Kim Calvin Readies for S.B. Sixth Ward Seat
By Dianne Anderson
Winning the Sixth Ward seat during the pandemic means that Kimberly Calvin is coming into a much different reality than when she first hit the campaign trail before Covid-19 shocked the world.
In December, she gets sworn in after the General Election, which gives her some time to get rooted and prepared in the city’s affairs.
The goal is to figure out how to kick the city into gear again, and where to find funding.
“It’s not going to be walking in as it would have been if there was never a COVID-19. As I’m told the budget was close to being balanced, and then Covid hit,” she said.
Calvin is concerned about the human impact for the overall community, but she also worries about the economics of her Sixth Ward, and the prospect of being millions over-budget.
Today, she spends a lot of time in what she calls “councilperson college,” starting with the budget. She is learning how the city’s allocations are determined, as well as its many constraints.
There is a lot of talk around Measure Z, the quarter-cent sales tax passed by voters, and implemented in 2007 that is due to lapse in 2022. The tax has reportedly brought in $80 million over ten years since inception. If the council votes to place it on the November ballot, and if that tax is increased, it could help alleviate the budget burden.
But through the pandemic, she said it’s been hard to watch the devastating impact on many businesses that may not come back into operation, especially under a gross misuse of funding allocations through the Paycheck Protection Program.
Many of the nation’s small businesses that applied did not receive the funding needed to hire back employees.
“Mega-corporations have sucked up the money,” she said. “It’s disheartening that all of the small businesses that keep the community thriving did not have an opportunity to receive some of those funds.”
Akoma Unity Center, where she serves as Executive Director, also applied, but they were not able to get the funds. “We sit right here in the community, and those funds would directly impact the community,” she said.
High schoolers will soon be looking for work while they’re in school, while going to San Bernardino Valley College or attending CSUSB. Normally, she said they turn to small businesses for community jobs that may not be there.
“So we all have to work together to bring some of that [PPP and PPE] money to our state and to our cities,” she said.
She said the city will receive $3 million federal funding through Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program, which are earmarked in spending for specific community programs, but may not help the general budget.
Coming in the door, her priority is for the interest of the Sixth Ward, but also for the city as a whole.
“We can’t remain an archaic city,” she said. “Every other community and city is growing around us, and we’re not. What do you want to do, dissolve? Allow someone to come in and take over?”
Calvin has developed and provided numerous soft skills enhancing after school programs, along with parenting classes for health and wellness outreach at Akoma Unity Center.
It’s been heartbreaking to watch the carnage of this pandemic in the community, but she is encouraged to see how families are reaching out to each other even from a distance.
Eventually, she said the community will reconnect again in person. There will be a time when the masks and the gloves come off, and her center reopens for their scholars.
“We’re going to need to have a lot of professional mental health assistance and guidance there. That’s not even to mention what we’ll have to face in getting our scholars back up to par,” she said.
At the city level, the online tools the community is now becoming more familiar with may open up an opportunity for residents to communicate with city council members via a podium video chat. It could also help those without transportation to be able to access the meetings.
When new council members come in, they are allowed to choose certain commissioners. While campaigning, she heard from a smart youth demographic, who spoke passionately about their concerns for their city.
She is calling for volunteers. She said they have a long list of great commissions that need good strong voices at the table.
“Commissioners have to be vocal, and want to speak up for their neighbors,” she said.
“We have so much untapped intellectual capital within the sixth ward and San Bernardino, and those are the folks I’m looking for.”
For more information on joining a commission, email Ms. Calvin at Kimbo0219@gmail.com