Three San Jacinto Council seats sought by five candidates

The San Jacinto City Council has three council seats open this election year with five qualified candidates running. The candidates are incumbents, Andrew Kotyuk and Crystal Ruiz, and challengers, Ken Kidby, Russ Utz and James Pangrazzi.

The voters will have an opportunity to vote for their preferred candidates in the upcoming Nov. 8 election.

Andrew Kotyuk is the current mayor of San Jacinto. He is a Navy veteran. The local businessman was born and raised in San Jacinto. He said he is dedicated to finding solutions to the city’s current problems without raising taxes.

He called attention to his and the city’s success in opening up closed parks during the recession, lowering utility and maintenance costs, reopening Fire Station No. 78 with a renegotiated fire contract and finding new city revenues through grants and other sources.

Kotyuk said the city is growing, and he is “committed and prepared to drive increases in public safety, quality of life and amenities as developments are negotiated and built.”

Crystal Ruiz said she came to the residents embracing a new beginning for the city of San Jacinto and believed they could balance the budget without spending its reserves. She said she is “committed to continuing our fight for economic stability, to bringing jobs to San Jacinto and to working for you.”

She serves as a commissioner on the Southern California Association of Governments and the Riverside Conservation Authority. Ruiz is a strong advocate for a number of community organizations including Boxing for Christ and Summer Music at the Mansion.

She said she follows the concept that this country was founded on the idea that America was the land of opportunity and that if we worked hard anything could be possible. “That dream is not dead. It just takes work to get it,” Ruiz said.

Russ Utz has operated a successful business in the city for the past 16 years and believes he can bring a fresh perspective to the city by streamlining its operations. He said the city still has a serious money problem, and Utz has some creative solutions to the city’s public safety issues. He said code enforcement has a big problem with being inconsistent.

Utz has always been active in city affairs serving as a member of the City Planning Commission and San Jacinto Unified School District Measure Y Oversight Committee co-chair among other volunteer groups.

He said he can make things better in the city and does not need another job or income. Utz adds that he is ready to jump into the seat and do what needs to be done to fund necessary infrastructure improvements creatively.

Ken Kidby is a veteran who served for 10 years as a U.S. Marine and for 17 years in the National Guard. He has owned a home and a business in the city with his family since 2008.

He said serving the country has been his pride and soul throughout his life, and as a San Jacinto resident, he is dedicated “to serve you and your city with the same pride and care.”

Kidby is a member of the San Jacinto Lions Club, a member of the San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce and the American Business Women’s Association. He works with the association to support the women in business in the city.

He sees public safety as one of his focuses and is currently leading the HOPE Collaborative, Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, and Million Kids effort to improve safety in San Jacinto.

James Pangrazzi has been a critic for over five years of the San Jacinto City Council using up most of the city’s $18 million reserve during the recession and sees a need for change in the city council.

Pangrazzi said the council has been incompetent in making proper legal decisions, including when the council cut monthly council meetings from twice a month to once a month. He said as a city councilman he promises integrity, accountability and responsibility.

Pangrazzi said he will make sure that city parks are inspected not only for their physically unsafe defects but for the rats and snakes that infest them. He said he will make sure the city does not create any more “slush” funds. Pangrazzi said he will make sure the public is never shut out of council meetings and that the public has more time for comments.

Candidate statements are compiled from written questionnaires, public forums, social media and candidate campaign information.

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