Using Historical Data To Handicap The City of San Bernardino Fifth Ward City Council Election in November 2011 Between Chas Kelley and Larry Lee

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

This is the latest installment in my series about historical election results, and what they may mean in the November 2011 San Bernardino Municipal Election.  The previous posts are about the Third Ward and the City Attorney’s Race.  I was unable to attend the candidates forum held at San Bernardino City Hall yesterday because I was busy watching the City of Redlands Council Meeting on television in Redlands.  I read the highlights in the local newspaper, including the microblog (via Twitter) which has apparently replaced the defunct SBNow blog.   The Fifth Ward race does not look particularly exciting.   Other than yard signs and billboards, and participation in the candidate debate, I have not seen any new information from the incumbent, Chas Kelley.  What I have seen from the challenger, Larry A. Lee, (as found on his website) is that his platform is:

·      No Tax or Fee Increases
·      Fair Share of City Services for all 5th Ward neighborhoods
·      Promote Development
·      Work to Bring Jobs back to the City.
·      To be a Team Player for the Good of the Whole City.
·      To Represent the Entire 5th Ward and City Well.
·      Promote Civility, Respect, and Honor
·      Build a Strong Network of Communication through Healthy and Personal Relationships.
·      To Connect and Work with Our Youth (Our Next Leaders)
·      To Change the Perceived Image of Our City, by first Changing the way we think of it
There is no doubt in my mind that Chas Kelley would agree with these principles, so Larry Lee needs to do a better job of showing why he can do a better job than Chas Kelley if he wants to be a council member.  Though I have heard mild grumblings about Chas Kelley over the years mostly  personal attacks that cannot be taken seriously, and occasionally policy disagreements), I do not think he is unpopular in the 5th Ward, at least not like his predecessor.  Larry Lee’s talking points listed above do suggest possible angles to differentiate Pastor Lee from Council Member Kelley.  “Fair Share of City Services for all 5th Ward neighborhoods.”  The achievements that Council member Kelley likes to talk about (the Community Center, the trail system, Ronald Reagan Park) tend to serve Kendall Hills and Verdemont.  Pastor Lee should point that out to the people living adjacent to Little Mountain.  “To Be A Team Player for the Good of the Whole City” and “Promote Civility, Respect and Honor” sound like they are generic platitudes, but it alludes to the confrontations between Mayor Morris and Council Member Kelley.  Strangely, Larry Lee has not put his endorsements up yet.  However, judging from the Facebook photos of Mayor Morris at his fundraiser, comments from Sixth Ward Council Member Rikke Van Johnson on his Facebook Wall, and a comment from City Attorney candidate and recent San Bernardino resident David McKenna, we can conclude that he is squarely in the Morris camp.  I have no idea how popular the Mayor is in the 5th Ward, but I find it puzzling that Pastor Lee has not updated his webpage with endorsements.

Here is the last race, November 2007:

COUNCIL MEMBER – CITY OF SAN BERNARDINO WARD 5
Vote For 1

17 of 17 Precincts Reporting

CANDIDATE

VOTES

PERCENT

CHAS A. KELLEY 1638 59.80%
CAROLYN A. TILLMAN 596 21.76%
RICK AVILA 417 15.22%
RANDY LEE 85 3.10%
Write-In 3 0.11%

Council Member Chas Kelley won easily in a four person field.    I would expect a similar turnout in this election.  The relationship between Council member and Mayor Morris has stayed relatively the same since the last election, so I would guess the Mayor’s supporters will vote for Pastor Lee, and Chas Kelley, as long he has not been ignoring his constituents in the last four years, should be reelected.   The demographics of the 5th Ward have changed with the collapse of the housing markets, but I doubt that will have an impact on Council member Kelley since Pastor Lee’s platform is not markedly different from what I expect Chas Kelley’s platform to be once he sends out campaign fliers or has a website or a Facebook account. Pastor Lee has to demonstrate the City’s and Ward’s failings (one only has to look at the lack of street lights on the Kendall curve), and try to connect those to Chas Kelley.  In short, he has to give a reason for 5th Ward voters to dump the incumbent.

Chas Kelley was well-liked enough to come in third in the first electoral battle in 2005  between now-Mayor Morris and City Attorney James F. Penman:

City of San Bernardino – Mayor
113/113 100.00%

 

Vote Count

Percent

PAT MORRIS

11,249

43.42%

JAMES F. ‘JIM’ PENMAN

6,648

25.66%

CHAS A. KELLEY

4,079

15.74%

RICK AVILA

3,425

13.22%

MICHAEL ELLISON-LEWIS

466

1.80%

Write-In

42

0.16%

Total

25,909

100.00%

 

Here is the data from Chas Kelley’s first election over incumbent Joe Suarez.  This election was impressive because it is difficult to beat an incumbent in San Bernardino.   But he did not beat Joe Suarez, he trounced Joe Suarez in November 2003:

CITY OF SAN BERNARDINO

Member City Council,

Ward 5

CHAS A. KELLEY                                 1,519   64.72

JOE V. C. SUAREZ                                 816   34.77

WRITE-IN                                          12    0.51

The powers-that-be in 2003 underestimated Chas Kelley, and that was a mistake because he is a good local politician, and he had a grass-roots view of the 5th Ward.

The last election data I have is the 1999 election when Joe Suarez beat Jim Erwin and Mike Vasquez:

CANDIDATE

VOTES

PERCENT

JAMES H ERWIN

678

36.2%

MIKE VASQUEZ

183

9.7%

JOE SUAREZ

1011

54.0%

I’m not sure what you can draw from this data, except that the population has grown, as have the likely voters.  Also, the Ward boundaries changed between the 1999 and 2003.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Address : 1255 W. Colton Ave., Suite 104
Redlands, CA 92374
Telephone: (909) 708-6055
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About Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law
Michael Reiter is a Redlands, California-based lawyer, serving San Bernardino County and Riverside County in Southern California's Inland Empire. Michael Reiter is a lawyer practicing in the following fields of law: Personal Injury Law, Municipal Law, Code Enforcement Law, Small Business Law and Real Estate Law. Michael Reiter practices in all the local courts, including San Bernardino Superior Court, Riverside Superior Court, and the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Michael Reiter was admitted to the California State Bar in 1998. Michael Reiter was Assistant City Attorney for the City of Redlands, a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, and Staff Attorney for Legal Aid Society of San Bernardino. Michael Reiter serves all of San Bernardino and Riverside County, Orange County, and Los Angeles County. Michael Reiter can be reached at (909) 708-6055, or by electronic mail at michael@michaelreiterlaw.com. 300 E. State St. #517 Redlands CA 92373-5235

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