City council candidates announced after election filing period closes


The filing period for the Nov. 23 general election has closed, and while the race for the White House between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden continues to heat up, several races for city council seats in local cities are worth watching.

In this first installment of election coverage Valley News offers a brief introduction to candidates for city councils and city specific ballot measures in our coverage area. Next week, we will highlight candidates for school boards along with statewide ballot measures.

For more 2020 election coverage, visit


In Temecula, the race for a seat representing that city council’s District 4 shows four candidates vying for the seat, including James “Stew” Stewart, who stepped down from his role as mayor and the council in June following an email scandal that led some to believe he was racist. Stewart, who has owned Stews Barbershop for 37 years, filed papers declaring his candidacy in July. Stewart is running against Navy Reservist and student Mark Gular, small-business owner Sonia Perez and Adam A. Ruiz, a small-business owner and commissioner for the city of Temecula Community Services Commission.

Candidates for Temecula City Council District 2 include small-business owner Andy Black, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and small-business owner Jessica Alexander and small-business owner Alisha Wilkins.


Retiree Steven Brown and former Murrieta Valley Unified School District trustee Lisa DeForest have both qualified for the ballot to represent constituents in Murrieta’s District 3.

U.S. Marine Corps veteran and retired city manager David Kolk and businesswoman Lori Stone, who is also sister of former California state Sen. Jeff Stone have both qualified for the ballot to represent Murrieta’s District 4.

This year’s election cycle will finalize the city’s transition to district-based city council elections.

Lake Elsinore

In Lake Elsinore’s District 2, incumbent Steve Manos will face off against Edwin Castro and business owner Michael Carroll.

In District 4 incumbent Natasha Johnson is running unopposed.

In District 5 incumbent Robert “Bob” Magee is hoping to retain his seat against challengers Robert Kelly, a small-business owner, and Jorge Lopez, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

Lake Elsinore residents will also have the opportunity to approve or deny a one-cent local transactions and use tax ballot measure to address community-identified city service priorities such as maintaining quick 911 emergency response and fixing local streets and potholes.


In Menifee’s District 1, attorney Bob Karwin and businessman and student Yamil Tomassini are both hoping to win enough votes to secure the seat currently held by retiring councilmember Greg August.

In that city’s District 3, incumbent Lesa Sobek will face off against challenger Cecilia Truman.

Running for Menifee mayor at-large are incumbent Bill Zimmerman, businessman Keith Davis and educator and baseball umpire Ricky Estrada.

Menifee voters will also have their voices heard in regard to repealing Measure DD, a one-cent sales tax measure approved by voters during the 2016 election cycle that pays for maintaining and enhancing city services and programs.


In Wildomar, Mayor Dustin Nigg is running unopposed for his seat in District 2.

Mayor Pro Tem Bridgette Moore is hoping to fend off challenger Kenneth “Kenny” Mayes to retain her seat representing constituents in District 4.


In Hemet, City Council District 1, incumbent Karlee Meyer hopes to retain her seat amid a crowded field of challengers including DeniAntionette Mazingo, Kenneth Prado and Norman W. Kyriss III.

In District 3, incumbent Michael Perciful will face off against challenger Malcolm Lilienthal.

Hemet’s District 4 will see Visjwajit “V” Shinde, Joe Males and Miguel Madrid battle it out to win the seat vacated by former councilmember Bonnie Wright in July.

San Jacinto

In San Jacinto, the only city in southwest Riverside County still using the at-large voting system, candidates are vying for three council seats. Incumbents Crystal Ruiz and Russ Utz will attempt to hold on to their seats against challengers Phil Ayala, Brian E. Hawkins and Cynthia Stroffolino.

Kim Harris can be reached by email at