Reporting

Mayor Ron Loveridge leaves a storied legacy in Riverside

January 19, 2012 by Cheryl Getuiza


Mayor Loveridge, second from right

Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge is in his final months as the city’s leader.  After 32 years on the city council—18 of them as mayor—he’s decided it’s time to step down.

“It does seem hard to believe,” he said. “By the end of this term, I’ll be 74 years old.  My wife thinks it’s a good time to exit.”

All kidding aside, Loveridge said, “Riverside is at the top of its game,” so he feels comfortable retiring.

Under his leadership, Riverside was named 7th in the nation as the best city - in terms of jobs and economic development - by the International Community Forum. “Riverside is exciting and diverse.”

Loveridge also accomplished:

  • The restoration and reopening of the Mission Inn—the city’s iconic, downtown building, which helped revitalize downtown
  • He also restored the city’s two major parks, California Citrus State Historic Park and the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park
  • Maintaining a successful sister city program with eight sister cities
  • Achieving status as California's first "Emerald City" for Riverside's defined green action plan.

Understandably, news of his retirement sent shockwaves through the community.

“His heart is truly in doing what’s right for the city and not for some other reason,” said Riverside School Board Member Kathy Allavie.  “He really has put Riverside on the map.”

Allavie said the mayor has a way of creating the right teams. “He knows everybody, [and] he puts people together in very interesting combinations to get things done.”

“The mayor has been a strong, visionary leader who has always believed in Riverside’s leadership of the Inland Empire.  He has always pushed(people) to reach their best,” said Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck – who served as Riverside’s assistant city manager for seven years.

 “Dr. Loveridge is one of the most enlightened and committed public servants I have ever met,” said UC Vice Chancellor Emeritus Jim Erikson, who’s known the mayor for 27 years. “His global approach has strengthened our international business ties in Riverside. I am proud he’s been our mayor.”

Jack Clarke Jr., partner at Best Best and Krieger law firm, said Loveridge’s involvement with the League of California Cities also helped. “Cities around the country now know of Riverside because of one man.”

Twenty-five years ago, Loveridge supported Clarke’s father’s bid for council as the first black member.

“He was constantly looking for best practices whenever he traveled and brought those ideas here,” said Clarke. “He enunciated a vision, which over time flowered very successfully—that Riverside is a wonderful gem and should be a destination.”

Loveridge was not only passionate about changing his community, he wanted the state to succeed as well. “I was tired of going to conferences and having people snicker, smirk, dismiss California—we have a bright future.”

He wants the next mayor to be vocal to state leaders—so they recognize cities as partners not adversaries.

“There needs to be a respect of local government. Economic development takes place in cities. If cities don’t work the state doesn’t work,” Loveridge said. “We all agree there needs to be a better way of doing budgets. It’s not a question of simply cutting into services and increasing taxes, but making California work again.”

In retirement, Loveridge plans to return to teaching at UC Riverside. “It’s been an exceptional honor and opportunity, thank you Riverside.” Citizens will vote for a new mayor in June.

Cheryl Getuiza is a Communications Specialist at California Forward.