Kuenzi, Kristjansson Victims of Apparent Smear Campaign
Menifee City Council members Darcy Kuenzi and Sue Kristjansson Monday denied allegations against the...
The fliers do not voice support of any opponent in the Nov. 6 city election but clearly are intended to turn the public against Kuenzi, who is running for mayor, and Kristjansson, who is running for re-election as a council member in District 1.
The flier concerning Kuenzi includes a photo of her with her head and hands locked in a pillory -- a wooden frame in which prisoners were locked and subjected to public ridicule centuries ago. The photo is accompanied by the headline "We think this is where she belongs, not mayor of the city of Menifee."
Kuenzi said the photo was taken from her website and pictured a "get out of jail" fundraising stunt at a Mayor's Ball. She said all the accusations listed on the flier are false, offensive and would be a violation of the candidates' ethics pledge if they are proven to have come from another candidate.
Kuenzi said she has heard for at least two weeks that the fliers were being circulated. She said members of her calling committee were told by residents that they had received them, and that most had thrown them away. She also said that Bill Zimmerman, candidate for a council seat in District 3, had been told about them when knocking on the door of residents in the city.
"I don't have proof of who did this," Kuenzi said, "but if it turns out there is enough evidence about unfair campaign practices, I could consider filing a complaint (with the California Fair Political Practices Commission)," she said.
"This is not right. If someone wants to criticize me for my record, that's one thing, but to spread outright lies like this is not right."
Among the allegations against Kuenzi was a charge that she cost taxpayers approximately $10,000 by pulling copies of council member Wallace Edgerton's and former council member Scott Mann's city emails. Kuenzi said she did make an informational request for Edgerton's emails over a three-month period, but the cost was only $400 and she paid it herself.
In the fliers concerning both Kuenzi and Kristjansson, they were accused of approving low income housing and homeless shelters to be built in Sun City at a cost of $3.2 million. There is no record of any such council action.
Some residents have spoken out against a recent majority vote by the city council approving a draft housing element -- required by the state of all cities -- that provides the ability to accommodate low income housing if it becomes necessary. No low income projects have been approved as a result of this action. One large apartment complex is being built in the Sun City area on Encanto Drive adjacent to Interstate 215, but that was approved by Riverside County officials in 2006, before Menifee was incorporated.
The fliers also claim that Kuenzi and Kristjansson refer to the seniors of Menifee as "cockroaches" -- something both vehemently denied Monday.
"I have never, ever called anyone a cockroach," said Kristjansson. "The entirety of this flier is a mischaracterization of what I have done on council.
"Today was the first time I've seen it, but I knew these were going around. People can say whatever lies they want to put out there. I know the truth about what I've done as a council member. It's absolutely pathetic that someone is putting lies out there as some kind of bullying tactic. If they have something to say about me, do it in an open forum and we'll discuss it -- not in an anonymous flier or during your three minutes at council, when I can't respond."
Kristjansson's reference was to the public comments portion of city council meetings, when she, Kuenzi and Mayor John Denver are the subject of verbal attacks by a small group of residents on a regular basis.
Kristjansson's flier includes her picture and the headline, "Beware, don't vote for Sue Kristjansson. Keep her out of district One."
"I don't know who sent this," Kristjansson said about the flier. "I can't call it actual hatred, because you can't hate someone you don't know. This entire argument is based on this incorrectly perceived conspiracy theory."
Kristjansson took particular exception to a statement accusing her of approving of a plan to tear down the Sun City Shopping Center and build high-rise buildings in its place.
"Nothing in there is more of a lie than that," she said. "I never said that and no one has ever said that in my presence. I did talk about beautifying and upgrading the center visually, but I certainly never talked about tearing it down."