A composite image featuring a photo of Riverside City Hall in the background with portraits of the three new council members in the foreground.
The Riverside City Council last night swore in three new members — Ward 1 Councilmember Philip Falcone, Ward 3 Councilmember Steven Robillard and Ward 5 Councilmember Sean Mill. (Portraits courtesy the city of Riverside)

The city of Riverside has three new council members following Tuesday evening’s swearing-in ceremony — Ward 1 Councilmember Philip Falcone, Ward 3 Councilmember Steven Robillard and Ward 5 Councilmember Sean Mill.

Falcone, who received 51% of the vote in a crowded field of five candidates, was sworn in by former Riverside Unified School District Trustee Kathy Allavie on his family’s Bible with his two sisters by his side.

“I know we have many tough decisions ahead, ones that I may vote in a way you like, ones that I may vote in a way you won’t like, but I hope that we can all just take a breath, turn down the heat of politics, and work together, and I know we are up for the challenge,” Falcone said after taking his seat on the dais. “Let’s get to work.”

Robillard, who received nearly 54% of the vote in a race against Warren Avery, was sworn in by his father Larry Robillard with his wife and mother by his side.

“To the residents of Ward 3, I am hopeful about the opportunities that lie ahead,” Robillard said after taking his seat on the dais. “I’m committed to tackling homelessness, collaborating with our public safety agencies, focusing on economic growth and improving our infrastructure. With your ongoing support and involvement, I will work every day to represent you with integrity and honor.”

Neither outgoing Ward 1 Councilmember Erin Edwards nor Ward 3 Councilmember Ronaldo Fierro sought reelection.

“It has been such an honor to serve the city of Riverside as the Ward 1 council member,” Edwards said. “Politics is a relay, but service is a vocation, and it is the very best one. I look forward to serving the city in new ways and working alongside all of you to ensure that Riverside is the city where everyone can thrive.”

“There’s gonna be some of this I don’t miss, obviously,” Fierro said. “But I am going to miss the opportunity to work with passionate people who want to make their city better, and I am confident that this council can do that moving forward.”

Mill, who narrowly defeated incumbent Gaby Plascencia with nearly 52% of the vote, was sworn in by Rancho Santiago Community College District Board of Trustees President Sal Tinajero with his wife and daughter by his side.

“I have said time and again, there is nothing wrong with Riverside that can’t be fixed by what’s right with Riverside,” Mill said after taking his seat on the dais. “And what’s right with Riverside is all of you that are in the audience and our fellow Riverside [residents]. It’s time to get to work.”

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Plascencia was not present during the swearing-in ceremony, though Mills, in his speech, thanked her for her service to the community.

“Public service is a sacrifice. It takes time away from home, time away from work and especially time away from family,” Mills said. “And while the councilmember and I didn’t necessarily see eye to eye, Gaby, I want you to know that I appreciate the sacrifice you made for the people of Riverside.”

Also sworn in were Ward 7 Councilmember Steve Hemenway and Lock Dawson who won re-election. Hemenway, sworn in by City Clerk Donesia Gause, ran unopposed, while Lock Dawson, sworn in by Judge David Bristow, handily defeated challenger Jessica Qattawi with nearly 78% of the vote.

“This is weird for me, because I was sworn in during the pandemic last time,” Lock Dawson said after taking her oath of office. “Two people were allowed in [the] chambers with me, my husband and my daughters came, so this is really fun to see you all there and to be part of something so fun.”

Immediately after the new council was seated at the dais, Councilmember Chuck Conder, who was participating remotely from Washington, D.C., made a motion to reconsider the council’s decision from earlier that afternoon extending the contracts of City Manager Charles M. Futrell and City Attorney Phaedra Norton. 

“Since the closing of this afternoon’s first session and the opening of your gavel a short time ago, I have had so many phone calls back here in Washington from people,” Conder said in introducing the motion. “People I had no idea that we’re concerned or considering issues going on from this afternoon, so at this point, I want to make a motion for reconsideration.”

The motion passed with council members Clarissa Cervantes, Jim Perry and Steve Hemenway voting against.

The ceremony was held just hours after the Riverside County Board of Supervisors received the official canvass of the March 5 election and declared those having the highest number of votes elected or nominated. The official results from across Riverside County can be found here.

A full recording of the meeting, including both the afternoon and evening sessions, can be found here on the city’s website.

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Alicia Ramirez is the publisher of TN News and the founder and CEO of its parent company TN News.