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Newly elected City Council members Kasey Castillo and Jeremy Smith begin their four-year terms. They were sworn in during Wednesday’s City Council meeting. Photo by MacKenzie Dore

Newly elected City Council members Jeremy Smith and Kasey Castillo were sworn in during Wednesday’s City Council meeting, taking seats alongside council members Larry Greene, Jordan Ehrenkranz and Randy Bonner.

Smith and Castillo are filling the seats vacated by Vicki Warren and Dawn Haggerty, who both ran for reelection and lost. Final election results show Smith with 40.52 percent of the votes, Castillo with 27 percent.

With his wife Elissa by his side, Smith was sworn in by Cameron Wessel, a longtime friend who used to work with Smith at Congressman Paul Cook’s office. Castillo was sworn in by her husband, Greg Castillo.

Prior to the November election, The Friday Flyer asked the candidates a series of questions. When Smith was asked why he wanted to serve on City Council and what his qualifications are, he said, “I am running for Canyon Lake City Council because I believe we have one of the best communities in Southern California and I want to keep it that way.

“After graduating from California Baptist University with a master’s degree in public administration, I pursued several opportunities that provided me with the unique experience of working with some of the most effective city managers and elected officials in the country.

“Over the past decade, I have worked tirelessly to build relationships with our local and statewide elected officials. Working for a state representative and United States congressman has given me the experience in public policy to deliver results for Canyon Lake residents.

“Today, I am blessed to be a business owner and I’ve learned the importance of balancing our budget without raising taxes, while still providing exceptional city services. I want to use my business experience on the Canyon Lake City Council to be an advocate for taxpayers and ensure we offer our residents a great quality of life.

“As a husband to my beautiful wife Elissa and father to our wonderful daughter Kennedy, I’m inspired daily to do my part to provide a safe, enjoyable environment for residents of all ages. Canyon Lake is my home and I want to preserve our way of life.

“My platform for Canyon Lake upholds the values we as a community share: ensure that public safety remains our number one priority, provide all residents with exceptional city services, maintain our balanced budget and protect our reserve fund, increase community engagement and transparency and always make sure our children are safe.”

When Castillo was asked why she wanted to serve on City Council and what her qualifications are, she said, “I love our city and I’m proud of it. I want to see it thrive and be a real active presence in the county. The inter-county committees the council members sit on are an important reason we are a city; to have a voice in vital decisions such as those that affect our commutes and the surrounding land areas.

“I’m committed to advocating for Canyon Lake. If you’ve met me, you’ll know I can competently assert our position and we’ll be well-represented.

“My career as a small business owner and a public law attorney gives me an excellent foundation to make critical, objective decisions for our residents.

“Having been a prosecutor and now a private attorney, I can look at both sides and work efficiently towards resolution. As a business owner, I’m constantly looking to grow, save and develop plans of action. I’m conservative with my finances and that will transfer to my service on the City Council.

“My background is in public safety. I transitioned from being one of two prosecutors in the county-wide San Bernardino Career Criminal Unit to representing police and fire associations in a variety of areas. I’ve never represented the Riverside Sheriff’s Association or Cal Fire. I understand first-hand the issues residents, employees and city officials have in contract dealings and will bring my experience as a resident, attorney and an employer to the City Council.

“I support our first responders and public safety is always a priority, as is fiscal responsibility in the provision of those services.

“I’ve been involved in public and community service since I can remember, and for a variety of causes. I’m an active board member on two non-profits in the Inland Empire, and here in the lake, I donate my time and energy to the Junior Women’s Club and Woman’s Club. It’s important to me to show my children that we lead by example, and it’s our responsibility to make this world better.

“I want to actively work with the POA towards mutual goals. I’ve heard the concerns from residents about spending, city revenue issues, regulations and public safety. The City Council and POA should work together and collaborate where appropriate. I am committed to active communication between the two entities.

“Residents need information too. Transparency shouldn’t just be a buzzword. I will always be open and honest about my actions and position on issues. I’m not a politician, I’ve never run for office before. I am an independent thinker and want to be an advocate for us. I will never be dismissive and always listen to the residents. I am a good neighbor and I’ll be a great councilperson. I promise to be a true steward of our city.”

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Donna Ritchie