Candidates explain why they want to serve


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 introduced the candidates and featured their public statements. This week, The Friday Flyer asked each candidate the following question:

Why do you want to serve on the Canyon Lake City Council and what are your qualifications?

Kasey Castillo

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.

Dawn Haggerty

After a lot of thought on whether I should run for a second term, I decided to run based on several things. First, I originally ran on the platform of the city saving hundreds of thousands by developing our own police and fire departments.

I researched for a year on how this could be done, meeting with two police chiefs who each provided me a viable plan based on our numbers. Because the city was in a dire financial condition when I was elected, there were other priorities before we could look at anything but ‘how to survive.’ Our city reserves were too low to allow for ‘start-up costs’ for fire or police departments. I served as chairman of the city’s Public Safety Committee for two years.

The UUT tax has brought the city to a much better financial position and we can now join other cities in finding other options to the costly millions we spend on public safety.

This past year, we have worked on this project and it’s at a point where very soon we will have an alternative to our current costly situation. I wanted to see this through.

Second, I have experience that is invaluable to the City Council, having served for six years on the POA Board. I understand the inner workings of the POA and can contribute a lot to our being able to work with the POA for our mutual benefit.

Third, It seems the government BLM land that we’ve hoped to obtain for many years may be available soon. This provides a challenge as to what best use the city should apply. This could help the city increase our tax base which would be of tremendous benefit to us all and could provide many interesting opportunities. I want to be involved in assuring that citizens benefit from the decisions the city makes on land use.

My career involved consulting with Fortune 500 companies and a variety of smaller companies in reorganization changes to make processes more efficient and profitable. I have put this knowledge to good use during my POA tenure and city council term.

I greatly appreciate your vote in this election. When I began my term, the city was on the verge of bankruptcy and reserves had been drained to a dangerous level. Our financial situation has greatly improved, primarily due to the UUT tax passing, and the city is operating in the black; however, since we have a limited tax base with little opportunity to increase it, keeping the city strong financially is still a challenge.

A vote for me will allow me to continue with projects in the works but not yet completed, and for the opportunity to face the challenges of putting the city on an even stronger financial footing. Dawn Haggerty, Incumbent Canyon Lake City Council

Vicki Warren

In 2014, I committed to working for the citizens of Canyon Lake. The city was facing many important issues and I am running again to continue serving the people of Canyon Lake because there is still important work to be done, even more than what was needed four years ago.

Canyon Lake is a changing community. In the last four years, we have seen tremendous growth in families and people working full time to support their households. This includes a large commuting contingent, a faction that had, until recently, been almost entirely without a voice.

Our city government must be able to assist all citizens, from retired folks to vacationers to full-time working families. I am pleased to say that I have been instrumental in making great strides in that direction. We are thinking regionally more than ever before and I will continue that momentum.

We also must continue the fight to get a grip on the crushing costs of our emergency services. We got the fire station opened; now we must keep it open. I am compelled to remain on the front line of the fight for better services at a more reasonable rate, now that we are so close to a solution.

I also want to see the situation with our surrounding lands through to whatever end the citizens mandate. When the city was formed, our founding fathers were courageous enough to expand the city’s boundaries into the land surrounding our city.

For many years, the city has kept communication open with the Bureau of Land Management in the event the land is available for purchase. Those discussions are finally bearing fruit and the decision may soon be in the hands of Canyon Lake’s citizens to decide what is done with that acreage.

I want to be in place to see this through to the end, whether that means it is bought for development or bought for protection. It is within Canyon Lake’s boundaries and I want to see that it remains under the control of the people of Canyon Lake.

Beyond these issues though, Canyon Lake is my home and I love this city deeply. I take this job very personally and give it everything I have, from the smallest of issues to the largest. My door is always open, in line at the grocery store, having dinner at the country club, or on a lazy Sunday afternoon sitting on a bench in the park. When people talk to me, I listen, because that’s my job.

These are exciting and challenging times for Canyon Lake and I am eager to continue working to protect the community and the lifestyle we all know and love. I have been, and with your vote, I will continue to be, your champion.

I have proudly served the last four years on the City Council, with this last year as Mayor. Prior to that, I served on many state and federal councils. I am well qualified to continue representing Canyon Lake’s citizens.

Jeremy Smith

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. If elected, I will always make sure to put our residents and families first.

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.

I am a strong supporter of the public safety community and I’m honored to have the endorsement of the former Riverside Sheriff’s Association president, as well as members of our current City Council, business owners, veterans, teachers and community leaders.

This election is about choosing the right candidates to represent our interests, which is why I want to hear your opinion and answer your questions. I invite you to contact me on my personal cell phone number at 951-391-9109 or by email at

I would be honored to receive your vote in November so that together we can ensure Canyon Lake remains a great place to live, visit and raise a family.