Former Riverside council candidate John Denilofs announces campaign for mayor

By Samantha Bartholomew

John Dave Denilofs, who ran unsuccessfully for Riverside City Council after making multiple racist social media posts, announced Sept. 4 that he will run for mayor.

Denilofs said he made his decision before Mayor Rusty Bailey announced Sept. 3 that he wouldn’t run for a third term in 2020.

According to The Press-Enterprise, the retired taxi driver said that, if elected, he would like the city to sell marijuana at the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry and would build a plaque to mark the fact that Enrique Marquez Jr., who pleaded guilty to supplying the weapons used in the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack but now wants to withdraw that plea, is from Riverside.

“It’s nothing to be proud of, but we should make it a tourist thing, a little monument to the people in San Bernardino, to say we’re Riverside and we’re sorry for our mistakes,” Denilofs said to The Press-Enterprise.

He also said he wants to give homeless people the option of moving to Martha McLean/Anza Narrows Park, which is along the Santa Ana River, or having their cars towed if they refuse and there’s a legal reason to tow the car.

In videos and recorded phone calls leading up to the 2016 presidential election, Denilofs argued that anyone who waves a Mexican flag in the United States should be killed, as should Muslims and “the people who made laws where it’s safe for Muslims.” 

He said he didn’t believe the statements he made, intending them to drive engagement on Facebook pages he ran. However, he has never apologized for the statements.

“We need somebody for mayor who’s been accused of being racist when everybody knows I’m not racist,” he said.

Denilofs finished fourth in the June race for Ward 7 with slightly more than 5% of the vote.