Candidates State Their Case at Chamber-Sponsored Forum

From left: Greg August, Sue Kristjansson, Carol Sullivan, Bill Zimmerman, Wallace Edgerton, Darcy Ku...

From left: Greg August, Sue Kristjansson, Carol Sullivan, Bill Zimmerman, Wallace Edgerton, Darcy Kuenzi, John F. Smith, Scott Mann.
Candidates for mayor and city council seats in Menifee stated their positions on key issues Wednesday in a relatively peaceful forum at Menifee Lakes Country Club.

Although there are marked differences in philosophy among the candidates, the participants generally were respectful during the forum, which was sponsored by Southern California Edison and the Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Eight of the nine candidates were present, with District 1 council candidate Nick Martin the only one absent. Each were given opportunities to make opening and closing statements and responded to questions posed by the moderator, Bob Duistermars.

Candidates were questioned in three groups, according to the office they are seeking. City council districts 2 and 4 are not up for re-election in the city's voting system. Those council members -- John Denver and Tom Fuhrman - listened from the audience.

Mayoral candidates

Darcy Kuenzi, a city council member during Menifee's first four years of cityhood, said she is proud of the council's accomplishments and wants to "continue the progress we're making." She reiterated her support of continued development, focusing on developing a "core downtown area."

"It's important to determine what kind of businesses we should bring to this area," she said. "We have a tremendous opportunity with both our rural areas and our urban development to make Menifee a unique, desirable place for people to come, now and in the future."

Kuenzi on the controversial topic of appropriate decorum during the public comments section of city council meetings: "The purpose of public comments is to allow people to bring an issue to the council that is not on the agenda. Intentionally ridiculing council members and pitting members against each other should not be allowed."

Kuenzi works in the office of County Supervisor Marion Ashley and is a former CEO of the Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce. She said she "has a regional perspective and the background and knowledge to represent this city."

Scott Mann, a former city council member and current member of the Menifee Union School District governing board, said he believes Menifee "needs stronger leadership than it has. I've devoted my life to public service. As mayor, I will bring these collective experiences to City Hall."

Mann said that "with the right infrastructure, we can attract the right businesses and services."

"We need an economic plan that will foster engineers, not cashiers," said Mann, who would like to see large corporations come to town rather than simply small retail businesses. "I'm absolutely, unequivocally in favor of fast tracking those kind of businesses in Menifee. I would dangle every incentive in front of them."

Mann on the subject of decorum in council meetings: "When speakers come to the podium, they have a constitutional right to speak on any topic. To the extent that slurs or combative language are used ... as a public servant, you've got to have a thick skin. It would have to be a severe situation for me to gavel somebody out and clear the room."