Councilwoman Deborah Robertson, in last Tuesday's mayoral election, defeated Councilman Ed Scott, a longtime colleague on the dais.
But for Robertson, 62, the election was less about making history than it was about rallying the city around the idea of returning Rialto to "a jewel" of the Inland Empire.
She believes she's the person to do just that.
"This community is a diverse community and I think they tend to vote according to...the person they feel some passion about," Robertson said.
At her home near Pepper Avenue and Base Line, surrounded by African-American art and books on black history, Robertson relaxed with friends and family Friday in the aftermath of an election that saw some of the dirty campaigning that she is accustomed to.
In 2008, the city's fire and police unions mailed fliers showing tattooed gangsters, in an effort to portray Rialto ready to explode with crime if voters elected Robertson over then-Mayor Grace Vargas.
This year, Robertson, who recently retired from Caltrans after 25 years, was the subject of a mailer campaign that showed her city health benefits, in an effort to portray her as a double-dipper.
Still, Robertson had a good laugh over the mailer.
"I really did thank them for putting this out," she said, "because I didn't have enough money to put out a flier (to) get my name out in the whole community."
Robertson, who moved to the city in 1988, has a wealth of experience in public service.
A 12-year council member, Robertson from 1990 to 1992 was a Rialto airport commissioner and a budget oversight advisory member in 1991.
Since 2002, she has served on the regional council of the Southern California Association of Governments, Council, or SCAG, representing Rialto and Fontana.
SCAG is the planning organization for a six-county region responsible for developing and adopting the Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Community Strategies.
In addition, Robertson has served on a number of other regional committees, including those related to economics and energy policy.
At Caltrans, she retired as the deputy district director of external affairs, overseeing Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
She earned a bachelor's degree in urban planning and studies from UC San Diego and a master's in public administration from City University of New York.
Robertson didn't hesitate in saying she will bring a different kind of leadership than Vargas, who had a reputation for being swayed by other council members when it came time to vote.
"There's a difference between Grace and I," she said. "Grace was there and Grace was led. I'm there and I'm very comfortable with leading."
Robertson pledges to bring transparency to City Hall, and says the top priorities are jobs, economic development, a healthy community and open space issues.
She supported outsourcing Rialto's water and wastewater service in a deal to bring millions of dollars for infrastructure improvements, which Robertson said is fundamental to Rialto's economic future, as it seeks to bring in businesses.
In trying to move the city forward, Robertson will be presiding over a City Council made up of men with whom she has locked horns on many occasions, a fact not lost her, as she laughed about past and future political battles.
"It's me and the boys," she said.