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Three With Experience Competing to Lead Fast-Growing City

November 01, 2005|Susannah Rosenblatt | Times Staff Writer

Three familiar faces are contending for mayor of Riverside, which is grappling with an influx of new residents that has made it California's 11th-largest city.

Incumbent Ron Loveridge is seeking a fourth term in the Nov. 8 election and remains the favorite, although he is opposed by two City Hall veterans.

Challenger Ameal Moore has represented Riverside's Eastside and the neighborhoods near the university on the City Council since 1994. Terry Frizzel, a former mayor and councilwoman, trails the other two in fundraising and momentum.

As newcomers stream into Riverside in search of affordable housing, the Inland Empire's largest city struggles with mounting traffic woes, spotty public safety and an imperative to economically revitalize the growing metropolis of nearly 300,000.

Loveridge labels the current boom "the best of times in Riverside," saying key economic indicators -- sales tax revenue and new building permits -- are at record highs. Loveridge also touts rehabilitated city parks and the recent hiring of 25 new police personnel.

If reelected, Loveridge says, he hopes to continue his campaign to draw higher-paying jobs to the city and clean up a stretch of University Avenue swamped with prostitution and drug dealers.

"We have an opportunity now to ... take where we are and reinvent ourselves into California's next great city," said Loveridge, a former political science professor at UC Riverside.

The Riverside mayor casts no vote with the seven-member City Council but breaks ties, wields veto power over their decisions and serves as an influential political leader and advocate for the community.

Loveridge describes the job as facilitator between the City Council and city manager with "the power to persuade."

Moore calls the mayor too passive, pointing out that he has never used his veto power in more than a decade in office: "The mayor's been in office 12 years now, and he's stale," Moore said.

Moore also disagreed with the City Council's decision to fire City Manager George Caravalho in 2004 for not working more closely with the council and mayor. Moore says he also would like to draw more business to town but remained wary of the city's use of eminent domain, which has been a hot-button issue among local property owners during Loveridge's tenure.

Moore, an Air Force veteran and retired postal employee, also emphasizes outreach to the city's poor, proposing programs for local churches to help homeless families and youth education programs to cut down on gang violence.

Frizzel's populist campaign decries business as usual among city officials, and she says she wants to bring more transparency and civic participation to Riverside government. City leaders are too friendly with developers, Frizzel says, and don't always plan for adequate infrastructure when approving projects.

"You can see the direction we're headed in. It's not in the best interests of people that live in the community," said Frizzel, a real estate agent who was mayor from 1990 to 1994 and served on the City Council twice in the 1980s. She lost a City Council race against Councilman Steve Adams last year.

Frizzel is also a vocal opponent of eminent domain and helped draft anti-growth measures in 1979.

Loveridge's campaign has amassed more than $170,000 in contributions this year, Moore's has received more than $63,000, and Frizzel trails with about $13,500.

Developers and construction-related companies have donated thousands to Loveridge's reelection effort, including $3,000 from home builder D.R. Horton in Fort Worth, Texas.

Moore received similar contributions, including $2,500 from D.R. Horton.

Frizzel accepted $500 from the Freeman Co., downtown property owners.

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