Political Divide Widens Considerably at Candidate Forum

The Menifee election campaign, which has been simmering for weeks through contentious city council m...

The Menifee election campaign, which has been simmering for weeks through contentious city council meetings, may be reaching the boiling point.

First, there was a report earlier this week about the citywide distribution of unsigned, derogatory fliers targeting incumbents Darcy Kuenzi and Sue Kristjansson. Then Wednesday, during an otherwise tame candidates forum sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, District 3 candidate Bill Zimmerman took a shot at opponent Wallace Edgerton -- seated right next to him -- comparing him to an "old, worn spark plug."

But the flame was really turned up Thursday night during another candidates forum, this one sponsored by the Menifee/Perris Valley Democratic Club. If there was any doubt whether the battle lines had been drawn between factions both on the current council and among candidates, there certainly isn't now.

Edgerton, taking advantage of the fact only five of the nine candidates were invited to speak at this monthly meeting of the club, took verbal jabs all night at Zimmerman, who was seated in the audience. Zimmerman, who spoke at last month's meeting of the Democratic Club, was joined in the audience by mayoral candidate Scott Mann and District 1 candidate Kristjansson -- both of whom also spoke to the group last month.

Edgerton, a 78-year-old veteran of decades of public service, wasted no time going after Zimmerman.

"Yesterday, I was called an old spark plug who ought to be removed," Edgerton said. "That didn't particularly bother me, but the fact some of my signs were taken down did.

"Now I must say that I like Bill Zimmerman as a person, but as far as experience in this race goes, there's no comparison. He has no formal education; I have multiple degrees."

Moments later, Edgerton accused Zimmerman of reversing his position on city development.

"Bill said he would never go to the developers," Edgerton asserted. "Bill, after you lose the election, you'll be sorry you flip-flopped on that issue."

Edgerton later stated he was the only candidate to receive an endorsement from the Riverside County Sheriffs Department -- a point Zimmerman disputed after the meeting, saying he received that endorsement earlier Thursday. Edgerton also took another shot at Zimmerman's stance on land development, referring to Zimmerman's comments a day earlier about Carmen Cave, Menifee's community development director.

Responding to a statement by mayoral candidate John F. Smith that Cave should be "terminated," Edgerton said, "Mr. Smith, you said Carmen Cave should be terminated. Let me quote Bill Zimmerman from yesterday. He said, 'I love Carmen Cave.' And you're going to terminate her? You'd better get your people to vote for me, Mr. Smith."

(Zimmerman's actual quote the day before was, "I would give the city staff a B+, because there's always room for improvement. But I'm impressed with the city manager, Bill Rawlings, who's a very intelligent man. And I really like Carmen Cave. She knows how to get things done.")

Edgerton urged voters to elect him to a District 3 council seat, Greg August in District 1 and Mann -- a former council member -- as mayor. He verbally attacked a council member and candidate not running in his district -- Kristjansson -- claiming that the mother of deceased council member Fred Twyman "begs you all to vote for anybody but Sue Kristjansson."


Saying he had seen on the campaign donation forms of Kristjansson and mayoral candidate Kuenzi "money coming from Laguna Nigel, Newport Beach, places all over," Edgerton continued to attack Kristjansson, Kuenzi and Zimmerman, saying, "They'll pave you over with asphalt. Vote for Greg August, Scott Mann and Wally Edgerton."

The tone of those comments overshadowed the appearance of the four other candidates at the table -- District 1 candidates August, Carol Sullivan and Nick Martin and mayoral candidate Smith.

At one point, Martin -- a soft-spoken newcomer to politics -- said, "I thought this was not supposed to be a lynching. I think it's regrettable that people who can't even defend themselves are being raked over the coals."

Chuck Reutter, president of the Democratic Club and the event organizer, said afterward he was not concerned about a format that allowed only half of the candidates to speak at each of his group's forums over the last two months.

"No, I don't think it's a concern," Reutter said. "The place isn't big enough for all of them. We've done this in the past, but before we didn't have this many candidates."

The event, held in a meeting room in back of Provident Bank in the Sun City area (District 1), was filled to capacity, with more than 50 people sitting and standing in the aisles.

Smith, the lone mayoral candidate at the event and a self-proclaimed "unknown" in the race, took note of Edgerton's attempt to pit himself, August and Mann against Zimmerman, Kristjansson and Kuenzi -- the latter representing a faction that often wins 3-2 votes (with Kristjansson, Kuenzi and current mayor John Denver) over Edgerton and Tom Fuhrman.

"Regarding speakers such as Mr. Edgerton, I say ... we know there's a divide," Smith said. "If his predictions come to be and he, Mr. August and Mr. Mann are elected, they will just be the new majority and do everything their way. That's not what this is about. We all need to work together. Everyone on council should be elected at large."

Smith re-emphasized his platform statement that he accepts no campaign contributions and will serve the common man. He favors a moratorium on development after current projects are completed until the public's desires can be determined.

Sullivan again campaigned for the rights of senior citizens in her district, mentioning the need for improved transportation and the revitalization of the Sun City Shopping Center.

August repeated his vow from a day earlier to stand up first and foremost for the residents of his district. He said he favors bringing white collar jobs such as technical, medical and management firms to town.

Martin said he believes the city doesn't derive enough tax revenue as a result of an influx of white collar jobs.

"White collar jobs are not the panacea we're being told they are," he said. "Retail is what drives the economy."

There is no truth to the rumor that boxing gloves will be issued to the participants at the Menifee 24/7-sponsored candidates forum on Sept. 26, when all nine candidates will be seated together on stage in the Paloma Valley High School auditorium.

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  1. Way to go Wally! He tells it like it is and speaks the truth. We do not want Menifee to be overrun with business and slum housing as some other candidates continue to try and pursue.

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    1. Yes, you're probably right about one thing. If Wally is elected, NOTHING will get built, no bridges, no businesses, no road improvements, no new housing, just nothing. And nothing will get done. And nothing will ever change. Wally has made it clear that he sides with the Sun City crowd who want no change, no growth, no improvements. They want everything to stay the same, forever, and fight all change. Any time a council member brings anything to the city that involves growth, Wally is against it.
      I guess when you're a senior citizen and you've seen so much change in your life, it makes sense that you just want to have something stay the same.

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    2. After watching and listening to the candidates last night our minds were made up as to who and why we want them on the council. Two of the candidates seemed lost in what goes on here and how the city business works. But Edgerton put the facts out here and also joked with Zimmerman about a spark plug remark he made...which showed humor in this evening. August spoke great and explained how he would work for the whole Disrrict One. He seems to be very dedicated to this district and wants us to be represented by someone that is not swayed by developers.

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  2. Bravo to Edgerton and August! It comes downtown...dowe want another Orange County or do we want to do it the right way!. After listening to the others speak it sounds like Sullivan has enough other places she needs to stay concerned with and could not give the many hours that is needed to be on the council. Nick and Jim need to learn what is going on here and attend council meeting for a year so they see what it takes to be on this council. They seem like wasted votes at this time. We will continue to go where they are all speaking.....but don't think we will change our minds.

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    1. Sullivan is retired and had devoted herself to serving the citizens in this Community to make it a better plsce to live.
      A leader in a Community does become involved with organizations that provide the opportunity to work with the public otherwise how would they know what is happening in the city. She has shown her leadership in the Community.
      As for as August, aside from being upset with the
      City, the council and the City in general for the last 3.5 years, what has he done for the community? He is going to be another Edgerton and vote for very slow growth especially in the Sun city area of Menifee. The backbone of this country has been the "blue collar" workers. We need retail, commerical and Jobs for our residens.

      This City needs council members who have shown strong leadership within the community, sble to make decisions based on their knowledge of the visions of the citizens, not just a few, able to put aside differences, work together as a team to move forward, not backwards, able to listen and understand the needs of the entire city as well as their district, and be able to serve the city, not their own interests.

      AS you look at the other candidates, also look at their ideas and availability for time. August live in the core and wants the Sun City Area to remain the same and will need the citizens to give him the solutions to the every day concerns of the city before he makes a decision.
      Edgerton wants slow to no growth and white collar jobs yet he wants a nice sit down resturant with linens and real silverware, is an educated engineer going to be serving him? I think not. He is really in this for himself and will stop at nothing to achieve it.



      Sue lost her bid for election in 2008 and was appointed to the council based on her comments that she would follow the ideas of Fred Twyman and then did an eighty degree turn.

      Edgerton, August and Sue do not understand the concept and/or the restraints of the General Plan which is evident of their comments during the forums.
      My vote is for Mann, Sullivan and Zimmerman who have been involved with the city, understand the vision of the citizens, understand the General Plan and how it will benefit the citizens and are not part of any group that wags the dog! They are team players and want to bring harmony and respect to the council. This is the City's team to go forward.

      There is a saying that the busier a person is, the more they will accomplish. That fits Mann, Sullivan and Zimmerman who have invested time and energy into making this the best city in southwest Riverside.

      Vote for a change in positive leadership in November.

      Thank you

      John and Nick are too new to the agenda to know what is happening in the City.

      As far as time goes, Sue is in LA most of the day, so does she have the time to really look at the issues? Where is her focus.

      I will vote for Sullivan who does have her pulse on the citizens of District 1, understands the needs of the City and in general is very interested and concerned about the future of this great city. We need positive council members who will work for the good of the citizens. It is Mann, Sullivan and Zimmerman who will make difference in the next 4 years. I see a stale mate with Edgerton and August. Think about where you want your city to be in next 20 years and what you want for your children and grandchildren.

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    2. I think this person is voting for herself

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    3. Zimmerman has shown that he sides with the big developers. If you want to live in another Temecula or Orange County a vote for Zimmerman would give you all that and more. We don't need people that are for the developers or we won't be able to move in traffic.

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  3. I have attended all the forums and I attend City Council meetings. I encourage all residents to review carefully who you choose. We need people that work together, understand how a city functions and make good decisions for the betterment of our city.
    My observations are there is a divide, but not on the Council. There is a loud, negative group that attends Council meetings. They regularly ATTACK, CRITICIZE snd DISRUPT everything the City is doing.
    ONE Councilmember caters to them and instigates the negative behavior.

    It is obvious to me if we want our City to succeed we need Teamplayers and POSITIVE Councilmembers that have knowledge and vision to lead our City.

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  4. I don't know where Edgerton gets his information about Zimmerman. In a November 24, 2011 NC Times article titled MENIFEE: Commissioners want strict language in General Plan, Zimmerman has consistently been outspoken about preserving the city's rural nature.

    It took almost a year to fully vette the General Plan Land Use map. Zimmerman consistently brought up density limitations, height restrictions and asked that apartment buildings are limited to three stories. He also requested that master plans and workshops be required on all of those types of projects that need approval.

    To me, Zimmerman holds up to his statement that he is fair and balanced. Do your homework. Review the link below and see for your self. Planning Commission Meeting Minutes are also available for your review on the City's website.

    http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/menifee/menifee-commission-recommends-limit-on-homes-in-mixed-use-areas/article_b7f3af62-fd34-557a-aa57-4e2ea8ec5c67.html

    Make an informed decision.

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  5. Kind comment by Mr. Martin. "I thought this was not supposed to be a lynching. I think it's regrettable that people who can't even defend themselves are being raked over the coals." He gets my vote!

    It follows up to the character and values of the outspoken handful of core residents and the candidates that follow them because of their bullying and rude tactics.

    Be civil. Didn't your parents teach you that?

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  6. Growth for our city is good. However, the way some of these candidates want to do it is only going to hurt our city. If you look at how Irvine grew it was done somewhat properly. It's the safest city in America and has a tremendous business variety. There is little to NO section 8 housing. I think these candidates should have some meetings and follow to some extent what they did.
    If things go the way some of these candidates want it to go we are going to be in for a severe impact in the negative not positive.

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    Replies
    1. Has it occurred to you that Section 8 housing is the direct result of investors over-buying
      properties they intended to "flip" but were unable to do so when the "housing bubble"
      popped? Where would they go to protect their investments but to a rental situation and
      to the government for "guaranteed" money. The greed of these investors has been the
      bain of our community for several years now.

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  7. Right from the start, we were subjected to Edgerton's vindictive diatribe aimed at Kristjansson, Kuenzi and Zimmerman. He shook with anger. The candidates looked a little stunned. August and Edgarton exchanged knowing glances and talked back and forth. Is August Edgerton's poodle? Red is, well Red. Martin didn't realize he'd come to a lynching and Smith kept his dignity. The holier than thou, " I won't take a penny from developers" mantra is tired and hollow. Who cares? If these candidates represent the future of Menifee ,I pray for Menifee.

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  8. Last night's Candidate Forum -presented by the Democratic Club of Menifee/Perris-
    was over-shadowed by the bellicose rantings of Wallace Edgerton who is running for re-election
    as councilman of the 3rd District of Menifee. His vile attacks on, not only his opponent Bill Zimmerman, but on Darcy Keunzi (Mayoral candidate) and Susan Kristjansson (1st District) were tasteless in their ferocity and unworthy of mention. Wally's hateful discourse reveals his lack of qualifications to work as a team-player. Is it any wonder this City Council has been at odds since its inception? Ideas for Menifee such as "white-collar" businesses and "white table-cloth" restaurants -he emphasized the word"white"- seem a bit down the road as we have no decent roads or for that matter direly needed infrastructure improvements. Where are his ideas for the "Middle-Class" as in more
    small business? This area is more 99% than 1% and would not attract high-end businesses or millionaire residents. As for "white collar", don't we have a bounty of doctors, insurance agents,
    real estate companies and dental offices? Clearly these people choose not to live in Menifee. We need
    to invest in beautification and theaters - a more welcoming environment than what we endure now.

    With what bordered on vengeance , Edgerton repeatedly endorsed his "best-bud" to replace Krstjansson
    of District 1, commanding: " Vote for Greg August"!!!

    This is the second forum I have attended where Mr. August has proffered vacuous "no-growth" generalities while deferring specifics to a later time, perhaps after he has been elected. By his own
    admission, August states that it has been his way "to rely on others" who have more experience.
    Where does that leave Menifee or District 1 for that matter?

    Wouldn't it make sense to vote away these contentious candidates- to form " a more perfect union"
    and subsequently...a more perfect city? All of Menifee needs creative, forward-thinking council
    members who will work FOR us and not work against one another.



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  9. At the Wednesday candidate forum at Menifee Lakes, Zimmerman said: "Menifee is a beautiful place. Look out the window behind me. Note that this is a development".
    He made a good point that when done properly, communities can be an amenity.
    Zimmerman also said: "We should work with the development community not against them. Let's make it the best it can be".

    He seems pretty smart on the subject

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  10. Mr. Zimmerman came to my door last week and talked with me about my issues. He really seems to know what is going on and how to get our bridges funded. He is a family man who, like me, is raising his child in Menifee schools. I think that's why he wants to get us a boys and girls club. He's cool by me.

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  11. Zimmerman's comment about the spark plug is right on. Go back and review the video's of the council meetings and determine for yourself who has lost his Spark. Does he have the stamina and acuity for the challenges ahead?
    Denigrating others has been his way of dealing with issues the whole of his political career.

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  12. I like Zimmerman. I have done a few small projects for him in the past. From the short time I talked with him I found him to be a very down to earth person who really cares about our city. Very nice and caring person.

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  13. I just want people who are open to all the people's opinions and not ALWAYS voting with the developers. Our rural community also has a small voice and seem to always have to go to the city councel meetings and constantly have our voices heard. We moved to Menifee because we loved the country atmosphere here, just look at our Menifee Shopping Center which has a country style look! Our city needs to be a well rounded community.

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    1. Kuenzi & Zimmerman LIVE in the rural areas. They both have supported trails, equestrian uses and open space while balancing the needs of growth in our city. Kuenzi has proposed zoning protections for the rural areas and design standards to keep the character of existing communities rural. How do you want to manage the inevitable building that will come?

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  14. Im a business owner in Menifee, and to hear a councilman and residents say they want my business to fail and not grow is saddening to me. To say we want to restrict prosperity in this area is ridiculous. We should want the best for our neighbors, not restrict their opportunity because selfish people think Menifee is theirs to be owned. Maybe businesses should think about leaving Menifee as many residents and the city government are against growth.

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    1. Take heart the ones you speak of are only a vocal few.The voice of reason needs to drown them out...... with your vote and speaking out at the council meetings...... It's time to take the city back from the naysayers.

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