Candidates answer question on city policies

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The four-year terms of council members Dawn Haggerty and Vicki Warren end in November, leaving two seats open on the Canyon Lake City Council. Four residents have announced their candidacy: Kasey Castillo, incumbent Dawn Haggerty, incumbent Vicki Warren and Jeremy Smith.

The Friday Flyer invited the four candidates to answer a series of questions leading up to the November election. During this period, residents will have a chance to hear from the candidates and learn more about them and what they hope to accomplish if elected to serve a four-year term on the City Council.

Last week, The Friday Flyer asked the candidates why they wanted to serve on City Council and what their qualifications are. This week, The Friday Flyer asked each candidate to answer the following question in 300 or less words:

What policies would you like to see the city implement in the near future?

The candidates are listed as they appear on the ballot.

Kasey Castillo

Kasey Castillo. Photo by Jill Torkelson

According to this year’s federally mandated count, our neighboring cities of Menifee, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Perris and Wildomar have seen an increase in the homeless population from the year prior. A new policy I’d like to see enacted by the City Council would be one for emergency response to an encampment.

Our city regulates actions within the BLM lands under municipal code sections, and while the land surrounding our gates is maintained by the BLM or covered by the county, a proactive policy prepared in cooperation with relevant agencies for emergency response to an encampment and its inherent dangers puts in place a mechanism whereby the city can immediately become involved, should one take root.

A variety of state and federal court rulings apply to the enforcement of camping ordinances, which can create a lengthy process. Given limited resources and the priority of calls for service facing law enforcement, a city emergency response plan could provide guidance, cut red-tape hassles and involve the other agencies needed to efficiently and appropriately address the issue.
Presently, the options to increase revenue to our city are limited. I am not in favor of increasing or creating taxes to support the city on the backs of its residents. Our city has a very small sales tax base and many of the businesses in our two town centers are service providers. I’d like to see our city implement a policy that provides for incentives to merchants. Setting a minimum percentage for the required number of sales-based businesses is a good start that could assist in the current revenue issues facing our city and alleviate some of the reliance on measures like the UUT. Tax and other non-monetary incentives, like expedited permitting, could revitalize our town centers and contribute to the quality of life of our citizens.

Dawn Haggerty

Dawn Haggerty. Photo by City of Canyon Lake

First, thank you to all who have supported me over the years. I’m grateful for your vote of confidence.

I would like to see completion of a joint cities cooperative fire department. Our Cal Fire cost is over one million dollars annually and increasing steadily. As many cities are doing, we could reduce costs significantly by a multi-city joint venture. We’ve been working on this for some time and hope for a successful completion soon. Next would be adding a joint venture police department, again reducing costs significantly. This would put our city in a solid financial position.

Another exciting project is potential acquisition of government land (BLM), which we hope will be available soon. This finally seems to be coming to fruition after years of speculation. Development would increase our tax income base and also give us options for adding benefits for our citizens.

I will assure that marijuana distribution centers are kept out of the city. History shows an increased crime rate where they are present.

Reviewing processes of communication between councilmembers, city manager, mayor, attorney and citizens could ultimately improve all lines of communication, in order to better share information and provide feedback to assist in improving city functions.

It would benefit all if there was a way to increase participation of the city council with the people of our city. This is a discussion worth having.

I would like to start discussion on possible ways to reduce utility costs, particularly for those on a fixed income. Utility costs have become increasingly difficult for many. This is a state-wide issue and would require eventual cooperation with our county and state representatives, but discussion needs to begin.

I care about this city. Your vote will keep me on the city council.

Vicki Warren

Vicki Warren. Photo by City of Canyon Lake

I believe it is up to the citizens to inform their councilmembers what policies they would like to see put in place, but let’s talk about the one that came to me several times recently: term limits.

When I first started as a councilmember, term limits were proposed to the City Council. After lengthy discussion and some input from the audience, it failed. I was one of several councilmembers who spoke out against it.

Four years later, I still think many of the points made were valid; however, I also clearly see the arguments in favor of term limits. The primary argument against it is that the people set their own term limits by either not re-electing an incumbent or voting to keep them in. This was the very argument that sold me.

The opposing argument is that quite often long-term incumbents are voted in, each term, simply because they are recognized. For instance, the mayor of Santa Ana has been in place since 1994, after starting with the council in 1986. How many of the people in Santa Ana know what his policies are, what he stands for, or know his track record? How many voted for him simply because he’s already been there so long, he must be okay? If he’s been there that long only because he’s recognized, is that good enough?

Perris, Norco and Menifee have had recent discussions, to name a few, so perhaps this should be brought to our voters. There are good arguments on both sides of this issue and maybe it’s time for a change. That’s not up to me to decide though, that’s up to the citizens and, if desired, it will be brought before the City Council for discussion. Someone just has to ask.

Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith. Photo by Donna Ritchie

I’m running for Canyon Lake City Council because I believe we live in one of the best communities in Southern California and I want to keep it that way. As your councilman, I will focus on making Canyon Lake a safe, enjoyable place to live. I will use my background as a business owner and my graduate degree in public policy to implement new initiatives. This will attract revenue to our city to help pay for additional services and ensure we are fiscally stable.

After meeting with members of our City Council, POA and other agencies, I’ve identified several opportunities to expand our technology capabilities. We can use technology to streamline city processes and provide a more inclusive experience for residents. We can do more on social media to keep residents informed and provide an avenue to have open discussions.

Canyon Lake is attracting more young families and I believe we should engage our youth in several ways. One initiate I am passionate about is creating an internship program at City Hall. We should provide students with the opportunity to see how Canyon Lake operates on a daily basis, which will allow them to gain valuable experience and earn a letter of recommendation.

I also believe Canyon Lake can develop a better relationship with our business community. We should implement business-friendly policies and work to attract more small businesses to our city.

I believe an effective city government begins with transparency and I want to bring that to Canyon Lake. Residents should always have a say in the decision-making process, so I have pledged to make myself available to you. You can reach me on my cell phone at 951-391-9109 or by email at smith4canyonlake@gmail.com. I would be honored to receive your vote for Canyon Lake City Council.

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