(Rialto, Calif.) She is not from the generation that made Twitter-speak common, but Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson certainly knows her way around a hashtag.
High schoolers and young voters have taken Mayor Robertson’s re-election slogan of #RialtoPride and soon it morphed it into a new nickname for the incumbent mayor — #MayorGetItDoneRobertson.
Mayor Robertson is running for her second term as mayor, and fifth term in Rialto city government. Election Day is November 8. She is also Rialto’s first Black Mayor.
Mayor Robertson chuckled about the name given to her originally by some Rialto High School students after spending the day with her during a mock city council. It shows that beyond economic development and crime statistics, Mayor Robertson – a nearly 30-year resident – has a deep-rooted pride in her city.
“I feel the negative images of cities are often portrayed in TV shows such as ‘Cops,’ “Mayor Robertson said. “Often you see a negative image, yet crime continues to decrease in Rialto. But negatives get the program ratings.”
Mayor Robertson pointed out that in the past five years, violent crime in Rialto has steadily declined and according to city-data.com, Rialto fell below the national average in 2014 and crime continues to drop. Rialto now ranks among the top half in safest communities in San Bernardino County, city-data.com also shows. The unemployment rate in Rialto has steadily dropped since 2013, according to homefact.com and the rate is now at seven percent.
Raised in a military community in San Diego, Mayor Robertson said she learned civic pride at an early age. When new kids came to her elementary school and turned their nose up, she quickly set them straight.
“I grew up in a military town and trying to assimilate into an existing group is stressful,” Mayor Robertson said. “Kids would come in and put us down. Most kids would just listen and feel bad. My friend and I were equalizers. We told them if they didn’t like it, go back to where they came from.”
It was at this mock city council day a year ago that the idea of promoting “Rialto Pride” was initiated. Mayor Robertson said students were starting to ask questions, including why some people weren’t more positive about Rialto.
“I told them, ‘If you don’t stand up for Rialto, who is going to stand up for Rialto?’ “Mayor Robertson said. “You can lead or you can be led. That’s your choice.”
She told the students to challenge anyone with a negative image of their city. In turn, the teens put out the hashtag #RialtoPride and it immediately began trending among local students. The conversations started to center around why they love Rialto and a movement was begun.
For more information about Mayor Deborah Robertson go to: http://www.DeborahRobertson.org.
About Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson
Deborah Robertson was elected Mayor of Rialto in November 2012 – the latest achievement in a distinguished public service career that has included 12 years on the Rialto City Council, leadership positions at the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG), and more than 20 years with the California Department of Transportation.
Under Mayor Robertson’s leadership, Rialto has gained regional and national recognition for innovation in the areas of public-private partnerships, business development and job creation. The City’s refinancing and restructuring of its water and wastewater operations has become a model for other communities in California, pumping millions of dollars into the local economy.
Mayor Robertson retired from Caltrans in 2011, as Deputy District Director of External Affairs. A native Californian, she holds an undergraduate degree in Urban Planning from the University of California, San Diego, a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the City University of New York Bernard Baruch College and is a National Urban Fellows recipient. She is also a scholarship recipient and past participant of the Southern California Leadership Network.
Mayor Robertson has two children and six grandchildren, that are the joy of her life.