SAN BERNARDINO -- Another resident joined the crowded race for mayor on Thursday, saying his vision for the city centered on improving its image.

"We have to home in our major problem, and our problem is our negative reputation," said Jerry Arispi, 33, a recent graduate of Florida State University College of Law returning to his longtime home of San Bernardino. "People know us for our low (median) income, high crime, our bankruptcy, but we have great assets. We won't start attracting commerce and improving our revenue base unless we change how people look at us."

Ways to do that, Arispi said, include encouraging the arts and use of buildings like the Inland Center Mall and California Theater.

Jerry Arispi
Jerry Arispi

"Professors are being told, first, don't live in San Bernardino," said Arispi, whose husband teaches at Cal State San Bernardino. "No. 1, we've got to get people to feel safe -- there are certain nuisance crimes we can't tolerate... and we've got to give them pride in this city, which does have great assets."

Arispi also wants to give more loans to people improving their houses and adding solar panels to their roofs.

"What I would like is to see San Bernardino known as being a green city," Arispi said in an interview befre announcing his candidacy to a group of 30 supporters.

George Garcia said he had volunteered with several political campaigns before, and enthusiastically joined on when Arispi, a longtime friend, asked.

"The biggest thing is his excitement and that he's something new" said Garcia, of Cal State San Bernardino. "He has a fresh vision."

Garcia said Arispi's idea of living locally, shopping locally and eating locally particularly attracted him.

As a career, Arispi is working toward getting licensed to practice law in California, but he's focused on a mayoral race that he expects to win, he said.