California District 31

    As a preface, the positions in local government in California are non-partisan, and with the open primary system for most other offices in California, and the rise of the decline to state voter, partisan identification is less important.

    However, people are reaching this site by asking whether the people in charge of San Bernardino are Republicans or Democrats.  The reason why, I would surmise, is that so partisans of both stripes can point fingers and say things like, “that’s what happens when liberals are in charge” or “that’s what happens when Republicans are in charge,”  I will share the real or perceived partisan affiliations of the players in San Bernardino based upon conventional wisdom, circumstantial evidence, or past knowledge.

    Mayor Patrick J. Morris.  Under San Bernardino’s Charter, the Mayor is allowed to cast votes in case of ties, and to veto legislation by the Common Council.  Therefore, the  independently elected Mayor, who is not a council member, has duties beyond presiding over meetings.  Mayor Patrick J. Morris is a former Superior Court judge, and is long time Democrat.  He endorsed Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar for the 31st Congressional District, but is now supporting Republican Bob Dutton.

    Council member for the First Ward: Virigina Marquez: Democrat.  Evidence: The link to the right says she is a member of the Greater Rialto Democratic Club, and she has, in the past (2010) endorsed Representative Joe Baca.

    Council member for the Second Ward: Robert Jenkins: Republican. Evidence, this Black Voice News article endorsing Democrat John Longville.  He has also endorsed Brea Congressman Gary Miller for 31st District Congressman.

    Council member for the Third Ward: John Valdivia: Decline To State, according to statements at the time of his election.   However, he has endorsed Brea Republican Congressman Gary Miller for 31st District Congressman.

    Council member of the Fourth Ward: Fred Shorett: Unknown.  I could find no reliable information.

    Council member of the Fifth Ward: Chas Kelley: Republican.  Supports both Republican Bob Dutton and Republican Gary Miller, who are running against each other for Congressional District 31.

    Council member of the Sixth Ward: Rikke Van Johnson: Democrat.  He has links to President Obama and Governor Brown on his personal website.

    Council Member of the Seventh Ward: Wendy McCammack: Republican. According to her City biography, linked at right, she is a member of the “Republican Women Federated of San Bernardino.”  She also endorsed Brea Congressman Gary Miller.

    So, for the national partisans who wish to make hay of the bankruptcy vote to blame Democrats or Republicans?  Voting for bankruptcy: Marquez (Democrat), Jenkins (Republican), Johnson (Democrat), McCammack (Republican). Voting against bankruptcy: Kelley (Republican) and Shorett (Unknown), and abstaining: John Valdivia (Decline to State).  Not vetoing the bankruptcy vote: Morris (Democrat).

    As to City Attorney James F. Penman, since people are obsessed to know his political affiliation, when I started at the City Attorney’s Office, he was registered as a Democrat, but he switched to what was then non-partisan (now called Decline to State).  I have no idea regarding the status of his registration.

    The most surprising news out of the 31st Congressional District of California is that Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar did not make the General Election, leaving Gary Miller, a Republican from Diamond Bar in Los Angeles County, and Bob Dutton, a Republican from Rancho Cucamonga.

    First, I think Pete Aguilar did an excellent job on his first run for national office.  His staff was enthusiastic, and from my interactions with them, knew what they were doing.  I don’t think any actions or inaction by Mayor Aguilar or his staff and volunteers are to blame.

    1. Democrats snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.   Too many Democrats were running in a plurality Democratic district.  Justin Kim appeared, anecdotally, to have strong grass-roots support, and I am sure his showing surprised some observers.  The Democrats were hampered by having too many candidates, and a lack of party organization and discipline, nationally, at the state level and locally.  Justin Kim effectively split the vote with Pete Aguilar.  Additonally, the votes received by any other Democrat could have put Pete Aguilar over the top.

    2. Strong(er) Republican turn-out, with less turn out overall.  Senator Dutton had excellent name recognition, having represented Redlands before.

    3. Even with a new district, the traditional electoral dominance of the West End over the East Valley.

    4. Money.  While Mayor Aguilar raised an impressive amount of money, it is no surprise that with the amount of money either stockpiled by Gary Miller, raised fresh by Gary Miller, and spent on behalf of Gary Miller by the realtors, that Gary Miller received the most votes.

    UPDATE (11/7/2012): Looking for the November 6, 2012 Election Results for San Bernardino County?: Click here:


    Here are the unofficial results, as of 1:46 a.m. today, of the 2012 Primary for the County of San Bernardino.  I have omitted the propositions, U.S. Senate and the primary votes.
    “Winners” are in bold (most of the races are part of California’s top two primary, where the top two vote-getters go on to the general.  The same is true of the Supervisor primaries, except if someone wins a majority, they don’t hold a general election).  If the district is in more than one county, I didn’t show the winners.

    The short version:  Gregg Imus versus Paul Cook in CD8, Bob Dutton versus Gary Miller in CD31, Gloria Negrete McCloud versus Joe Baca (Senior) in CD35, Josie Gonzales wins as 5th District Supervisor, Neil Derry and James Ramos in the 3rd District General Election in November, and Robert Lovingood versus Rick Roelle in the 1st District General Election.
    Congress 8th (San Bernardino County only, district includes Inyo and Mono)
    836/836 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    JOSEPH D. NAPOLITANO    760    1.20%
    ANTHONY ADAMS    2,168    3.44%
    DENNIS L. ALBERTSEN    618    0.98%
    GREGG IMUS    9,381    14.87%
    ANGELA VALLES    3,843    6.09%
    PHIL LIBERATORE    9,064    14.37%
    BILL JENSEN    1,488    2.36%
    BRAD MITZELFELT    7,390    11.71%
    RYAN MCEACHRON    2,370    3.76%
    JACKIE CONAWAY    8,748    13.87%
    PAUL COOK    10,253    16.25%
    GEORGE T. CRAIG    1,040    1.65%
    JOHN PINKERTON    5,964    9.45%
    Total    63,087    100.00%

    Congress 27th (Mostly Los Angeles)
    21/21 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    BOB DURAN    1,622    30.54%
    JACK ORSWELL    1,860    35.02%
    JUDY CHU    1,829    34.44%
    Total    5,311    100.00%

    Congress 31st
    439/439 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    PETE AGUILAR    12,016    22.82%
    BOB DUTTON    13,088    24.86%
    RENEA WICKMAN    3,446    6.54%
    RITA RAMIREZ-DEAN    2,966    5.63%
    JUSTIN KIM    7,083    13.45%
    GARY G. MILLER    14,057    26.70%
    Total    52,656    100.00%

    Congress 35th
    239/239 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    ANTHONY W. VIEYRA    4,301    18.97%
    GLORIA NEGRETE MCLEOD    7,702    33.98%
    JOE BACA    10,666    47.05%
    Total    22,669    100.00%

    Congress 39th (Mostly Orange and Los Angeles)
    32/32 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    ED ROYCE    4,589    67.63%
    D’MARIE MULATTIERI    242    3.57%
    JAY CHEN    1,954    28.80%
    Total    6,785    100.00%

    State Senator District 21 (Mostly Los Angeles)
    165/165 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    STEVE KNIGHT    17,454    68.91%
    STAR MOFFATT    7,875    31.09%
    Total    25,329    100.00%

    State Senator District 23 (includes Riverside County)
    622/622 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    MELISSA RUTH O’DONNELL    21,135    36.33%
    BILL EMMERSON    37,043    63.67%
    Total    58,178    100.00%

    State Senator District 25 (Mostly Los Angeles County)
    42/42 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    GILBERT V. GONZALES    4,841    58.63%
    AMEENAH FULLER    702    8.50%
    CAROL LIU    2,714    32.87%
    Total    8,257    100.00%

    State Senator District 29 (includes  Los Angeles and Orange County)
    31/31 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    ROBERT ”BOB” HUFF    4,583    69.31%
    GREG DIAMOND    2,029    30.69%
    Total    6,612    100.00%

    State Assembly District 33
    548/548 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    TIM DONNELLY    21,081    51.65%
    WILLIAM E. ”BILL” JAHN    7,767    19.03%
    JOHN COFFEY    11,964    29.31%
    Total    40,812    100.00%

    State Assembly District 36 (Mostly Los Angeles County)
    10/10 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    RON SMITH    959    42.81%
    STEVE FOX    585    26.12%
    TOM LACKEY    696    31.07%
    Total    2,240    100.00%

    State Assembly District 40
    341/341 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    RUSS WARNER    16,066    42.11%
    MIKE MORRELL    22,083    57.89%
    Total    38,149    100.00%

    State Assembly District 41 (Mostly Los Angeles County)
    55/55 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    VICTORIA RUSNAK    1,635    14.21%
    CHRIS HOLDEN    1,521    13.22%
    MICHAEL A. CACCIOTTI    1,328    11.54%
    ED COLTON    3,224    28.02%
    DONNA LOWE    3,800    33.02%
    Total    11,508    100.00%

    State Assembly District 42 (Includes Riverside County)
    150/150 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    MARK ANTHONY OROZCO    4,710    36.08%
    BRIAN NESTANDE    8,343    63.92%
    Total    13,053    100.00%

    State Assembly District 47
    283/283 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    JOE BACA JR.    9,064    41.96%
    CHERYL R. BROWN    6,307    29.20%
    THELMA E. BEACH    1,406    6.51%
    JEANE ENSLEY    4,825    22.34%
    Total    21,602    100.00%

    State Assembly District 52 (includes Los Angeles County)
    149/149 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    PAUL VINCENT AVILA    2,207    14.35%
    RAY MOORS    1,090    7.09%
    KENNY COBLE    6,371    41.43%
    NORMA J. TORRES    5,711    37.14%
    Total    15,379    100.00%

    State Assembly District 55 (includes Los Angeles and Orange County)
    31/31 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    CURT HAGMAN    4,825    72.44%
    GREGG D. FRITCHLE    1,836    27.56%
    Total    6,661    100.00%

    County Supervisor – 1st District
    346/346 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    JERMAINE WRIGHT SR.    2,402    7.77%
    MICHAEL ORME    2,506    8.10%
    ROBERT A. LOVINGOOD    6,492    20.99%
    RICK ROELLE    6,092    19.69%
    BOB SMITH    4,479    14.48%
    BRET L. HENRY    4,620    14.94%
    RUSSELL E. ”RUSS” BLEWETT    4,342    14.04%
    Total    30,933    100.00%

    County Supervisor – 3rd District
    480/480 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    NEIL DERRY    13,926    32.84%
    JAMES C. RAMOS    19,898    46.92%
    JIM BAGLEY    8,586    20.25%
    Total    42,410    100.00%

    County Supervisor – 5th District
    248/248 100.00%
    Vote Count    Percent
    JOSIE GONZALES    11,375    62.84%
    JOHN TAACK    4,435    24.50%
    SILVIA J. MARROQUIN    2,291    12.66%
    Total    18,101    100.00%

    I don’t have much to add that hasn’t been said elsewhere.  This is the first test for the California top two primary in this area, and I am especially curious to see the results in the 8th Congressional district race to see if the alleged moderation effect touted by Abel Maldonado works or not.  I am, of course, curious to see the effect on the 31st Congressional District.  I want to see if spending in our unique media market had an impact on the top two nominated for the general election. I’ll go out on a limb here: The final two will come out of these four candidates: Pete Aguilar, Justin Kim, Bob Dutton or Gary Miller.

    As for San Bernardino proper, except for the two supervisorial races, not much is going on.  I have no strongly held opinions about those races.

    This post has a both a legal and a political bent, so let me start with the legal side.  I have written in the past about blind operators (specifically, in this post dated July 11, 2011):

    I was a file clerk/runner for Milligan and Beswick in San Bernardino over twenty years ago.  Part of my job was to file pleadings with the court.  I became fairly intimate with the building at 351 North Arrowhead Avenue.  In the early 1990s, there were no metal detectors at the court.  You could easily run into the court and then back out.

    I would sometimes get lunch for people in the office from the courthouse cafeteria.   It was run by a blind operator.   I would also sometimes buy snacks from the other blind operator (his sight was only somewhat impaired).  I remember buying popcorn, peanut M&Ms and six ounce Pepsi Colas in bottles (which by the early 1990s were not easy to come by) from the operator located next to the main stairway in the old courthouse.  I recall that he also sold hot dogs of the sort you could find in a movie theater.

    Flash forward to 2012.  I first heard the story you will find bellow a few months ago, but here it is featured in the first Pete Aguilar for Congress mailer (that I have seen, anyway).

    On the front is a picture of Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar standing with his hands in his pockets in front of the San Bernardino County Courthouse at 351 North Arrowhead Avenue in San Bernardino.  The caption says “Pete Aguilar Learned Valuable Lessons in This Building” the bottom says “Learn more about Pete at

    On the second page of the four page flier it says: “PETE AGUILAR. Mayor. Democrat.  Business Owner.”


    The second and third page has a picture of Pete Aguilar talking to three people in what appears to be a cafeteria.  The third page has the following pull quotes from Mayor Pete Aguilar:

    “My FIRST JOB, as a teenager, was bussing tables and washing dishes at the San Bernardino County Courthouse Cafeteria.

    “My grandfather, who was legally blind, managed the facility and manned the cash register.  He taught me the values of hard work, playing by the rules and helping others.

    “Washington has lost those values.  Today, our politicians would rather pick fights than solve problems.

    “I’m running for Congress to help small businesses, create jobs and protect Medicare for our seniors.  That’s the change that middle-class families need in Washington.”

    – Pete Aguilar

    I first met Pete Aguilar after he was appointed to the Redlands City Council after the departure of  Susan Peppler, when he went to meet staff.  I was at the Council Meeting at which he was appointed, and I believe I sat either behind him and his wife Alisha and his very young (at the time) son Palmer, or in front of them.  That particular meeting was one of the most interesting I had ever attended, but that’s a post for a different time.  However, it appears we may have had a brush with each other decades earlier in the basement of the San Bernardino County Courthouse.

    The final page is a picture of Pete Aguilar and his family, Palmer, Evan and Alisha.  The text says “Pete Aguilar, Leadership on Your Side” and “Pete Aguilar is a small business owner, Mayor of Redlands and a fourth generation resident of the Inland Empire.  He and his wife Alisha live in Redlands with their sons Evan and Palmer.”



    From the press release on Pete Aguilar for Congress’ website:

    U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein Endorses Pete Aguilar for Congress

    Calls Aguilar ‘Dynamic Leader Who Will Protect Medicare’
    03 May 2012

    U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the first woman elected Senator of California, has endorsed Pete Aguilar for Congress in California’s 31st Congressional District, the Aguilar campaign announced today.

    “Pete Aguilar is the dynamic leader that San Bernardino County needs in Washington, someone who will defend working families, our seniors and the small businesses that are so crucial to California’s future,” Sen. Feinstein said.

    “Pete will protect Medicare and resist efforts to reverse important new health provisions, ensuring that millions of Californians who were dropped from health coverage when they got sick can now stay protected. Pete has shown that he can get things done and will be a valuable addition to the U.S. Congress,” she added.

    Commenting on Feinstein’s endorsement, Pete Aguilar said, “I am very grateful to have the support and encouragement of Senator Feinstein, whose work to reenergize our economy, advocate for infrastructure investments in the Inland Empire, and protect Medicare and Social Security has benefitted citizens in San Bernardino County and throughout our state.”

    Earlier this month, Aguilar pledged to protect Medicare as a member of Congress, noting that the Congressional budget plan drafted by Cong. Paul Ryan could significantly lower Medicare enrollment and raise costs for thousands of future retirees in San Bernardino County.

    Aguilar (D) is a small business owner and Mayor of Redlands. He is a fourth generation resident of the Inland Empire. As Redlands Mayor, Aguilar has led efforts to reduce the city’s budget deficit, establish a reserve fund, equip police with more tools to fight crime and make critical investments in local roads and infrastructure.


    A recent picture of the California 31st Congressional District Open Primary signs:

    Dueling Bob Dutton and Gary Miller Signs in Redlands

    This is located at approximately 710 East Redlands Boulevard, roughly in front of the Albertsons in Redlands.  As we can see, the sign says “Re-Elect Gary Miller Congressman,” even though Jerry Lewis represents this area in Congress. Above the neon Gary Miller sign is a Bob Dutton for U.S. Congress sign.  Both are Republicans; Gary Miller says he is moving to Rancho Cucamonga if he is elected; Bob Dutton is a California State Senator, and he was a Rancho Cucamonga council member.

    The primary election for the new California 31st Congressional District (not to be confused with the current 31st Congressional District, which is in Los Angeles County)  is on June 5, 2012.  This is an open primary, meaning that two top preferences will move to the general election in November 2012.

    According to the San Bernardino Registrar of Voters, the open primary works like this:

    The Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act requires that all candidates for a voter-nominated office be listed on the same ballot. Previously known as partisan offices, voter-nominated offices are state legislative offices, U.S. congressional offices, and state constitutional offices.
    In this new open primary system, this means you can vote for any candidate, regardless of what party preference you indicated on your voter registration form. Only the two candidates receiving the most votes—regardless of party preference—move on to the general election regardless of vote totals. If a candidate receives a majority of the vote (50 percent +1), a general election still must be held. Even if there are only two candidates in the open primary, a general election is still required.
    Write-in candidates for voter-nominated offices can still run in the primary election. However, a write-in candidate can only move on to the general election if the candidate is one of the top two vote-getters in the primary election. Additionally, there is no independent nomination process for a general election.

    This system was created by the voters of the State of California in passing Proposition 14 on June 8, 2010.  The idea is that it will attract moderate candidates, because the candidates will no longer have to appeal to partisan voters in the primary.  At least in theory, we will find out what happens in the general election.
    Right now in the 31st Congressional District of California race, the following candidates are running in alphabetical order:
    Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, whose ballot designation is Business Owner/Councilmember, a Democrat.  I worked with Mayor Aguilar when I was Assistant City Attorney for Redlands. He was born in Fontana, lived in San Bernardino, went to Yucaipa High School and the University of Redlands, and now lives in Redlands, of course.

    Dr. Rita Ramierz-Dean, who is listed as “Retired Educator” on the ballot, a Democrat.

    California Senator Bob Dutton, who lists himself as an “Independent Small Businessmen,” a Republican, which I guess to the low-information voter sounds better than, say, California Senator.

    Justin Kim, who is listed as “Congressional Oversight Counsel,” a Democrat.  He lives in Loma Linda.

    Gary Miller, who is listed on the ballot as “Member of Congress,” no doubt for low-information voters, a Republican from Brea or Diamond Bar, depending on the account.  When you search “Gary Miller” Congress

    Renea Wickman, who is listed on the ballot as a Nonprofit Executive Director, lives in Redlands, and is a Democrat.

    The most recent data from the San Bernardino Registrar of Voters says that the new California 31st Congressional District has the following character: there are 291,087 voters. 38 percent, or 113,054 are permanent vote by mail voters.  It is a plurality Democratic district, with 118,960 registered Democrats (40.8 percent), 103,472 (35.5 percent) Republican voters, and 56,068 (19.3 percent) Decline To State (nonpartisan) voters.  The most voters after the big three (Democrats, Republicans and Decline To State) are American Independent at 9,065, 1,393 Libertarians, 1,064 Greens, 1,048 Peace and Freedomers, and 17 Americans Elect partisans.  That data is based on a 4/22/2012 run date.

    A variety of factors are in play here.  There should be light turn out for the Presidential primary as it is either over, or will be, for both parties by June 5, 2012.  Gary Miller is running as an incumbent, even though he isn’t from here, and doesn’t live here.  Bob Dutton must have some name recognition as a sitting elected official for this area, but as you can see both by the picture above and his website front page, he is neither running as a Republican, nor as a California Senator.  For the Democrats, Pete Aguilar has name recognition in Redlands, where he is the current Mayor.  As far as West End versus East Valley, it appears the district is about evenly divided between the two.  There are four Democrats running, and Pete Aguilar has raised the most money in the last reports.  I have seen some grass roots support for Justin Kim driving around Redlands (yard signs), but that anecdotal information is not of much value.  Justin Kim raised about half of what Pete Aguilar raised.  I see signs from someone running in the 8th District, and that doesn’t mean anything either.

    I won’t try to handicap the race, because there are too many variables.









    Pete Aguilar just announced today, but Pete Aguilar for Congress has a live website:

    Right now, it is a static page with an electronic mail sign-up.  The domain, was just created yesterday.


    The site says:

    We need a leader in Washington who will reach across party lines to create jobs, protect Medicare and Social Security, improve infrastructure, and stand up for middle class families.  We need Pete Aguilar.


    The text on the site continues:

    Pete Aguilar is the kind of leader the Inland Empire needs in Washington. As a small business owner, he understands responsibility, hard work, and how to create jobs. As Mayor of Redlands, he has a proven track record of working with others to create common ground to get things done for our community. As a husband and father, he knows what middle class families are going through, and will work hard to help working families by jump-starting our economy, keeping families in their homes, and fighting to ensure that the middle-class – the backbone of America’s economy – thrives again.

    Pete and his wife Alisha have lived in Redlands since 1997, and have two sons, Palmer and Evan.



    Today, January 12, 2012, Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar announced that he is running for the United States House of Representatives.  I have known Mayor Aguilar since he was appointed to the Redlands City Council in 2006.   I worked with him when I was Redlands’ Assistant City Attorney, and he has a firm grasp of East Valley, Inland Empire, California and national issues.  Mayor Aguilar will be an excellent representative for the district.