Riverside Ward 2 Council Election: Highest Turnout in Years!

The 2017 Ward 2 council has highest election turnout in years: 20%!

Over the last 12 years the voter turnout for ward 2 council elections has been low, averaging less than 18% of eligible voters.  The low water mark was an almost LA bad turnout of 16% in Melendrez’s uncontested run in 2013.  This year’s council election found about 20% of University voters turning in ballots to voice their opinion; a turnout better than the last two ward 2 council elections.  It’s still disconcerting that only about 4000 people hold sway over our ward and city direction.  There are about 45,000 people living in ward 2.

Kevin Dawson

With 12 year incumbent Andy Melendrez carrying the torch of office, challengers Kevin Dawson and Jon Harris attracted a good bit of attention.  Dawson, a long time Riverside activist with deep connections to the community and University Neighborhood fielded a grass roots effort to move from the

Jon Scott Harris

public comment podium to the council dias.  Harris, a pastor with congregation on the Eastside pressured with his street credentials battling street violence.

Still, Melendrez prevailed with 57% of the vote; enough to win cleanly avoiding an expensive and time consuming run-off election in the fall.

For our Neighborhood, I fear that it will be status-quo.  We have many opportunities and needs here in the University.  Engaged council leadership will be critical to facilitating the discussion and lending direction to the solutions.  Andy will continue to be our councilman, I hope with a focused, accessible, and engaged prospective.  Andy, congratulations!

Let me know what you think of this status quo. Comment or email your views.

Remember, it’s our neighborhood!





Lack of Funding puts Wilcox’s North District Arena on the Skids

UCR chancellor Kim Wilcox has finally come to Jesus.  He has given up the idea of a North District Arena.  The state doesn’t have enough money for essential educational services. The city of Riverside doesn’t have money to donate to UCR, and UCR alumni aren’t going to pony up $300 million to build a sports arena either.

From my view, living in the University Neighborhood, I say forget about fancy sports arenas until UCR gets their house in order.  They need teaching buildings, student housing, a realistic plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and an open campus that welcomes the city.

The traffic impact, with the existing road system, on our neighborhood from an 6 or 8000 seat arena would be catastrophic.  If arena access were along Blaine St. the section from the freeway to Rustin would need major attention.  Access from the Watkins side also presents significant challenges.  I would want to see a little out of the box thinking, perhaps a reversible lane system on Blaine or MLK to move traffic out and onto the 91/60/215 as quickly as possible.  Or use the Ghost Train as a shuttle.

It would be an interesting and challenging project.  For now we don’t have to worry about it!