|Candidates for city office addressed residents of the Sun City core in a forum Wednesday night in Webb Hall.|
By Tim Doyle
Menifee residents who live in the Sun City core area of District 1 heard from city council candidates and mayoral candidate Scott Mann Wednesday night in a candidates forum held on the Sun City Civic Association campus.
Mann was joined by District 1 candidates Greg August, Sue Kristjansson, Nick Martin and Carol Sullivan. Issues discussed included city infrastructure, residential development, public safety, Sun City amenities, and the Sun City freeway sign.
When asked if Menifee should have a distinct identity, Mann said he believes Menifee could be "the preferred destination in Southwest Riverside County between L.A. and San Diego." He said that luring the right businesses into Menifee requires a strategic economic plan. He believes that same economic plan can also preserve the local neighborhoods for residents.
Mann, a former city council member, addressed the issue of the Sun City freeway sign, which was removed from the shoulder of Interstate 215 after Menifee became incorporated in 2008. He said CalTrans removed the sign as a function of the incorporation process and not the city. Mann also said he believes there are ways the city can streamline the proposed construction process for the Holland Road overpass to secure funding and clearances.
Darcy Kuenzi, a city council member since 2008 and candidate for mayor, was not present at the forum because of a family commitment. A written statement submitted by Kuenzi was read, including the message, "...vote for the individual who has the knowledge, experience, and integrity to lead this young city. Vote for the future of Menifee."
In her statement, Kuenzi also said she was compelled by supporters to provide a response to what she calls a smear campaign that targets herself and Sue Kristjansson in fliers distributed to residents. She encouraged residents to contact her with any concerns or questions in reference to the flier. A letter signed by Kristjansson and Kuenzi regarding the issue was also provided to attendees.
August made it clear that he stands to protect home values and refuses to take special interest contributions. August said that Menifee's average income is around $24,000 and he feels that white collar jobs could get that number to somewhere around $34,000, bringing prosperity to residents.
Saying he believes that those types of jobs would help maintain Menifee's rural feel while generating more tax revenue, August also said the Holland Road overpass should be the next bridge to receive funding from the city, and not the Newport Road bridge.
Kristjansson said that government plans are very complicated and cannot simply be changed without repercussions. She said the Newport Road project has the majority of its $40 million funding already secured, and the city risks losing some of that funding if the project is stalled or stopped.
On luring white collar jobs to Menifee, Kristjansson believes that education for our children and students will lead to a work force that can attract those businesses to Menifee.
Martin said he wants infrastructure to be the main focus of Menifee's government, saying, "We've got to keep infrastructure in front of development. They've got the cart in front of the horse."
Martin also stressed that continuing the expansion of the Newport Bridge is very important because of secured funding that could be lost. Martin said he's against raising taxes and that the meat and potatoes of Menifee's tax revenue comes from local retail businesses paying sales tax. He wants Menifee to concentrate on retail business development.
Sullivan said she wants to improve the quality of life for Menifee's residents. She believes public safety is a major priority, and specifically mentioned educating seniors about police procedures and reporting. She contends that an increased police presence will make residents feel more comfortable and willing to venture around town, spurring additional economic growth.
Voters in Menifee will go to the polls on Nov. 6.