The battle for the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisor Third District seat officially began Monday following San Manuel Tribal Chairman James Ramos’ announcement that he intended to run against incumbent Neil Derry.
Ramos made the announcement before a group of friends and supporters, according to a written statement released by Ramos.
“Over the past several months, I have received numerous phone calls from leaders in our community asking that I consider running for the Board of Supervisors," Ramos explained through the written statement on why he decided to run.
And after Third District Supervisor Neil Derry was accused of felony perjury and filing campaign documents that failed to report a $5,000 contribution, Ramos said the call for his candidacy gained a sense of urgency, he said.
“After discussing the idea with many leaders who I respect, and with my family, I have decided to announce today that I am a candidate for supervisor,” Ramos said Monday.
On April 26, the Attorney General’s office filed a complaint against Derry accusing him of felony perjury and failing to report a $5,000 contribution from Arnold Stubblefield-Highland Town Shops. Derry is also accused of failing to report Stubblefield as a contributor, which is a misdemeanor.
"The people of San Bernardino County have been let down time and time again," Ramos said. "Public faith in our institutions and elected officials is crucial in our democracy. The people cannot have faith in their government when key government officials are being indicted and being forced to recuse themselves from important duties and votes due to legal problems."
Soon after the announcement, the Derry camp released its own statement.
Referring to Ramos as the San Manuel Casino Boss, Derry called for Ramos to release his personal income and property tax records. He challenged the tribal chairman to prove he’s has been paying state or local taxes, citing a Los Angeles Times report that that his tribal chairman predecessor did not.
“Is Mr. Ramos a tax scofflaw too?” Derry wrote.
“Third District residents won’t stand for a Leona Helmsley-style politician who believes that ‘taxes are only for the little people,’ ” the statement continues. “It’s time for Casino Boss James Ramos to show his financial cards and release his tax records for public inspection.”
Derry also questioned whether Ramos was eligible to serve as an elected leader of a ‘sovereign tribal nation’ with a separate court system.
“An elected official cannot serve two masters,” he said. “How can Mr. Ramos be held accountable for his actions when he is protected by his own tribal courts and is receiving lucrative special interest tax exemptions that are available to almost no one else in San Bernardino County?”
Ramos is an elected member of the San Bernardino Community College Board of Trustees. He holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of Redlands.
He has served on numerous boards and organizations promoting business, economic and social opportunities in the greater San Bernardino area.
Ramos claimed to have the support of several local leaders, council members and public safety officials, including former third District Supervisor Dennis Hansberger, Highland City Council member Penny Lilburn, San Bernardino Mayor Patrick Morris, San Bernardino Police Chief Keith Kilmer, Redlands Mayor Peter Aguilar, Redlands City Councilman Jon Harrison and Redlands Police Chief Jim Bueermann.