There is a definite changing of the guard today in Menifee city politics.
Former city councilman and current school board member Scott Mann defeated council member Darcy Kuenzi by an overwhelming margin, becoming the first Menifee mayor elected by the public. In addition, Greg August decisively defeated incumbent Sue Kristjansson for the District 1 council seat and incumbent Wallace Edgerton beat Bill Zimmerman in District 3.
Beginning Dec. 4, they will join District 4 council representative Tom Fuhrman and District 2 rep John Denver -- the outgoing mayor and an opposing vote to Fuhrman and Edgerton on many issues in the past -- on a city council that will have a very new look.
"It's definitely a shakeup at City Hall, but I don't think it will be as bad as the naysayers think," said August, a longtime Sun City resident who has been vocal in his displeasure with the existing council.
Mann, who will resign his seat with the Menifee Union School District when the results are certified, joined August and Edgerton in disputing the perception by some that their election will result in a virtual end to further development in the city.
"Menifee remains open for business," said Mann, who received 56.39 percent of the votes to 35.18 percent for Kuenzi. "The kind of business we want is quality commercial real estate and quality homes. We want development that will help increase the value of our homes.
"We have an inventory of distressed properties in our city, but the situation is improving. As that inventory depletes itself, home values will increase. We need to ensure large lot sizes and a good housing mix to sustain those values."
"John and I worked together well on the council before," said Mann, who served on the original city council following the city's incorporation in 2008. "I hope this puts an end to a city council that can't get along. We'll have a whole new council and focus, and I think people will be pleased and surprised with what we accomplish."
Kuenzi said that while admittedly disappointed, she was proud of her accomplishments on the city council and wished the new council well.
"I'm happy and proud to have been on the first city council in Menifee," Kuenzi said. "I'm honored to have served Menifee for the last four years and I wish the new city council the best.
"I ran a positive campaign; I have no regrets. God has other plans for me. I just love my city and want it to succeed."
In District 1, August said he was surprised he won by such a large margin -- 50.56 percent to Kristjansson's 23.15 percent -- but that he credited much of his success to personal visits at virtually all the homes in his district.
"Truthfully, I didn't know whether I would win or not," he said. "I think touching base with the community was a big factor.
"I don't think you'll see much change in what the council does. All this does is remove the rubber stamp given to special interests. It's not true that we want to stop development. We want to sit down with the developers who already have a plan to come here and revisit those situations."
Kristjansson admitted that her work schedule, which requires her to commute to downtown Los Angeles every day, affected the number of households she was able to visit. She also felt, however, that her campaign was hurt by anonymous fliers distributed in the community, making what she said were false accusations about her conduct as a public official.
"I'm fine," Kristjansson said. "We were both out there doing our thing, and it just didn't go my way. But there was a lot of negative stuff put out there. People probably had a skewed perception of me because of the hit piece.
The other two candidates in the District 1 race -- Nick Martin and Carol Sullivan -- finished far back in the voting.
Edgerton, who was Menifee's first mayor by receiving the most city council votes in 2008, said he is confident the new city council members can work together to get things done.
"I have no concerns about working with John or about anything else," said Edgerton, who defeated Zimmerman by about 400 votes. "We've all been elected to do a job and we will work together to do that.
"We don't have to agree on everything, but we have to be agreeable."
Zimmerman, who currently serves as chairman of the planning commission, said he hopes the new leadership on the city council will appropriately address traffic concerns -- one of the main points of his campaign platform.
"I'm grateful to all of my friends and supporters," Zimmerman said. "We worked hard because we care about Menifee.
"Our concern is the traffic congestion on Newport and Scott Overpass Bridges. I would have championed those improvement efforts. We'll see what happens under this new leadership. Let's encourage them.
"My wife and I will continue active involvement in our local service organizations, which improve Menifee's quality of life."
Final election results:
Mayor, City of Menifee
50/50 100.00% of precincts reporting
JOHN F. SMITH 1,679 8.43%
DARCY KUENZI 7,008 35.18%
SCOTT A. MANN 11,234 56.39%
Total 19,921 100.00%
City Council Member, City of Menifee, Dist 1
GREG AUGUST 3,468 50.56%
CAROL ''RED'' SULLIVAN 787 11.47%
SUE KRISTJANSSON 1,588 23.15%
NICK MARTIN 1,016 14.81%
Total 6,859 100.00%
City Council Member, City of Menifee, Dist 3
BILL ZIMMERMAN 2,075 45.58%
WALLACE ''WALLY'' EDGERTON 2,477 54.42%
Total 4,552 100.00%
United States Rep, 42nd Congressional District
REP - KEN CALVERT 99,110 61.36%
DEM - MICHAEL WILLIAMSON 62,409 38.64%
Total 161,519 100.00%
State Senator, 23rd Senatorial District
DEM - MELISSA RUTH O'DONNELL 30,822 40.77%
REP - BILL EMMERSON 44,776 59.23%
Total 75,598 100.00%
Member of the State Assembly, 67th Assembly Dist
REP - MELISSA MELENDEZ 50,569 51.32%
REP - PHIL PAULE 47,963 48.68%
Total 98,532 100.00%
Gov Board Member, Perris Union High School Dist, TA 3
BILL GOULD 2,343 37.04%
DAVID NELISSEN 3,982 62.96%
Total 6,325 100.00%
Measure T – Perris Union High School District
BONDS YES 18,990 59.47%
BONDS NO 12,943 40.53%
Total 31,933 100.00%