Riverside Unified School District Board of Trustees member Patricia Lock Dawson took an early lead Tuesday in the race to fill the open Riverside mayor’s seat.
Early vote totals showed Dawson with 59.5%, while City Councilman Andy Melendrez, who is in his fourth term, notched 40.4%, a difference of 8,385 votes.
The two candidates are vying for the post being vacated by Rusty Bailey, who announced last year that he would not seek a third term as mayor.
Melendrez ran on a platform that spotlighted his work to expand arts programs, upgrade parks and promote sustainable growth throughout the city, where his family has roots going back over a century. If elected, he would be the first Hispanic mayor of Riverside.
“I’m running for mayor to solve tough problems, improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods and help navigate Riverside through the economic and public health challenges created by COVID-19,” Melendrez said in campaign literature. “I’m ready to put in the time and the energy to get things done.”
Melendrez, who is a sociologist and owner of a vocational rehabilitation facility, says he has put an emphasis on expanding public- private partnerships and supported refurbishing dilapidated buildings, as well as eliminating blight.
Dawson, who is also a Riverside native, touted her recent accomplishments on the school board as strong indicators of how she would handle the mayor’s job, including pushing to ensure a balanced budget for RUSD, expanding technical training programs and organizing the “Comprehensive Safe Schools Plan,” which involves a partnership with the Riverside Police Department to secure campuses.
“As Riverside’s next mayor, I will lead our city’s economic development efforts by implementing a robust economic development plan, shifting towards a much more proactive model to attract and retain businesses that will create quality, high-paying jobs with great benefits,” she says in her campaign literature.
Dawson, an environmental scientist, has expressed concern that the city’s finances are foundering due to revenue losses and widening expenses that could push Riverside into municipal bankruptcy by 2023. She is advocating greater fiscal responsibility and disciplined spending.
Like Bailey, the candidate also favors strengthening homeless relief programs.
More information about the Melendrez campaign is available at www.andymelendrez.com/.
The portal for Dawson’s campaign is patriciaforriverside.com/.
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