City Council candidates discuss new programs


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 their first priority would be if elected to serve on the City Council. This week, The Friday Flyer asked each candidate to answer the following question in 350 words or less:

What new programs do you think the city could institute that would benefit the citizens of Canyon Lake?

The candidates are listed as they appear on the ballot.

Kasey Castillo

Kasey Castillo. Photo by Jill Torkelson

Canyon Lake could benefit by the presence of programs that bring local and regional attention to our city. The following are programs I’d like to be a part of making happen.

A business incubator program. It’s no secret that we need to work with the Chamber of Commerce to increase our business presence and sales tax revenue. This type of program would foster business growth and increase our economic vitality by providing resources and support during the start-up period. We have the storefronts available; let’s fill them! We could partner with local college and university business programs and benefit from their presence, outreach and resources. Temecula has great success with their incubator program, the Temecula Valley Entrepreneurs Exchange, and there is no reason we could not take advantage of the same innovation.

Mt. San Jacinto College has a certificate and/or associates degree program in water technology. The City of Canyon Lake should become a college partner! Graduates of the program are employed by cities, counties and federal agencies that operate and maintain water treatment and focus on water quality. Having a collaborative, academic on-site program where students can get real-world experience and work on our lake would be win-win. It would also bring positive regional attention to our city.

The City of Perris offers a Junior Lifeguard program during the summer. According to the City of Perris website, “the program introduces young people (ages eight to 15) to safe aquatic recreational opportunities and is designed to improve young people’s physical conditioning, their understanding and respect for the environment, respect for themselves, their parents and their peers.” Not only does this program create revenue for the City of Perris, it provides a valuable opportunity for leadership and safety training. I believe there would be great support for a program such as this in our community. Again, it would bring positive regional attention to our city.

My goal is to bring a fresh perspective to the City Council and to the region on behalf of the city. We cannot afford to let opportunities pass us by.

Dawn Haggerty

Dawn Haggerty. Photo by City of Canyon Lake

I ran for City Council with the anticipation of creating our own city police and fire departments. After being elected, I found the city in such dire financial straits we couldn’t afford startup costs to the plan (developed through two police chiefs of other small communities). The city was struggling to pay Cal Fire and Riverside County Sheriff excessive fees. Each year, the major increase is less sustainable.

The City Council challenged Cal Fire and ultimately was able to get Station 60 reopened, but the long-range forecast on increasing costs is not encouraging. At that time the UUT tax passed and the city was able to continue with the public safety costs for now. Hopefully, Measure S will pass in November which will extend the UUT tax at no increase.

Meanwhile, the city is working on a fire department shared with several other cities. This will provide the same good service at less cost to the city. The small city of Calimesa very successfully started their own fire department this year.

The next step is to begin negotiations for a jointly shared police department. We currently have one daytime and one night deputy and several hours with no deputy on site. This is below established ‘safety requirements’ for coverage per capita, but all we can afford. Having our own police department would provide 24/7 two-man patrols.

The POA security company can only ‘observe and report’ and when a crime is reported, the deputy is called and if he’s busy you have to wait for a deputy from Perris, when available. If you are being robbed, this isn’t acceptable.

My plan could include the POA only paying for gates/marine patrol security, saving several million dollars (currently $7 million for three years) and contributing to city program costs which would be expanded. It’s a win-win for the city and POA with POA security significantly enhanced and per person costs reduced significantly.

I see this as an ultimate savings for all with much-improved security. I want to assure this moves forward. Vote for me in November.

Vicki Warren

Vicki Warren. Photo by City of Canyon Lake

I would love to see the city revive a program through the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office that I have heard existed in our city years ago: the Explorer Post Program (sometimes called the “Police Explorers Program”). This program gives people between the ages of 14 and 21 an up close and personal look at a career in law enforcement. The participants must attend meetings and perform community service while receiving training in various law enforcement tasks such as traffic control, criminal law and first aid, to name a few.

There is a similar program through the Riverside County Fire Department, called the Riverside County Fire Explorers, for people between the ages of 14 and 20. In that program, they learn basic fire chemistry, ladder operations, auto extrication and more.

Keeping with the safety theme, the City of Canyon Lake has tried, in the past, to implement a Neighborhood Watch program. These are incredibly successful all over the country and our little bit of paradise would be perfect for this program. I do not know about previous attempts, but I see no reason we couldn’t make it work here. I believe the city and our citizens working together can create a successful program that would greatly benefit our community and I would be excited to work with our citizens to implement it.

I would also like to see a “welcome packet” be given to all new residents (homeowners and renters alike). The packet should include a list of the merchants located in our three merchant centers, maybe with discounts or coupons for goods or services. It would introduce our new community members to all that we have to offer close to home which would, in turn, benefit the business owners. We could include some essential information as well.

I believe any or all of these programs would enhance what we already have here in Canyon Lake, but citizen participation is essential to all of them. I would love to work with anyone who would like to help get any (or all) of these started. Let’s work together and make it happen!

Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith. Photo by Donna Ritchie

I’m running for 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 next Councilman, I will work towards implementing programs that will improve public safety, expand our business community and improve quality of life for all residents of Canyon Lake.

After speaking with hundreds of residents throughout this campaign, I’ve learned that public safety is a number one priority. We must develop programs that encourage more volunteer engagement in the safety and security of our city. I’m currently having discussions with the past President of the Riverside Sheriffs Association to consider ways to incorporate more citizen involvement.

As a business owner, I’ve had to be creative in order to expand my client base while not exceeding my budget. We will need to apply the same type of mentality on the Canyon Lake City Council to attract new businesses and opportunities to our city. This will require hard work, dedication and extensive discussions about how to make our community more business-friendly.

At the same time, we must be strategic so that we don’t over-develop our city or compromise our way of life. More tourism activities much like Oktoberfest would be a great way to increase our city revenue without raising any taxes or fees on residents.

Currently, we are one of the few cities in Riverside County that has only one City Council meeting each month – most meet twice each month. I will explore the costs, requirements and feasibility of holding two City Council meetings each month – one for city and another joint meeting with the POA Board so that we can ensure residents have more opportunities to stay informed and give their input.

It’s time we come together as a city and work with one another. 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 at I would be honored to receive your vote Nov. 6 for City Council.