Pete Aguilar

    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.”



    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.