Candidates answer question on business relationships


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 what policies they would like to see the city implement in the near future. This week, The Friday Flyer asked each candidate to answer the following question in 350 words or less:

How can the city improve its relationship with new and current business owners?

The candidates are listed as they appear on the ballot.

Kasey Castillo

Kasey Castillo. Photo by Jill Torkelson

Menifee, Lake Elsinore and Temecula are getting our dollars. I’d like to see our Canyon Lake businesses flourish! Let’s reward them for choosing our city and remaining loyal. As a small business owner myself, I can appreciate the need to incentivize those who set up shop here.

Our city should promote, promote, promote. It would be amazing to highlight a “Business of the Month” to introduce it and its staff to the community. A city-sponsored free local directory would be great, as would be an active online campaign. By marketing them, we are marketing us! Together, the city and the chamber are a powerful cooperative. As a council member, I’d work hard to support that.

If you’ve ever been to Redlands on a Thursday night, you know they have an amazing Market Night. There is a waiting list every week! Vendors, food, bands…it’s a great way to get the community together while showing off our Towne Center and making revenue for the city. I’ve personally used their online vendor application portal. It was user-friendly and eliminated paper-application hassle. A regular weekly Market Night would keep the community home, instead of going to the city next door.

I’ve reached out to our Canyon Lake business owners. I’ve learned that those in construction would especially appreciate a streamlined process between the city and the POA. I’ve mentioned it before; expediting permits would be a great start. The easier and less frustrating the process, the better for the homeowner and the business. We don’t want to discourage homeowners from projects due to red-tape delays. One of the best benefits of having our own city is local control and the ability to make it happen for our businesses.

When I look at our Towne Center, I see a lot of great businesses. Where I grew up, we had a local pharmacy and soda fountain. That’d be a great addition to our city! Prescriptions could be filled while customers shopped or ate and shared a milkshake. Let’s embrace our small-town charm and encourage more local hangouts for Canyon Lakers and visitors of all ages.

Dawn Haggerty

Dawn Haggerty. Photo by City of Canyon Lake

There are several ways to work on a better relationship between the city and our business owners.

We should be business friendly in any rules and regulations we pass. This could include any signage regulations. Currently, I feel some businesses who are on “inside courts” or “around corners” from the main road through the center are restricted in how much they can advertise. I feel we should be cognizant of this and work with them wherever possible to allow advertisement signage of their business.

Working closely with the Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce could help keep council members cognizant of issues that might arise, enabling City Council to help in any way allowed. Also, the city needs to continue to provide support in any way we can for the chamber’s public activities such as Halloween, Octoberfest and others.

Working with those who own the buildings that our small businesses are in could possibly help in working towards proper maintenance of properties, grounds and resolving any issues the business might have.

We dearly need our small businesses and the tax base they provide and should stay alert to any way the city can support them.

Vicki Warren

Vicki Warren. Photo by City of Canyon Lake

Location, location, location. Our two main commercial areas are situated between two main freeways, and that is an awesome place to be. Yet Canyon Lake’s limited commercial centers are underutilized which is a terrible shame. We have some fabulous small businesses that are being missed, like Bombshells, who the city just honored for their second year as California Boutique of the Year. How many of those traveling Railroad Canyon Rd. know about Bombshells? Not enough. “California’s Best Kept Secret” is a fun catchphrase but it’s no good for our local businesses.

So how do we, as a city, help the businesses that we, the citizens are devoted to? Small steps count. Last year, the city moved its annual tree lighting ceremony to coincide with Small Business Saturday and from all accounts, the change was a success. We will be improving this opportunity for both the city and the Merchant Owners Association. We’ll take that small success and make it greater.

The city can also help by highlighting new businesses. If we make it an easy and even pleasant process, give them better exposure and applaud their efforts, other businesses looking for a place to land are more likely to plant themselves in Canyon Lake.

We need to start grabbing more of those shopping dollars that are literally passing us by on Railroad Canyon Rd. How? Again, by partnering with our businesses. One of the best things about living, working and being a merchant in a small city is having the city’s legislators within hand’s reach. If better signage is needed, let’s talk about what we have, what we need and what obstacles need to come down to build better commerce. Maybe we can promote a job fair in the center or help the merchants with a “welcome” package that is given to new homeowners.

We, the city, can indeed help the businesses we love to become even better than they are now by pursuing, developing and maintaining partnerships with those businesses. Together, small steps become huge strides.

I would appreciate your vote on Nov. 6, 2018, to help make that happen

Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith. Photo by Donna Ritchie

I’m running for our City Council race because I know we have one of the best communities in Southern California and I want to keep it that way. As a business owner, I bring a unique perspective to the Canyon Lake business community. I understand the challenges business owners face and I will work diligently to keep business taxes low.

Sadly, we can all agree that California has one of the worst business climates in the country. To help fix this, one of my goals would be to implement local level policies that will cut red tape, reduce regulatory burdens, and encourage entrepreneurship in Canyon Lake.

It is crucial that our City Council maintains a good relationship with the business community. We should work directly with the Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce to attract businesses to our community.

One of my priorities would be establishing an annual Business Roundtable. This would be an opportunity for local business owners, Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce, City Council and members of the city’s staff to all come together to discuss ways we can be a more business-friendly city.

Additionally, we should focus on building relationships on a regional level. In order to stay current with the latest business trends, we must be on the cutting edge of the changing economic conditions and not allow the negative influence of Sacramento to impact Canyon Lake.

With a strong regional presence, Canyon Lake can attract more businesses to our community which will help create a more enjoyable experience for residents and visitors. I will be a strong advocate for our business community.
I am ready and willing to go to work for you. I invite you to contact me on my personal cell phone number 951-391-9109 or by email

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.