The following is an open letter to the residents of Menifee from John Denver, who has served the city as mayor for the last year and has two years remaining on his City Council term. This letter has been edited only for space concerns.
What is leadership? In this election year, this question is an important one for all of us to answer. It is especially important for the future of Menifee. Now I know that we can all go to the dictionary and look up the standard definition, but what do you want in a leader for Menifee? I thought I would take a minute and tell you what I am looking for.
I also want a person with integrity. Again, a lot of people say they are principled leaders but if you look closely, the facts just do not support their claim. There has been some slanderous and untrue information spread around this community about several candidates for office. It’s pretty easy to determine which political camps that information came from. Oh, I am sure that the favored candidates will tell you they had nothing to do with it, but they have also failed to denounce it as false or to tell their supporters to stop. This is a perfect example of unprincipled leadership. Look for someone who has consistently kept their word to the citizens of this City. Pick those who have refused to bend to political pressure and who did the right thing, no matter how seemingly unpopular.
Finally, I am looking for an honest person. They say politics is a dirty business, and it certainly can be. But still, some politicians present well. They list their accomplishments, their degrees, and their experience. But for many of them it’s a game, it’s about the deal, not the people they represent. They pedal influence, broker power, and scheme behind the scenes. They take advantage of the fact that most people don’t remember the past and only make decisions on sound bites and catchy phrases.
Don’t be fooled by long political careers, or election to several political offices. All that proves is that they know how to get elected. Look beyond the superficial to their character. Have they kept their word? Have they consistently told you the truth, even if it isn’t what you want to hear? Many say that honest politicians are hard to find. So, I say don’t elect a politician. A true citizen government is run by people who care about people. People who have integrity. People who are honest.
When we became a City, we inherited all of the approved building plans from the County. These plans cover more than 80 percent of what we now see as open land. These land owners and builders will eventually build those projects and we will grow. You have heard that the City doesn’t need to honor those plans, that we can fight them. Truly, this is nothing more than campaign rhetoric. It would cost us millions in legal fees to try to deny these land owners their rights, and the end result would be the same. The projects will be built. We can throw road blocks in front of these projects, spend City money delaying their completion, but to what end? They will be built.
One last thought. Many of you have heard, read about, or seen what appears to be a dysfunctional Council. The papers say we argue a lot and can’t agree on the simplest of policies. Again, this is just not true. We have some council members and a small group of citizens that like to stir the pot by making outrageous comments and petty requests of staff when the business at hand does not align with their political goals. They stall and complain in an attempt to bully or embarrass their colleagues into submission. But it hasn’t worked.
I ask you to just look at the progress our City has made. In spite of this negative background noise, our City is flowering. We now have several dedicated council members that can see through the smoke and make sound decisions for the future of our City. That vibrant vision I wrote of a bit ago is within our grasp. Think carefully and vote wisely.
Mayor of Menifee