A Student’s Perspective: A Conversation with Ronald Loveridge

By Benjamin Robinson

When Ron Loveridge talks, people listen. The former Mayor and City Councilman of the City of Riverside has been a local, State-wide, and national figure over a 30 plus year career in public service. Over that time, Riverside’s stature has grown in leaps and bounds with a strong higher education presence, a reputation for excellence in smart governance and innovation, and a role model city for other communities in Southern California’s Inland Empire. He effectively used positions of power and prominence, from a term as the President of the National League of Cities to a position on the California Air Resources Board, to bring Riverside’s perspective to a national and State audience that needs to hear his message of effective and sustained urban governance.

In speaking to USC students at last week’s Students Talk Back event, Loveridge’s career has come full circle as he returns to life as an academician at UC-Riverside’s Center for Sustainable Suburban Development. Over an hour plus interview and question and answer session moderated by our own Dr. Raphael Bostic of the Price School’s Bedrosian Center, Loveridge remarked on lessons learned in a long career in public service and answered students’ questions on a wide range of issues.

Mr. Loveridge spoke to how he sees issues of sustainability and gave his thoughts on the challenges and opportunities for the next Mayor of Los Angeles to really improve regional collaboration and engagement with Southern California’s many municipalities. Carefully implementing a new vision of LA’s future is significant for communities like Riverside, since LA’s success impacts the fortunes of the communities surrounding it. Loveridge refused to recognize sustainability as just an urban or suburban issue or even a partisan one in nature but more as a regional issue and a policy challenge that doesn’t lend itself to easy interpretations or amicable political solutions.

Despite Riverside’s reputation as a Republican stronghold, Loveridge has had a long and fruitful political career as a self-described “Robert Kennedy Democrat” and attributed his long career to smart campaigning, community involvement, and good political communication. It is hard to boil Mr. Loveridge’s talk down to one thing because so many interesting and important points were made but if forced to decide, this writer would say that sustainability, or any issue, is what you make of it. In a country hungry for answers on how we can govern better and improve outcomes for all people, Riverside and Ron Loveridge stands out to students, policy makers, and the community at-large as a paragon of the ideals of effective governance that we hope our civic leaders to espouse.