Four Riverside City Council candidates squared off in runoff elections for two seats Tuesday, with an incumbent winning a second term and one newcomer easily defeating another for a vacant seat.
Businessman Andy Melendrez and retired sheriff's Deputy Ruben Rasso campaigned to represent contentious Ward 2, which covers Riverside's working-class Eastside. The seat, vacated by the retirement of Ameal Moore, also covers the UC Riverside neighborhood and part of the upscale Canyon Crest area.
By late Tuesday, Melendrez had trounced Rasso, 60% to 40%, with all precincts in the Ward 2 contest counted.
In Ward 4, Councilman Frank Schiavone was seeking reelection against challenger Sam Cardelucci, a retired trash company executive. Ward 4 covers the Orangecrest neighborhood, Alessandro Heights, Casa Blanca, Hawarden Hills, the Auto Center and part of Canyon Crest.
And with all Ward 4 votes tallied, Schiavone walked past Cardelucci with 56% of the vote to the challenger's 44%.
In Ward 2, Rasso emphasized public safety as his campaign priority, citing endorsements from Riverside County Sheriff Bob Doyle and Assistant Dist. Atty. Rod Pacheco.
"The most important duty or obligation of any government is to make sure its citizens are safe," Rasso said.
Rasso said he also hoped to alleviate the city's gridlock by synchronizing traffic lights, limiting road construction to off-peak hours and working to clean up University Avenue, which is plagued by gang activity and prostitution.
His rival, Melendrez, said he would work to control growth and preserve open space.
"We haven't provided enough retail or provided enough parks to ... create a balanced community," Melendrez said. He also named traffic control and gang-violence prevention along University Avenue as major concerns.
Rasso won 42% of the vote in the November election, and Melendrez had 32%.
In Ward 4, Councilman Schiavone, a custom-home builder, said he wanted to improve transportation and public safety in his ward, and maintain the city's rosy financial state.
The one-term councilman has worked to ease complaints by residents that the flight paths of DHL cargo planes travel over local neighborhoods, contrary to plans advertised by the hub's developer. Schiavone, a member of the March Joint Powers Authority, said he was working with DHL to modify the flight paths.
"I'm not a single-issue candidate," Schiavone said.
His rival, Cardelucci, is calling for an investigation of the DHL agreement and says he hopes to ease traffic, manage growth and draw jobs to the city.
He plans to "hold City Hall accountable to you," according to a candidate statement.
Cardelucci drew 25% of the vote in November, behind Schiavone's 43%.
Runoffs are held between the top vote-getters when no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote.
Turnout for the runoffs in two of Riverside's seven wards was about 19%, according to the Riverside County Registrar of Voters website late Tuesday night.