Candidates running for one of three open seats on Lake Elsinore’s City Council answered a series of questions Thursday Oct. 4, during a public debate at the Tuscany Hills Recreational Center.
The non-profit Lake Elsinore Citizens Committee presented the forum where seven of the eight candidates running told the audience their position on a variety of topics. The committee picked the subjects debated.
The third open seat was made vacant by Melissa Melendez, who is not seeking re-election. Candidate Park did not attend.
The two-hour debate kicked off asking if the current council should hold off on hiring a new city manager until after the elections. Tom Evans was appointed this year as the “interim” city manager after city manager Bob Brady was fired by the current council.
Candidates were split — Turner, Weber, Morsch and Manos said the search for a new manager should not be delayed if there is a viable candidate.
Bob Magee who wanted to keep Brady said Evans is a star candidate: “Whoever we pick as city manager I will not vote in favor of a big severance package.”
Weber, who voted to have Brady removed said there have been one too many excuses in delaying hiring a permanent manager and said if the city has a qualified candidate in its pool of applicants, they shouldn’t delay.
All candidates agreed that despite the loss of funds from RDA (redevelopment agency) ridding the city of blight would help curb crime and encourage new businesses to come.
Manos said, “We need to start mending fences and engage with people who want to do business here in Lake Elsinore.”
Candidates also agreed that continuing to brand the city and to work on fostering relationships with companies would help the city in its long-term growth.
Natasha Johnson said she wants to consider private money to fund key projects. “Lake Elsinore must establish its niche industry and then brand it at the same time improve its appearance and its reputation,” she said.
All candidates agreed on continuing a moratorium that bans medical marijuana to be sold in the city.
Morsh said, “I see no positive impact on the community to allow this type of business to operate.”
“These stores were allowing pot to trickle down into our schools,” said Weber.
“We had eight on Grand Ave. and I saw many 18 year old kids going into these stores. Why would so many 18 year old kids have medical needs requiring this drug,” said Turner.
Candidates have different thoughts on addressing the issue with Lake Elsinore taxpayers subsidizing the cost of providing fire protection services for the city of Canyon Lake.
Carlos said, “I would like to see a greater cooperation between the two cities.”
“If Lake Elsinore tax dollars continue to be used, Canyon Lake must offer something in return,” said Johnson.
Magee pointed out that 40 percent of all calls for service into Station #94 in Canyon Hills are for Canyon Lake.
“We have become a donor community,” said Magee.
The next debate among Lake Elsinore’s city council candidates will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 11 at Lakeside High School located at 32593 Riverside Dr., Lake Elsinore.
To learn more about Lake Elsinore City Council candidates and their platforms, read their profiles on SWRNN’s Election Guide 2012.
Michelle Mears-Gerst is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.