The Raincross Group was founded in 1987 by a group of Riverside visionaries whose stated purpose was to “help the city develop leadership on important issues” (Roger Luebs, Press-Enterprise, 1987). Those first fourteen founding members were handpicked because they had “credibility in the community and were positive and future-minded.” (Press-Enterprise, 1987). They included Roger Luebs, Don Ecker, Dave Patton, Michael Van Daele, Joe Colladay, Bill Rich, Mike Burandt, Chris Carpenter, Steve Albright, Gordon Bourns, Pauline Brandon (McGuigan), Sue Mitchell, Bruce Bennett and James Davidson.
Though teased by Dan Bernstein in his July 3, 1987 Press column as “potentially venerable,” the group began with enthusiasm as they tackled the issue of seeking qualified candidates to run against current Mayor Ab Brown in the 1989 mayoral election.
“Even with everything Ab has given this community, we need more out of a mayor for the future,” vice-chair Bruce Bennett said in 1988. “We need more leadership, we need more consensus, we need strength, we need vision.”
Throughout the years the Raincross Group has tackled issues that they deemed important to the quality of life and leadership in the city. In 1993 they tackled the erosion of financial support for small non-profits. In 2001 they lobbied to move the City Council meetings to evening hours and pushed for a more proactive city manager. In 2002 they provided input on the Downtown Specific Plan and lobbied on the Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fees. In 2008 they aggressively undertook the refurbishment of the downtown library in hand by tendering their own plan for a 60,000 square-foot expansion, as well as advocating for the continued Renaissance redevelopment plan.
In recent years they have teamed with the Press-Enterprise and Charter Communications to hold an on-going series of debates for mayor and city council races. Some of the issues they have actively supported in the last few years include the UCR Medical School and the downtown library renovation.
The Raincross Group meets twice monthly to educate its members on current local issues and ascertain the interest on the part of the membership, which then develops positions which often lead to writing op-ed pieces for the newspaper, making presentations to the City Council or travelling to Sacramento to lobby for a point of view. Their goal of encouraging good civic leadership in Riverside means increased discussion of the issues, and they take this role very seriously. While rarely advocating for one particular political candidate, they often advocate for more participation if they feel there is negligible representation. They tackle issues of education, economic development, transportation, and quality of life as well as their most important focus; leadership and good governance. The Raincross Group now numbers close to fifty active and sustaining members from many walks of life throughout the community.