Matt Liesemeyer, a 13-year resident of Menifee and chair of the Planning Commission, today announced his intention to run for Menifee City Council in November.
Liesemeyer, 36, will oppose incumbent Tom Fuhrman in District 2, which includes the southwest portion of the city. This is a diverse area including not only the development corridor along the west side of Interstate 215, but the rural community of Quail Valley and about 25,000 residents in all.
A five-year member of the Planning Commission who has been the chair three times, Liesemeyer lists transparency in communication within the city, public safety and qualify of life as his priorities.
"Quality of life is really not one thing – it’s everything," Liesemeyer said. "What is the level of public safety? How are your parks? What is your city doing to provide a quality of life for you?
"It's not about me or about Tom (Fuhrman); it’s about the district. It's about getting things done out there."
Liesemeyer acknowledges the need for further development in the city in order to generate the tax revenue needed to help improve residents' quality of life with better parks, roads and other amenities. But he also believes there are better ways of letting residents know how those projects are moving forward, and in getting input from residents.
"Many of us are working very hard to make a good life for ourselves in a down economy, and I think we need to be able to rely on our city leadership to do the right thing for the people," he said. "It should never be too hard to know what's going on in the place you call home. We want to trust that we can have a voice and we want to know our voices are being heard."
Liesemeyer proposes a more comprehensive public noticing policy for upcoming changes in the community. He also advocates regular town hall meetings within his district.
"I would seek to have signage placed on affected parcels in the weeks leading up to a public hearing so more residents can see changes on the forefront," he said. "The City of Temecula puts big yellow boards on parcels of land for a few weeks prior to a public hearing; that's an idea I would like to borrow from them.
"I would like to have a committee within our district made up of a resident or two for each of the various areas around the district. Residents would serve as channels to communicate neighborhood issues to me, and ultimately back to the council as a whole."
One of Liesemeyer's primary concerns in District 2 is the welfare of people in Quail Valley -- one of the more rural areas in his district. Following an interview with a reporter, he was on his way to a meeting of the Quail Valley Environmental Coalition. Residents there are concerned about their level of representation with the city and the lack of an effective sewer system.
"With the sewer problems they have out in Quail Valley, we really need a strong advocate – especially at the state level, where we could apply for emergency funding," he said. "In a lot of areas, that situation would be considered an emergency. There are houses out there where the sewer is literally backing up into their house. It’s not because of something the city did or something EMWD hasn’t done. In a couple cases it’s because of a bad contractor. Had there been a sewer trunk line out there, those residents wouldn’t have to deal with septic systems.
"I’ve met a lot of people at meetings up there who say, 'We don’t feel the city even thinks we exist. We’re up here behind the hills. We don’t talk to anybody. Our councilman doesn’t come around; he’s never here.'
"That’s a huge chunk of the district. It’s got to be more than 50 percent of District 2. There’s a lot of people up there and there’s no communication. So one of the things I’m talking about is more transparency -- more communication with leadership."
Another concern of Liesemeyer is public safety. Acknowledging that the city's ratio of officers to residents falls well below county standards, he supports effective pursuit of commercial developments with regional appeal to boost sales tax revenue and increase the budget for additional police in Menifee.
"I'm going to work with our staff to attract more quality businesses to Menifee so we can generate the sales tax revenues needed to fund these things," he said. "Without the tax revenue coming from commercial development, Menifee just can't carry all that weight. That's why, if I'm elected to this council, I will work very hard to bring quality development to this city while still preserving our rural character, to put money in our general fund and still ensure quality of life for Menifee residents."
Liesemeyer owns his own general construction business and is very involved with planning meetings regarding the Scott Road interchange and future plans for the Holland Road overpass. He is familiar with the lengthy process involving design plans, environmental reports and funding sources.
"With the Holland Road overpass, it's unfortunate that the process is what it is, but it's a lengthy one I'm familiar with because of my background," he said. "They need preliminary design, then they base some environmental studies on the design, then construction drawings, then public hearings, then funding, right of way acquisitions ... it’s a big undertaking. I already attend meetings on these projects and I will work very hard to help get the job done."
Liesemeyer and his wife Jennifer have a 7-year-old daughter, Grace, and a Black Lab named Fiona they adopted from Animals Friends of the Valley. Liesemeyer can often be seen walking Fiona around Lyle Marsh Park in the mornings.