An Interview with Jacqueline Elizalde About Her call for Pomona City Government Transparency

By Julian Lucas | Revised 05/07/2019

Jacqueline Elizalde is a union shop steward for Teamsters Local 1932 and works for the County of San Bernardino. In most recent, Jacqueline was appointed to be a California Democratic Delegate for Assembly member Freddie Rodriguez of the 52nd district.

Ms. Elizalde is no stranger to Pomona. She ran for city council in the 2018 elections. Having only 6-8 weeks to campaign vs her opponent who had one year she lost the elections by only about 60 votes. Although she had no desire to do a re-count, Jacqueline continues to make waves in the political arena.


How long have you lived in Pomona? You were an appointed commissioner for the city of Pomona at one point, how long did you serve? 

Yes, for over 15 years we've raised a beautiful family of five in southwest Pomona. My children have gone to both charter and PUSD schools. Some are now off to college and I love to tell everyone that you can raise a beautiful successful family in Pomona. 

To what extent would you say you were a commissioner? 

I was appointed by what was back then our District 2 City Council member, Freddie Rodriguez, who is now our State Assembly member for District 52. Back in 2010 was my first appointment serving as a Library Board of Trustees Commissioner. I had the honor to continue serving as a commissioner for a total of seven years. In a most recent council meeting I was presented with a Goddess of Pomona statue; the highest honor one can receive for serving the city of Pomona.

What was your experience like when you were a commissioner at the Pomona Public Library?

In all the years of my career and public service I would have never envisioned dealing with the closing of a department. During my first year as a trustee, we received noticed that the library was closing, and all staff had received layoff pink slips. A public outcry quickly created momentum to save our precious library. A group of educators, lawyers, students, leaders, business partners and everyone who had an interest in the library came forward to support. That is the point at which a political advocacy group called Save Our Pomona Public Library was created to fight this ongoing battle.


What does a commissioner’s training entail? Is the commissioner training the same as it has always been?

Generally, there is no training provided to serve as a commissioner. What is preferred that you bring some type of knowledge, experience or have some background to the area you are appointed to. However, for legalities the city attorney does provide detailed mandatory training on Ethics and the Brown Act for all commissioners and elected officials. 

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What I have noticed recently, some of our appointed commissioners are those who have created favors for city council, helped campaign and or gave financial campaign contributions during elections. This was never the case before and sadly these individuals are not always equipped or experienced.

What is your experience and knowledge of the Brown Act? Is there a fine line using social media platforms? 

As a commissioner you are made aware to not ever violate the Brown Act as it is considered a crime. The training on this subject matter is very clear and there should be no excuse why one should violate the act. I wouldn’t necessarily say there is a fine line, if you don’t hold a quorum, social media outlets are a great resource for public participation.

Has there ever been anyone that has ever been prosecuted for being in violation of the Brown Act? 

To my knowledge, no. Violations of the Brown Act although very common, are hard to prove while others are difficult to prosecute. Most recently I called for action by presenting to the City Council a detailed report of an occurred violation conducted by four members of the Historical Preservation Commission. It appears they have been attempting to push an agenda to save the Pomona Stables by having discussions without any public input and or participation.


Where did the quorum take place? Meaning was this an unofficial meeting held by the commissioners? 

There is an application called Nextdoor and some commissioners go onto this app to discuss several issues influencing the city of Pomona. It happens that Pomona Stables was a previous agenda item that was discussed at their monthly Pomona Historical Preservation Commission meeting. However, in addition to the fact that they discussed a prohibited issue due to a held quorum, their views reflected a pre-determination and it included four commissioners on the discussion thread which clearly violates the Brown Act. Prior to this they ranted via social media their ongoing support to save the Pomona Stables and felt the need to influence only a small minority group through media outlets and excluded the public at large.


You mentioned “push the agenda” do you feel the commissioners have the city of Pomona’s best interest in mind or do you feel otherwise? 


I wouldn't necessarily say that the commissioners don't have the city's best interest in mind. I believe that sometimes certain members of the political establishment forget why and who they serve. As a former commissioner I would have never ripped the public’s right to attend, observe and participate in such meetings.    

Per the Brown Act: “Every regular meeting of a legislative body of a local agency including commissions, or boards must be preceded by a posted agenda that advises the public of the meeting and matters to be transacted or discussed. The agenda must be posted at least 72 hours before the regular meeting in a location freely accessible to members of the public.”

There were 4 commissioners that deprived the public of information to which it is entitled to. It disheartens me to know that our public officials who are entrusted with the vital responsibility to govern our city, feel that they may conduct business in secrecy. 


Community trust is important, and conversations enhance transparency.  Do you feel the Brown Act limits free speech Does it increase or decrease trust of the community? 

Absolutely not, the Brown Act enhances transparency and makes sure that members of the public are always engaged, informed and therefore allowing them to participate in government business. It creates a trustworthy space for members to come forward and voice their concerns at large rather than having to feel that they are not part of their community.