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San Bernardino Mayor John Valdivia Speaks Out About His Censure, Part 2

The San Bernardino City Council meeting on December 1, 2021 for the special hearing to consider censuring Mayor John Valdivia.
Jonathan Linden
91.9 KVCR
The San Bernardino City Council meeting on December 1, 2021 for the special hearing to consider censuring Mayor John Valdivia.

San Bernardino Mayor John Valdivia spoke with KVCR's Jonathan Linden to discuss his unanimous censure by the city council on Dec. 1.

Jonathan Linden: You're listening to 91.9 KVCR news, and I'm Jonathan Linden on December 1st. San Bernardino Mayor John Valdivia was censured by unanimous 7-0 vote by the City Council after being accused of misusing $10,000 in city funds and other accusations. Last Friday, I spoke with Mayor Valdivia at Lytle Creek Park about the censure and how he plans to move forward from this. Here's part two of our conversation.

Jonathan Linden: And during the hearing, there was quite a few people who came up to support you. It seemed like they were some developers or, you know, business members. It seems like that's kind of adjacent with what kind of some of your talking points are right here. Do you feel like you're bringing more business and opportunity to San Bernardino?

John Valdivia: Oh, absolutely. I think the community is behind me; the taxpayers and the residents that know me realize that I solve problems. I get to work every day. I believe in my city. I have high, high hopes and aspirations for our city, and this is used to be a great city, and we're continuing to turn that around. And I'm very focused on an upward trajectory of business and growth development inclusive of our airport. San Bernardino International Airport continues to see year-over-year growth, and we're really excited about that.

Jonathan Linden: Yeah, and that definitely ties into my next question about you are, I believe, the president of San Bernardino International, right? Can you tell me a little bit about the nature of your job there and what exactly you're trying to achieve with that?

Portrait of San Bernardino Mayor John Valdivia.
City of San Bernardino
Portrait of San Bernardino Mayor John Valdivia.

John Valdivia: Yeah. So thank you, Jonathan, that that's certainly a great question. So the San Bernardino International Airport is organized into two entities the IVDA (Inland Valley Development Agency) and the San Bernardino SBIIA (San Bernardino International Airport Authority). I'm a member of the SBIIA, I was past president, and currently, I'm co-chair of the IVDA, and they both function as JPA's and government entities to oversee the growth opportunities at the airport.

Jonathan Linden: As I'm sure you know, we kind of briefly talked about this before warehousing has become a kind of a controversial issue in some circles, especially Amazon and in its growth. And what is your response to that where people criticize this kind of continued growth of warehouses? I know; I think San Bernardino has over 70 warehouses. Do you think that's a point of concern?

John Valdivia: Great question. Jonathan, most community members that I've spoken to support my business acumen to get something done. My experience as a city councilman now leveraged as a mayor. In fact, that's why I meet with people. That's why I'm task-oriented on meeting with developers and trying to bring additional business opportunities to San Bernardino International Airport. I went to China on behalf of the airport to leverage those relationships and continue those relationships. And so I am very focused. I think that there's great opportunities that will continue the growth expansion of our San Bernardino International Airport. Warehousing, logistics, the supply chain. Those are hot topics today. But I really think that when we boil this down, it comes to jobs. People in our community, the city of San Bernardino, I've been fastidious and very focused on making sure that the 7000 jobs that are coming to Amazon Prime Air here at our airport, that we as a community are first in line for those jobs. And so I'll be very focused on making sure that we have our people, the city residents, getting those jobs, and we're excited about it.

Jonathan Linden: What is your kind of comments to make about the potential environmental impacts of not just these warehouses, but I mean, I grew up here in the Inland Empire as well, and there is a lot of concerns about air quality? And I look at measured up against here the hillside in San Bernardino, and those numbers are some of the highest in the IE. What is your kind of response to environmental concerns?

John Valdivia: Jonathan, another great question. I think the bottom line is we're all concerned about our health. I'm concerned, as mayor of the City of San Bernardino, the health and integrity, and well-being of our kids and schools. And so that plays an important part in this whole equation. And so, I am very focused in ensuring that the quality is for the build-out opportunities will continue. We need to protect our children. We need to protect those residential zones and, where appropriate, place good a strong development that will increase the opportunity for economics here in our community. And I'm focused on that. I have no time to really diddle dally, and I'm not. I'm focused on making sure that our airport has a world-class opportunity, and we're doing that. San Bernardino International Airport continues to see phenomenal growth.

San Bernardino Mayor John Valdivia speaking during a City Council meeting on Dec. 1.
City of San Bernardino
San Bernardino Mayor John Valdivia speaking during a City Council meeting on Dec. 1.

Jonathan Linden: And are you doing anything to, you know, with future development to make sure that they are maybe having a less environmental impact and things that aren't going to maybe. As much as things did previously,

John Valdivia: Well, I can only speak of what is ahead for tomorrow, and we will follow every environmental law to the tee. We're not going to, you know, skirt any law. We believe in the law. I respect the law, and I want to make sure that certainly we abide by environmental laws, but development needs to continue and will happen surrounding the airport. We're excited about new opportunities for our San Bernardino International Airport. As chair of the IVDA, I'm focused on the upcoming Gateway-specific plan and other things that will enhance the airport operations.

Jonathan Linden: So, just to wrap up here, what are some of your other big issues that you're concerned about and that you're wanting to see changed here in San Bernardino?

John Valdivia: Well, Jonathan, I continue to be very optimistic. I'm a perennial optimist. I think you have to be as a mayor of any city, whether it's a small city or a big city like the City of San Bernardino. I remain very focused on my job as mayor. I love my job. It's a great opportunity. And so I want to share some great results that we have had in recent days. Public safety. Our police opportunities continue to be expressed through community-oriented policing. We just added 14 new San Bernardino City Police officers. They'll graduate from the Police Academy upcoming on December 16th. We have nine law enforcement trainees, which will start the police academy the first week of January 2022. This week alone, San Bernardino Police Department partnered with the state attorney general, the San Bernardino County District Attorney, CHP, and other law enforcement agencies across the region on a major crackdown of illegal gang activity in our city. There were 180 felony arrests, 30 illegal gambling establishments were shut down. Ninety-two handguns and 19 assault weapons were seized. Almost $300,000 in drug money was seized, and hundreds of pounds of illegal drugs were seized. I'm really, really excited about our police department. We have reorganized it in a fashion that is more palatable to residents and businesses in our community, and there's a lot of opportunities here in our city.

Jonathan Linden: Yeah. And that leads me to kind of ask; you know, like crime has been a big concern and it's made national news, the crime that happens here in San Bernardino. And you kind of touched on it here a little bit right now. How do you change that perception, and how do you reduce crime and make San Bernardino a safer city?

John Valdivia: Yeah, we. I'll tell you that the city of San Bernardino has been recently reorganized under my administration. In the last three years, we have reorganized our community-oriented policing. It's a federally recognized program. Also, we were the city of San Bernardino was just awarded $3.2 million in community policing grant money from the Department of Justice that will allow us to hire eight additional officers. Last month, in the month of November, I ribbon-cut the new community policing substation at the Inland Center Mall, providing us with a greater level of community engagement and access to our police staff. So I think there's a lot of hope. I think our residents continue to be excited about the future, and we're focused on deliveries where we're going to win here in 2022.

Jonathan Linden: Yeah. Anything else you'd like to share, mayor?

John Valdivia: I just want to say thank you. Thank you very much, Jonathan, for your time, and I wish you a lot of good luck there at KVCR; and it's great to great to finally meet you.

Jonathan Linden was a reporter at 91.9 KVCR in San Bernardino, California. He joined KVCR in July 2021 and served with the station till October 2022.