By Erik Galicia
Over a week after Election Day, it seems Patricia Lock Dawson, Riverside Unified School District trustee, will be the next mayor of Riverside.
Dawson led Andy Melendrez, Ward 2 City Councilman, by a wide margin as soon as counting began. Her lead widened by Nov. 12 with 55,895 votes to Melendrez’s 38,834 votes. Almost 65% of the vote has been processed.
“The most up-to-date count from the Registrar of Voters shows that our lead is decisive and large enough that I will be elected Riverside’s next mayor,” Dawson said in a statement Nov. 12. “I want to thank my family, friends, supporters and all of the voters of Riverside who honored me with their trust and vote.”
Dawson commended Melendrez and said she looks forward to working with him and the City Council.
Philip Falcone, a Dawson campaign worker, reported that Dawson was cautious and refrained from declaring victory for over a week due to the number of ballots remaining to be counted. He also said via text Nov. 9 that Melendrez contacted Dawson to concede and congratulate her, only to call back shortly afterward and retract his concession.
Although Melendrez said during the week of Election Day that his campaign would wait for all votes to be counted before he makes a decision, the Ward 2 councilman did not respond to multiple attempts to reach him.
Although the candidates held some similarities in their plans for the city, their views about finances and economic growth differed.
Dawson argued the city’s use of bonds to pay off looming pension obligations will not work in the long run. She proposed refinancing existing debt and balancing the budget in a manner similar to the way the RUSD budget is and has argued the city is facing bankruptcy in the coming years.
The school board member also plans to tap into the area’s green sector to boost Riverside’s economy and attract higher-paying jobs.
She campaigned to tackle homelessness through a regional approach that would keep homeless people from coming into Riverside from surrounding cities, as well as working with nonprofits on homelessness prevention and exit strategies.
“I am eager to begin working together for the people of Riverside to improve our quality of life and make our city an even better place for all of us to call home,” Dawson said.
More information will follow as election results are updated.