Jim Penman missed being a native son of the Golden West when his Mississippi-born mother refused to "give birth to a damn Yankee" and flew back to Jackson, Mississippi from San Bernardino for the occasion. Approximately two months later, Jim became a resident of San Bernardino County.
Jim went through the San Bernardino City Unified School District from kindergarten at Roosevelt Elementary School to Warm Springs, to Highland Jr. High and to Pacific High School where he graduated in 1965. In high school he earned his varsity letter in cross-country running and served in the school's house of representatives. He was also President of his church youth group, the Luther League at Highland Avenue Lutheran Church during his senior year.
Jim worked his way through college as a firefighter with the Muscoy Fire Protection District. In 1969, he graduated from Cal State San Bernardino where he majored in history and served as A.S.B. President in his junior year and Chairman of the College Judicial Board in his senior year. After college, he completed his active duty military service and worked as Administrative Assistant to Dr. John Pfau, President of the California State University San Bernardino. He also served two terms as President of the University Alumni Board in the 1980's.
At the age of 23, Jim was appointed Executive Director of the Home of Neighborly Service on Mt. Vernon Avenue in San Bernardino. The "Home", founded in 1922, is a settlement house of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and a member agency of the Arrowhead United Way. Living in the Director's apartment, upstairs at the "Home", Jim served as Boy Scout Master, coached track, was advisor to the M.E.C.H.A. Congresso, the Royal Counts, Las Originals and several other groups of Black and Hispanic young people while managing the agency and supervising the staff. During this period he also served as a Commissioner and Chairman of the San Bernardino City Police Commission and as a member of the San Bernardino City Human Relations Commission. While Director of the Home of Neighborly Service, Jim attended law school at night.
In 1979, Jim earned his Juris Doctorate from Western State University, College of law, passed the bar exam on his first try and was in private practice for seven years before being elected City Attorney in 1987. His private practice included civil, municipal, criminal, business and family law. In April 1986, a poll of its readers published by the San Bernardino Sun newspaper, named Jim "The Best Lawyer in the Inland Empire." He is a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, the American Bar Association, the State Bar of California, the San Bernardino County Bar Association the International Municipal Lawyers Association and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. Jim is now in the first year of his fifth, "uneventful", four-year term as City Attorney. His present term expires March 3, 2008.
Jim is a member of the Board of Directors of the Arrowhead United Way and serves as Parliamentarian for, and a board member of Footprinters, Chapter # 67, a law enforcement/ business support group. He also chairs the Mayor's ad hoc Courthouse Committee. He is a member of Lutheran Church of Our Savior; the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce; American Legion Post # 777; the Inland Empire Civil War Roundtable; the Kiwanis Club of San Bernardino; San Bernardino Lodge # 178, F & AM; the High Twelve (noon) Club; the Anglo-Hellenic Education and Progressive Association; the Shamrock Club, and Elks Lodge # 836.
Jim is married to Judi Penman, who is the Executive Vice-President of the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the San Bernardino City Unified School District Board of Education. Jim has two sons, Mark who lives in San Bernardino and Andrew who is deceased. He has two step-children, Judi's son and daughter, Tommy and Jyll, both of San Bernardino. Jim and Judi live on Marshall Blvd. in San Bernardino.
Jim's hobbies include hiking; camping; target shooting; studying history - - particularly of the American colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the American West, the Mexican Revolution; and touring battlefields outside City Hall.