In a city that had fallen into bankruptcy, where confidence had plummeted as crime rose, the election was cast as a decisive moment for San Bernardino.
And Tuesday the voters spoke up, pushing out the longtime city attorney — a prominent figure first elected to the job in 1987 — and a city councilwoman who nonetheless emerged as the leading vote-getter in the race for mayor.
Proponents of the recall effort hailed the election as a victory.
"It gives San Bernardino hope that things can get better and will get better," said Scott Beard, a leader of the recall effort. "We are going to have wholesale change in our city."
In an off-year election, voters across California also decided on initiatives dealing with a host of issues. Voters in Stockton, another bankrupt and crime-ridden city, endorsed a sales tax that would increase revenue to bolster the city's public safety operations. In Sunnyvale, voters approved gun restrictions that would put the relatively safe city at the forefront of a nationwide conversation on firearms regulation.
In San Bernardino, where 10 people were running for mayor, top finisher Councilwoman Wendy McCammack heads to a February runoff with Carey Davis, a political newcomer and accountant who climbed to prominence in the election, particularly after he was endorsed by the local newspaper.