Russ Brown appointed to Hemet City Council seat

Hemet resident and retired Claremont Police Capt. Russ Brown tells Hemet City Council why he wants to work with them as a councilmember. He won the seat following an interview during a special city council meeting Feb. 7. Tony Ault photo
Hemet resident and retired Claremont Police Capt. Russ Brown tells Hemet City Council why he wants to work with them as a councilmember. He won the seat following an interview during a special city council meeting Feb. 7. Tony Ault photo

Retired Claremont Police Capt. and Four Seasons resident Russ Brown was selected to serve on the Hemet City Council in the seat left by former City Councilman K. Paul Raver. Brown, selected from a field of nine applicants at the Feb. 7 special Hemet City Council meeting in a 3 to 1 vote will be on dais as a councilman for the next two years.

Brown who told the council of his extensive experience as a police officer and active community leader in Claremont before moving to Hemet during a public interview session won the approval of Mayor Linda Krupa, Mayor Pro Tem Michael Perciful and Councilwoman Bonnie Wright in the final vote. Councilwoman Karlee Meyer voted “No” expressing her favor for Cami McGargill, another highly qualified council applicant who interviewed that evening.

City Clerk Sarah McComas wasted no time in swearing in Brown who joined the rest of the council immediately after going into a closed session. The full five-member council will now consider the city’s business needs for the next two years, which most likely will center around the Measure U sales tax revenue expenditures to improve the public safety departments and the city’s economic development plans.

Brown in his interview said he was anxious to join the council with his priorities to help the city “maintain its fiscal stability, maintenance of our (city’s) physical assets and infrastructure and enhance our community’s safety and emergency preparedness.” He promised the council he would join them in signing a recently passed city council resolution promising to use Measure U sales tax revenues only for the city public safety departments as long as he serves on the council.

He said the city’s most important problem is “clearly an issue of the panhandlers and homeless in our city. That should be our priority, if that is addressed the safety and freedom to the community will fall into place.” He noted his experience dealing with similar problems in Claremont as a police officer and police liaison to the city and school districts. In Hemet, he was selected in 2012 by Hemet’s Police Chief to serve as representative on the city’s Community Focus Group.

He outlined some of his ideas on how the city might help improve the interactions between the younger and older residents in the city in response the council’s questions on the issue. Brown said he would be spending the next few weeks working with the other council members and the city clerk to get up to speed on the current issues facing the city.

The other applicants that interviewed with the council were given 10 minutes each to tell why they wanted to become a council member. They included Rick Gentillalli, Jim Goede, Ernest Jiles, McGargill, Noah Seaton, Greg Vasquez, Antoinette Wolfard and David Wollenschlager.

The council, after hearing each of the applicants, on a piece of paper noted their three top choices for position narrowing the selection to Brown, McGargill and Vasquez. Then the top two, Brown and McGargill were called to the speaker’s podium to answer a few more questions.

McGagill, a dispatcher for the Hemet Unified School District transportation department and an active community member, told the council her priorities, if selected she would be good in bridging the gap between the young and older generations in the city and would perform with “integrity and be humble.” She is well-known in the community for her public service and assistance to the youth of the community.

The next council meeting was set for Feb. 14, when the council announced its selection for the Measure U Oversight Committee.

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