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Inland Voters Face Mayoral, Initiative Choices

November 07, 2005|Ashley Powers and Susannah Rosenblatt | Times Staff Writers

The mayor's office in the two largest cities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties are up for grabs in Tuesday's elections. Voters also face a slew of controversial initiatives that could curtail development in some areas, keep a desert hospital afloat and restore a religious icon to one city's official seal.

In Riverside, voters will decide whether to reelect longtime incumbent Mayor Ron Loveridge, or replace him with Councilman Ameal Moore or Terry Frizzel.

Frizzel, a real estate agent and former mayor, opposes the city's redevelopment push, especially the use of eminent domain. She wants city government to be more accessible and to control growth.

Loveridge touts Riverside's robust economy and improving public safety record as reasons to be elected to a third term, and hopes to continue redevelopment efforts.

Moore, a retired postal employee, criticizes Loveridge for never using his veto power. Moore wants to aid homeless families and reduce gang violence through church and youth programs.

In San Bernardino, voters will pick a mayor from a crowded field competing to replace Judith Valles, who is stepping down after two terms.

Contractor Rick Avila pledges to investigate the office of opponent James F. Penman, the city attorney, and stop the city from what he says is wasteful spending. Michael Ellison-Lewis, a former staff member for Rep. Joe Baca (D-Rialto), says he would bring jobs to San Bernardino and mend political rifts at City Hall.

Councilman Chas A. Kelley campaigns on plans to resurface roads, upgrade trash service and tidy city parks. Superior Court Judge Pat Morris promises to promote home construction in the city's vacant lots and more aggressively use county jail inmates to clean up neighborhood blight.

Penman, the city attorney for 18 years, wants a squad of retired police officers to respond to minor crimes and says lowering the crime rate would attract businesses.

If no one wins a majority, the top two finishers will compete in a Feb. 7 runoff. Most candidates have promised to hire more police officers.

Voters in parts of the region also will be asked to decide several measures, which include:

* Blythe: Measure I is intended to keep open Palo Verde Hospital in the Riverside County desert with a $32-per-parcel annual tax on property owners. It needs approval from two-thirds of city voters.

Supporters, such as Dr. David Brooks, president of the Palo Verde Health Care District, wrote that "having a full-service hospital and emergency room in Blythe [can] avoid forcing patients and their families to travel over 100 miles for hospital care or even to deliver a baby." Some residents have opposed spending tax money to keep the hospital open.

* Norco: Measure G would amend the city charter to require four of five City Council members' approval to rezone agricultural, hillside or low-density areas in the equestrian community.

"This amendment to the charter will make it more difficult for a developer ... to subdivide and rezone that property to build more homes on the existing lot," wrote supporters, which include the City Council. There were no written arguments against Measure G filed with elections officials.

* Redlands: Voters will grapple with a growth-stalling measure and an effort to return a cross to the San Bernardino County city's official seal.

Measure P would amend the city's general plan with a list of slow-growth provisions. Supports say the measure would preserve the city's downtown, canyons and citrus heritage. Opponents, including the Chamber of Commerce, counter that approving Measure P would force the city to enact new taxes or cut services and could block high-end retail development.

Measure Q would specify as part of the city seal a design that includes a cross, an action that could be amended or repealed only by voters. The City Council removed the cross from the seal last year, after the threat of legal action by the American Civil Liberties Union. Supporters of Measure Q wrote that the measure is "not about religion" but that voters should "take a stand against those who would ... hijack our freedoms," and that the cross symbolizes religion as part of the city's history.

Opponents say that if the measure passes the city will probably be sued, draining city funds. A no vote "affirms your respect for the religious preferences of your neighbors," they wrote.

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