|Visitors to Tom Fuhrman's Wooden Nickel Ranch can see his commitment to the area's heritage.|
Fuhrman spent several weeks in a hospital and rehabilitation center after suffering multiple injuries in a fall on his Wooden Nickel Ranch. He didn't let that stop him from launching his campaign, however. With help from supporters, he gathered the necessary petition signatures to apply for re-election and is now busy spreading the word about his reasons for seeking re-election.
Fuhrman stresses the need for the city to control the growth of housing and retail developments, to attract industries that will offer higher paying jobs to local residents, and to protect the rights of existing small business owners.
"We have so much on the books already," Fuhrman said, referring to planned developments in the city. "I still see empty houses with weeds this high that are bank re-possessed. What we need are light industries -- machine shops and technical businesses where employees make $40-50 an hour. How many jobs do we have in Menifee that pay more than $20 an hour?
"We also need to protect small businesses. They are the engines for growth, and the city should loosen up rules for home-based businesses in the city. We can't say they must all start in an industrial park. A lot of small businesses start in their garage."
Fuhrman acknowledges that some criticize him for holding a seat on the council while city code enforcement officials continue to deny him permits because of reported code violations on his sprawling ranch, which includes western-style buildings reconstructed from the old Audie Murphy Ranch near his property. But rather than considering it a conflict of interest, Fuhrman said his presence on the city council is a way to represent many of the rural property owners in his district.
"I said a couple years ago that I'd throw myself on a sword to change these regulations on home-based businesses," Fuhrman said. "Would you rather have Mr. Milquetoast or someone who's not afraid to fight City Hall?"
Fuhrman cites his involvement in several projects designed to improve the quality of life and protect property owners' rights. These involve his support of the Audie Murphy Sports Park, recent ordinances allowing residents to build bunkers and retain storage containers on their property; and the formation of a Parks and Trails Commission.
Fuhrman said he would also like to see an emphasis on historical preservation within the city. Although he doesn't expect the city to develop an Old Town section comparable to Temecula, he wants younger generations to grow up knowing about Menifee's gold mining heritage and legacy of local ranches.
"The older parts of town should be recognized as being historical," he said. "Preservation starts at the city level."
Fuhrman said he also is committed to representing the interests of his constituents in the Quail Valley community, where a much-needed sewer project is in the planning stages.
Fuhrman will be opposed by three other candidates in the race for the council seat in District 2, which makes up the southwest portion of the city. Fuhrman and all the other candidates for city council and mayoral seats -- all of whom have been profiled on Menifee 24/7 except mayoral candidate Paul Wiggins -- have been invited to the Menifee 24/7 Candidates Forum, an event that is free and open to the public on Oct. 9 in the theater at Paloma Valley High School.