Lake Elsinore City Council election candidates offer up their opinions

Art Barela

Special to Valley News

With just two weeks left before the polls close on Nov. 8, The Valley News has reached out to all of the candidates running for a seat on the Lake Elsinore City Council to get a final plug in before the election.  Each candidate was given the following six questions to briefly formulate their final statement to the voters:

Can you tell us why you’re running for City Council? What do you believe are your strongest qualifications for City Council? Why do you think the voters should vote for you on Election Day? Are there any specific issues that you’re passionate about? What kind of progress do you hope you can bring to the council? And in what ways do you think you can help City Council to work better for LE?

Robert Magee – City Council Member (Incumbent)

I am running to continue our City’s commitment to Public Safety.  This must remain our number one priority.  Since being elected I have been instrumental in doubling the size of our police department, adding motor patrols to our streets, adding sheriff’s and fire boats to our lake patrols and voted to construct two new fire stations.  Our response times are now lower than at any time in our city’s history.  In order to maintain this commitment we must encourage positive economic development while making sure that all new projects pay their own way and are not subsidized by our existing taxpayers.  By growing our employment base in the commercial, retail, hospitality and industrial sectors our property tax and sales tax revenues will continue to rise and allow us to keep moving Lake Elsinore forward.

I want to keep promoting our outdoor health lifestyle by continuing to build new park and recreation facilities.  This is an exciting and safe place to live; we have professional baseball, off road racing, boat racing, water skiing, parachuting, golf, fishing, miles of shoreline on our levy and Riverwalk to run, walk and bike and much more.  I am proud of the role I have played in bringing more of these facilities to our city.  My experience and my passion for this valley set me apart from the challengers.  I have been fortunate to raise my family here and enjoy the natural beauty and numerous recreational and professional opportunities Lake Elsinore has to offer.  I am mindful of our valley’s history and excited about our future.  I have worked in the private sector, the public sector and the political sector and that experience allows me to approach an issue from a number of different angels and work cooperatively on solutions.

Steve Manos – City Council Member (Incumbent)

I’m running for re-election to City Council because I grew up in Lake Elsinore, I am proud of where I come from, and I have seen the untapped potential for my City ever since I was a kid. City Hall was broken when I was elected four years ago. We have worked hard over the past four years to turn our City around and I would like to spend the next four years taking us to new places. My vision is to transform Lake Elsinore into a World Class city as a repayment to the family, teachers, and other community leaders that helped my family become what we are today. My background is in real estate, legislative advocacy and small business ownership. This makes me an excellent communicator and negotiator. I am well versed in land use and ethics. As a small business owner and Business Economics major at UCLA, I understand the needs of the businesses that our residents want to see here in town. The past four years has afforded me priceless experience as an elected official. Today we have a Council that is focused on solving the problems that Lake Elsinore has, both new and old. This Council has progressed this City over the past four years in ways that we’ve never have in the past. Collectively, we’re more sophisticated and have transformed the way we operate the City. We have a great team that is getting things done and there is a great deal more to look forward to on the horizon. Four areas of specific concern are; economic development, an ultimate fix to stabilize our lake, integrating the arts into our community, and changing the negative perceptions of our City by eliminating blight and ending homelessness.

Almost every significant policy change or project requires time to judge the positive or negative impacts on a community. When we talk about stabilizing the lake, this is a process that started decades ago and will continue decades into the future. We must always be mindful to continue our efforts. Progress doesn’t always mean drastic change. Sometimes it’s about carrying forward the legacy of your predecessors and/or making adjustments based on new information that wasn’t previously available. To elaborate on progressing economic development, I see opportunities to bring shopping and dining, increase tourism through our Action Sports theme, and attract manufacturing and industrial businesses, as well as local jobs, to our vast swaths of undeveloped regions within the City. As far as my political persona is considered, I’m a collaborator. I am professional and tough about doing what is best for our community. I respect the strengths of my colleagues and they have reciprocated that respect. As far as tangible benefits to Lake Elsinore, I bring an enormous sphere of influence to the table as well as a very deep connection to our local community that helps in addressing anything from new businesses to new community service programming.

Natasha Johnson – City Council Member (Incumbent)

I first ran for city Council in 2012 to help be a part of the solution in creating an incredible thriving city to raise my family live and build a business.  At that time, I was currently serving as the chairwoman for the chamber of commerce and had a great deal of encouragement/support from the business community, to run and help bring a business perspective to the council. I wanted to bring awareness and growth by building a strong foundation for economic development. My passion and experience for economic development have definitely proved invaluable over the last four years. Being a business owner myself gives me another unique perspective into understanding with the business community wants and needs. My background in the financial sector with specialty in business development and commercial real estate has also lent a different perspective and dynamic to our council. My role as a team player and communicator on our council is another qualification I am most proud of. It’s not always easy working together as diverse team, however, we have managed to make it work. Creating specialty subcommittees that each councilmember serves on in their area of expertise, really promotes efficiency and production. Most importantly I believe my biggest qualification is simple listening! It’s a novel idea but the councilmembers biggest qualification should be listening, listening and identifying the needs and opportunities for residents, the business community, staff, developers, investors and colleagues.

Voters should re-elect me because they like the direction the city is moving.  Voters should cast their vote for me because I am just like them, a homeowner tax pair a resident a business owner a mom, just like them wanted Lake Elsinore to be the amazing city we know what it is. I never forget what I was elected to do and continue to work hard for the city of Lake Elsinore. I am very passionate about responsible economic development and being conservative with our budget. Issues of particular concern are job creation, public safety, and capturing tax revenue leaking into other ZIP codes, as well as proper infrastructure to match our growth as well as long-term planning. Last but definitely not least, helping create long-term sustainability for our incredible Lake. Over the last four years we have seen exponential growth on both the residential and commercial side. We have just laid the foundation for success and will continue on this path we have just scratched the surface of Lake Elsinore’s potential. We, on the current council, have worked very hard at building a foundation for success. The last three years has really been dedicated to solidifying and curing that foundation and now we build. The election will determine who continues to serve, however any and all candidates will have the luxury of moving forward because of the hard work and dedication to creating a successful environment we have focused on.

Steve Martin – Local Business Owner

I believe that the city is headed in a direction that will not serve the vision and needs the citizens have for their city. Local Job growth, economic development is the basis the city needs now and in the future. Too much emphasis has been on an extreme sports venue and it has proven to be very costly for the city. The city’s ability to tax it citizens has reached its limit and more housing only complicates the problem. We need business investments, entrepreneurship and high technology companies and developers to build a tax revenue stream that will allow the city to grow without taking on more debt. I have a lot of experience in developing, growing and expanding businesses. I also have experience identifying failing businesses and have turned them into profitable enterprises. I have an engineering degree and MBA degree and have used all those skill over the years. I have a business that was started from scratch and continues to work with government agencies small and large to produce outstanding results.

If the voters are tired of being sold future promises of thing to come that never come, or are looking for some realistic ideas for the city, or just want to be able to work where they live, then I am the one choice they have to make that happen. I have three specific area of concern; first is public safety/code enforce/infrastructure improvements, second is the high-tension wires that are planned to run through our city, and third is local job growth that pays more than minimum wages. These are all multi-faceted issues that have several components within them but I believe that there are solutions to solve each of them if the city has the right vision for the future. I think citizens of LE need a better voice on city council. I think the current council is caught up in their own vision of what they want Lake Elsinore to be instead of what the citizens want it to be. I think I can assist in producing the kind of LE the majority of the citizen’s want.

Edwin Castro – San Diego Area Businessman 

The Valley News did reach out to Mr. Castro on several occasions and though he was granted the same and equal opportunity to respond, as were each of the other candidates for City Council, by the time of this publication he had not yet responded or provided a final statement.

Voters are encouraged to visit the City of Lake Elsinore website to read his, and all of the candidates official Candidate Information and Application Statements located under “Election Information” at:

2 Responses to "Lake Elsinore City Council election candidates offer up their opinions"

  1. Rachael   November 4, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    I voted for Bob Magee, Steve Manos and Natasha Johnson they are making good things happen in Lake Elsinore and are trustworthy. I can not say that for the other two who recently moved to Lake Elsinore a year ago.

  2. heidi   November 5, 2016 at 8:56 am

    I will vote for the current council magee, manos johnson. Not the others who know nothing about lake elsinore and have lived here about one year.


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