Two officials from City of San Bernardino shared their experiences on best practices in city government with representatives from cities across the state at a conference organized by the League of California Cities. City Attorney Sonia Carvalho, Partner at Best, Best, and Krieger, led a panel that included San Bernardino Council Member Damon Alexander, Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Phil Bacerra, and Pomona Council Member Steve Lustro.
The panel featuring San Bernardino discussed the different forms of city government in California, such as a mayor-council model or council-city manager format. Panelists discussed how elected officials must learn their city’s policies and rules in order to effectively and responsively serve their constituents.
In 2016, San Bernardino residents voted to change their city charter, including changing from a mayor-council model to a council- city manager form of government.
“With San Bernardino’s recent transition, we have a unique insight into city organizational structures that most cities don’t,” said San Bernardino Council member Damon Alexander. “This experience is something our colleagues from around the state can learn from.”
“Excited, energized, and passionate newly elected council members want to dive into city work. However, excitement often turns into frustration, when they hear “you can’t do it that way,” “it’s not in the budget,” “you need council approval,” or “we don’t do it that way,” said Carvalho. “Success comes when you combine council member training with their passion and persistence.”
Alexander, Bacerra, and Lustro shared their experience balancing city policies while also creatively getting things done.
“Working at the speed of government is often frustrating,” said Alexander. “But in my two years on the Council, I already can see so much that we have accomplished. What excites me most is the change that is still to come.”
The conference, held in Long Beach from September 7-9, brought together over 2,000 California municipal government officials to discuss solutions to current issues, upcoming state legislation, and ballot measures that impact cities and their residents.
Founded in 1898, the League of California Cities collectively advocates on behalf of cities through strategic outreach that informs and educates the public, policymakers, and opinion leaders. They also offer education and training programs designed to teach city officials about new developments in their field and to exchange solutions to common challenges facing cities.