Political newcomer elected mayor of bankrupt San Bernardino

Political newcomer Carey Davis was elected mayor of bankrupt San Bernardino in a runoff Tuesday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Voters in San Bernardino elected a political newcomer and certified public accountant as mayor of the bankrupt city.

Carey Davis was chosen Tuesday to take the helm at a particularly rough moment for San Bernardino, leaving him to wrestle with crime problems and the loss of businesses, as well as the issues that contributed to the bankruptcy, such as the city’s costly pension obligations and an evaporating tax base.

Davis received 56% of the vote, beating former city councilwoman and business owner Wendy McCammack, who received 44%. Of the more than 77,000 registered voters in San Bernardino, just over 11,000 — 14% of registered voters — cast a ballot in Tuesday’s runoff election.

The pair faced off Tuesday after they emerged as the two top vote-getters among 10 candidates in a November election.


McCammack was on the city council for 13 years but was recalled from her council seat on the same day she got the most votes for mayor. The recall effort also ousted the longtime city attorney, James Penman. Another councilman targeted by the recall, John Valdivia, held his seat.

McCammack had been criticized as being part of the leadership that ushered San Bernardino into bankruptcy, but she countered throughout the campaign that she had been a voice of opposition on the council, pushing for fiscal responsibility. She also argued that her experience as a businesswoman would help recruit new businesses and foster economic growth.

Davis, an accountant working in Los Angeles, campaigned on his work experience that he argued could help him clean up the city’s finances. Also, his status as an outsider could help temper the city’s often-brash politics.

Two council races were also held Tuesday.

Henry Nickel, who had been a candidate for mayor, was elected in a special race to fill the seat left by Chas Kelley, a councilman and mayoral candidate, who resigned as part of a guilty plea for lying on campaign finance documents. Councilman Fred Shorett was also reelected to the council seat he has held since 2009.

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