Deborah Robertson won a hard-fought race against challenger Mayor Pro Tem Ed Scott, but also shattered a barrier by becoming the city’s first Black mayor in Tuesday’s general election. With 100 percent of the votes counted, Robertson had 9,050 votes to Scott’s 6,888 giving her a commanding 56.78 percent majority.
When Robertson takes the oath of office in December, she’ll become the first Black mayor in the 101 years since Rialto was chartered as a municipality.
At a multiracial gathering of her supporters at El Kiosco Restaurant on Riverside Avenue Tuesday night, Robertson savored the re-election of President Barack Obama and credited her victory to her name recognition, reputation as a censuses builder and her involvement in the business and civic communities in a variety of roles.
“I’m tickled pink. This is a great day for America. Our nation is moving forward despite the pundits who have sought to divide us,” said Robertson.
“I’m pleased with my support and the help I had. I have vision, leadership ability and a commitment to lead Rialto through what will be a time of great opportunity,” she said. “We are facing challenges now, so it’s important to have strong leadership to steer us through them.”
Robertson says she wants to continue closing the achievement gap in schools, push for infrastructure and transportation improvements, boost job creation and provide a hospitable business environment.
“My top priority as mayor will be to strengthen Rialto’s economic base,” Robertson continued. “We need to build up our revenue, so we can provide all of our citizens public safety, quality businesses and the other essentials of a good life in Rialto.”
She called Rialto a ‘logistics powerhouse” critical to the movement of goods from west coast ports to the east and beyond.
“The possibilities are endless. The commerce the revenue the jobs, we are at the epicenter of goods movement. We are a key player. What moves through Long Beach and Los Angeles ports moves along Inland roadways east. I say rather than stop progress we need to be at the forefront of this exploding logistics environment.”
Robertson who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2008 didn’t make her chance to become the city’s first Black mayor a focal point of her campaign. But in an interview with The Black Voice News she recognized the historic significance.
“To have been able to make this happen is a turning point,” Robertson said, recognizing that many black Rialto residents who voted for her lived through a period of segregation where they couldn’t cast a ballot in an election.
Robertson has served on the Rialto City Council twelve years and has lived in Rialto for more than 20. She’s active in the East Rialto Kiwanis, the National Council of Negro Women, HIV/AIDS awareness and education program Brothers and Sisters in Action and other local organizations.
In addition to her elected seat on the Council, Robertson is the past Deputy District Director of External Affairs for the California Department of Transportation, Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
She retired from the State of California after 20 years, where she oversaw a budget of about $4 million.
Robertson won the mayor’s post in the face of what many of her supporters lamented as a blatant racial attack six days before voters went to the polls.
An election flyer was sent to the homes of registered voters in Rialto last week. It shows a picture of a young man with a gun flashing a gang sign. The message: "You can expect to see a whole lot more of us if Deborah Robertson gets elected to mayor." Attachments outlined the concerns of police and fire agencies. The controversial flyers were developed and paid for by the police and fire agencies who stand behind the ads.
"Race has nothing to do with it. The bottom line is we don't support Deborah Robertson for the race for mayor. She has not supported our organization or the Rialto Police Department," said Ricky Van Johnson.
Robertson said experience not division appeared to matter to voters in Rialto on Tuesday.
“I remain committed to working together, moving this city forward in the direction that is in the best interest of the citizens of Rialto, not what’s in the best interest of individuals or special interest groups who seek to divide us.
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