By Leo Cabral
Clarissa Cervantes just became the second openly LGBTQ+ person on the council and the first woman elected to represent ward 2 on the Riverside City Council.
It was a family affair for councilwoman Cervantes’ swearing-in ceremony July 13. Her daughter Autumn, Greg Cervantes Jr. and Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes conducted her Oath of Office.
Cervantes is succeeding Andy Melendrez’s 15 years as ward 2 representative.
“It’s really been a great experience for these past 15 ½ years,” Melendrez said. “I reacquainted with my family these past two weeks and it’s been fantastic. Thank you for supporting me and allowing (me) the opportunity.”
Community members crowded the City Council Chambers to support councilmembers Cervantes, Chuck Conder and Jim Perry in their appointments.
“I have a dear friend who once said to me, ‘Life is a ceremony and you are the medicine,’” councilmember Cervantes said. “And I believe it is powerful and beautiful how we, collectively as a community, work together to heal and to move forward. And it is an honor to represent you.”
Ward 2 covers the Eastside, Canyon Crest, University and Sycamore Canyon neighborhoods.
Conder, ward 4 representative, dedicated his reelection term to his late wife Sharon who died in her sleep in October 2018. He aims to focus on the city’s solvency and public safety regarding the homeless population during this term.
“I want to give thanks and glory to God, for without him I would not be here,” Conder said. “Many are aware that I’ve had a very difficult last three years. God has been my strength, my light (and) my shield, and I’ll continue to do my best for his glory.”
He plans to declare homelessness a public safety crisis in response to an attempted break-in, a stabbing and an increase in homeless people “swarming our neighborhoods and (bringing) a new wave of crime and violence with them.”
Ward 4 contains the Casa Blanca, Alessandro Heights, Mission Grove and Orangecrest communities.
Councilman Perry of ward 6 was the only candidate who ran unopposed.
“We strive for perfection but, quite honestly, it just isn’t possible,” Perry said. “But we try and, more often than not, we are successful. I’m not going anywhere, and I have no aspirations to run for any other elective office. There’s more than enough work here to keep me busy. I will continue to be accessible and responsive and will continue to focus on the betterment of neighborhoods, and ensuring equity for all of them.”
Perry promised to focus on his constituents’ concerns on homelessness and a comprehensive traffic plan to reduce speeding incidents throughout neighborhoods.
Ward 6 includes Ramona, Arlanza, La Sierra and La Sierra South.
Visit the City of Riverside’s Facebook page for a recorded video of the ceremony and council meeting.