Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey said Tuesday that he will not seek re-election next year, ending an eight-year stint at the helm of city government.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve my hometown as its 17th mayor,” Bailey said. “It is also bittersweet to leave a position that was a goal since my youth. I am grateful to my supporters and staff, who have been faithful to me, my family and my pursuits all these years.”
The mayor said he will continue his civic activism in the nonprofit and educational spheres.
Bailey was elected mayor in 2012, following the retirement of longtime Mayor Ron Loveridge.
Bailey, a Riverside native and former U.S. Army officer, served as a city councilman from 2007 to 2012. The father of two worked as a history and government teacher at Poly High School during his five years on the council, which is considered a part-time job. Serving as mayor requires a full-time commitment.
Bailey made ending homelessness citywide a top goal, and during his watch, public-private partnerships have been formed to make that objective reachable, according to city officials.
The mayor also pushed for establishment of the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry, which is relying on a mix of state and private funds to get off the ground. The existing Riverside Main Library on Mission Inn Avenue will serve as the future center, and the library will be relocated two blocks away, at a project site now under development.
Though touted as a consensus builder, the mayor has periodically been at odds with a majority of the city council.
In February 2018, Bailey challenged a council decision to extend then-City Manager John Russo’s contract by five years — even though his existing retainer had two years before expiration.
Russo was lavished with expanded benefits and salary increases under his contract extension. The city even offered to back the mortgage on his house to ensure a preferential interest rate as an incentive for him to remain. But Bailey employed a rare mayoral veto over the council’s decision, calling it fiscally irresponsible.
The action led to a civil suit pitting the mayor against council members, which ended when Russo was booted several months later and a new chief administrator, Al Zelinka, was appointed under terms Bailey found acceptable.
“It is time for me to return to a more private life with my family and contribute to the city in other ways,” the mayor said. “The city is in a great position for another person to take the reins, and I look forward to encouraging and watching Riverside continue the positive momentum for future generations to come.”
There was no word regarding prospective candidates in the March 3 primary election.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: