S.E. Williams | Contributor
“His comments are not compliments or even propositions. They are declarations of ownership. They are threats. They are the intrusive thumb of male privilege and patriarchal violence, reminding me of my place as I move around within public space.”
– Alice Minium
Communities everywhere are fighting to control the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Planning for an economic future that looks bleak compared to how it appeared just a few short weeks ago, working to provide housing for those living on the streets and are most vulnerable to COVID-19, determining how to accommodate a population of suddenly unemployed residents, and networking to ensure the food insecure are fed.
These are uncertain times filled with life and death considerations, as people are dying in unprecedented numbers due to complications from the virus. Governments at all levels are being asked to step-up to the plate and deliver for their constituents in ways rarely considered before the COVID-19 pandemic.
During this unparalleled moment, municipal leadership in the City of San Bernardino, continues to be distracted by multiple allegations against its mayor. These allegations are sucking up all the oxygen in the city that should be used to focus on seeking viable solutions to the many imminent and pressing concerns. However, to ignore such alleged boorish and licentious behavior by the mayor would be a disservice to his accusers and for the women who have claims against him, an insult not only to them but to the #MeToo movement as well.
After having served as the councilmember for the city’s 3rd Ward, Mayor John Valdivia was elected mayor in November 2018. Since that time, however, the once popular politician is under increasing pressure to resign.
When former employee Jackie Aboud filed her claim against the mayor last week, her allegations were reflective of the other two sexual harassment claims against the mayor, and a fourth individual—her former co-worker, Don Smith, who though not sexually harassed—like Aboud and the other women, has also claimed Valdivia created a hostile work environment.
Some will say because Aboud was fired in early January she may be a disgruntled employee; however, anyone who knows the history of sexual harassment in the workplace are all too familiar with this typical “blame the accuser” mentality.
The allegations against Valdivia are both serious and concerning. In light of the current public health pandemic, the economic concerns the city will soon grapple with, and the need for a clear thinking and focused leader to help navigate the municipality toward an uncertain future—it is selfish of him to drag the constituents of San Bernardino through his messy legal battles.
A mayor who is more focused on covering his own rear end is not what San Bernardino needs at this time—at any time, for that matter.
The City of San Bernardino deserves a leader focused on the city, not on himself. Someone who can lead it through one of the worst crises in the nation’s history while also laying a foundation to keep the city vibrant and viable when the crisis is over.
The founder of “#MeToo,” Tarana Burke, said she founded the movement because there was a void in the community. There is a void in the City of San Bernardino—it needs a leader who is respectful of women and who has the ability to create a work environment reflective of the professional and ethical style of leadership voters hoped he would bring.
When Valdivia ran for mayor maybe he thought the city was seeking to revive its own version of the now cancelled TV show, Mad Men. But, it was not!
The city can not continue to harbor a purported serial-sexual-harasser, who refuses to see he has lost credibility and support because he is so blinded by his own self-importance. It is time for the mayor to do the best thing he can do for the city and resign.
Of course, this is NOT just my opinion . . . although, I’m still keeping it real.