’s 2013 bankruptcy, enactment of a new charter, stabilized the city’s finances through the passage of Measure S and attained the necessary funding to update the city’s general plan,” concluded Nickel. 

Dr. Treasure Ortiz says her top priorities for San Bernardino include promoting transparency and accountability, homelessness, and public safety. 

“My priorities for the city are to continue bringing change to our government by calling out corruption, while promoting transparency and accountability. I also want to work with the council to create a plan to finally address homelessness and establish pathways for treatment facilities to help treat addictions and mental illness. It’s also important for me to fund public safety initiatives that’ll help lower crime in our city which in return, will take some of the burden off of our officers who have been tasked with so much,” shared Ortiz. 

She says that she asks residents to vote for her because just like them, she also wants a better and stronger San Bernardino. 

“I’m tired of watching our city fail year after year, tired of the corrupt politicians working for their private agenda and against the people. San Bernardino has a bright future but the only way to get there is through change. I’ll be a Mayor money can not buy, one who calls out corruption, who brings transparency and accountability to the forefront, a Mayor who is here to serve the community. I know I can be all those things as our Mayor because it is who I am and what I have been doing for years as a regular resident,” concluded Ortiz. 

Businesswoman Helen Tran’s top priorities for the city are restoring trust in local government, COVID-19 pandemic recovery, and reducing homelessness. 

“I want to build a transparent and visible functioning local government to help rebuild years of lost trust after the bankruptcy and other scandals. It’s important for our city to develop partnerships with the County of San Bernardino and the State of California to facilitate shared services throughout the city, which would allow for improved services and savings. I want to focus on simple good governance in the form of expanding parks and open space, rebuilding streets and sidewalks, and removing trash and other blight from our streets,” Tran said. 

“As a result of the pandemic, hundreds of businesses closed their doors, and thousands of residents lost secure jobs. Changes are necessary for the city to attract high-paying jobs, which is why I’ll fight to invest in infrastructure using federal and state dollars to rebuild roads and telecommunications infrastructure to attract growing companies. I’ll work to build housing and emergency accommodations by identifying new funding and cutting red tape to ensure there are places for people experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness; in conjunction with expanding mental health services within the city, county, and state,” continued Tran. 

Tran says that the community should vote for her if they are ready for real change and a departure from the status quo. 

“My years in human resources and risk management have given me the tools to build genuine bridges, rather than divide based on a personal vendetta. I understand that being Mayor is not about serving myself, but serving the community. I’m not here to shame and blame, I’m here to use my voice to wake up the sleeping giant that is San Bernardino,” concluded Tran.