Newcomer Kelly Erving Among Rialto Council Candidates
By Daniella Masterson
The Rialto City Council race pits two incumbents – one elected, one appointed – against a former congressman and two others.
Dr. Kelly Erving is the only African American candidate jumping into the heated race.
Erving is among a growing number of Black women running for office nationwide. Inspired in part by Vice President Kamala Harris, the Black social justice movement, and the lack of diverse representation in politics, Black women, like Erving, are no longer settling for being hidden figures in the Blue Wave (Democratic voters). They want leadership.
A Democrat, Erving has never held an elected office. She is a young progressive seeking change and reform by a spirit of inclusion and challenging “the old guard,” she said, subtly referencing opponents who have taken multiple tours in office.
“I want to take the approach that I am not a politician,” said Erving.
“I really want people to get involved in their communities,” she said, adding that if elected, she would work to get residents engaged in the process so they can influence decisions made by and about their city to build a more vibrant city.
Holding a doctorate in Education in Organizational Leadership, Erving has described herself as the “Go-To” expert in operations, policy analysis, and the implementation of the county, state, and federal programs and policies in her current role working for the Department of Public Social Services in Los Angeles County.
If elected, she said she would work on new strategies to allay voters’ concerns about the rise in homelessness, crime, and push for business growth. She said she would support efforts to ensure a living wage for workers in the public and private sectors.
Although she is endorsed by political heavyweights Rialto Mayor Deborah Robinson, State Senator Connie Leyva, the Inland Empire Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and the San Bernardino County Democratic Party, she will have to convince voters that those high-flying endorsements brings more to the table than her well-known opponents.
After being in office at the local, state, and federal levels, Black voters may have a comfort level with former Congressman Joe Baca that they don’t have with a newcomer.
Baca is a polished politician who is accustomed to winning. When asked about flipping political parties, Baca was reported saying that he switched his affiliation to the Republican Party because of his “core Christian” and pro-business values. But switched his affiliation back to the Democratic Party because of his voting record on labor. His switch back to the Democratic Party may be truer to his working-class roots, and it also provides wind on his back to run again.
Baca is vying for the seat his son, Joe Baca, Jr. vacated when he became a San Bernardino County Supervisor. Baca’s son is popular with voters and has a bounty of political equity. All of the San Bernardino County Supervisors endorse Baca.
Baca said he has a vision to increase economic growth, create quality jobs and improve public safety.
“A lot of people have asked, ”Why am I running?” said Baca delightfully. “You’ve already been to the top of the mountain. You’ve already been a United States Congressman. But everything is local. I want to make Rialto better and improve the quality of life for the residents.”
Baca said he can accomplish more because he has experience and relationships at the state and federal level to bring much-needed resources to Rialto.
“I don’t have to go to our congressman,” he said. “I can go directly to the department. For example, with housing, Maxine Waters is in housing. I’ve worked with her for years. I can go to her.”