Four candidates seek to replace Washington in Supervisors District 3 seat

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From left, Edison Gomez-Krauss, Courtney Sheehan, Joseph Scarafone, and Mike Juarez will challenge, Chuck Washington, right, for the Riverside County Board of Supervisors Third District seat. Courtesy photos/Valley News

Jeff Pack
Staff Writer

Riverside County Board of Supervisors Third District incumbent Chuck Washington is facing a crowded field of challengers for his board seat on March 3. 

Washington, who has served as mayor of Temecula and Murrieta during his 25 years of public service, is running for reelection to the Board of Supervisors after taking the seat in 2015. 

He will be challenged by Edison Gomez-Krauss, Joseph Scarafone, Courtney Sheehan, and Mike Juarez. 

The third district stretches from Idyllwild to Anza Borrego Desert State Park, and from Temecula to San Jacinto. It includes the cities of Hemet, Murrieta, San Jacinto and Temecula, and the communities of Aguanga, Anza Valley, Cahuilla, East Hemet, Gilman Hot Springs, Homeland, Idyllwild, Lake Riverside, Mountain Center, Murrieta Hot Springs, Pine Cove, Pine Meadow, the Pinyon communities, Poppet Flats, Rancho California, Soboba Hot Springs, Valle Vista, and Winchester.

Valley News posed three questions to each candidate to answer. 

What makes you uniquely qualified to hold the office you are campaigning for?

Gomez-Krauss: I am not bound by corporate donors, I owe no political favors, my responsibility is to the constituents only. Our campaign slogan is “Money Doesn’t Vote, People Do” because no amount of emails, postcards and road signs can compare to visiting constituents personally, meeting community leaders and discussing their solutions to the problems we face. There is nothing more dangerous than a politician who claims to have the solution to all your problems; we believe in working directly with the community to obtain the best results for everyone.

Juarez: I’m a resident of a rural community, of Winchester. I’m a retired peace officer and alumnus from Fresno State University. My major field of Study was Labor-Management Relations from the School of Business. During my past 27 1/2 year career in California State Civil Service, I have held the following positions: Corrections counselor, Employee Relations Officer, Labor Bargaining Negotiator, and Analyst Generalist. I self-actualized, in my professional field, by acquiring jobs that involved work on both sides of the bargaining table. I’ve represented both management’s and labor’s rights and interests. As a county board supervisor, I bring diverse skills, knowledge, and abilities that will enable me to collaborate with rural community leaders to enhance economic development and bring about jobs. 

Scarafone: I started my first Landscape Company at 19 years old in San Diego California in 1982 under the DBA “Lawn Experts” which I built up and successfully sold in 1985. Returning to college to study Horticulture and complete a 5-year training program at American Kenpo Karate becoming black belt in 1986, I then returned Landscaping in 1987 becoming a Landscape Contractor in 1988, License # C-27 544215 under my own name Scarafone Landscape Construction. My clients included ARCO Products Company, Thrifty Oil Company, Grease Monkey and 100’s of residential clients spanning from Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills in Los Angeles County,  to La Jolla, Point Loma, San Ysidro, and Otay Mesa in San Diego, and Calexico and El Centro in Imperial County California, running multiple crews in multiple Cities. I performed both Landscape Construction and Maintenance until 1993 when I again sold my company after the Saving’s and Loan Crisis and massive surge of migrant workers which had driven prices down. I moved on to homebuilding in 1993 entering as a Peti-Bone driver and quickly realized the trade had already been lost to undocumented migrant workers as well, and most union jobs had already died. Deciding to part of the solution I took a job with the United States Border Patrol in 1995 graduating from the academy proficient in among other things, immigration law, criminal law, USC Titles 8, 18, 19 and 21 as well as Spanish. After being run over by a drunk driver on the freeway while working, I retired early and returned to contracting in 2006 only to find that massive codes and restrictions had been put in place making permits for most construction and building cost-prohibitive. Despite cost-prohibitive codes and restrictions I completed the Conditional Use Permit Process in 2008 and now own and operate a small RV and boat storage in Hemet.

Sheehan: I am the only candidate in this race who is a working parent living in Riverside County today. As such, my governing philosophy is informed by my contact with other families who share the same struggles that I do. Specifically, we deal with the lack of a robust local job market, excessive transportation problems (predominantly caused by the lack of local jobs, driving commuters to find work elsewhere), and housing affordability. I am the People’s Candidate because my platform prioritizes the important “pocketbook issues” that my fellow Riverside County working parents struggle with every day- issues of public service that should be addressed by city and county officials but are frequently overlooked.

Washington: I am uniquely qualified to continue serving as Riverside County Third District Supervisor because of the experience I have gained as Supervisor since 2015 and also because of the experience I gained during nearly 16 years as a Council Member. I believe experience matters and none of my challengers have ever served in any elective office. We are a large County and that experience is needed. Also, I have a proven track record of success ranging from the creation of affordable housing, improvements to local roads and freeways and stepped-up law enforcement efforts to target gangs and other pressing problems. 

What is the single most pressing issue facing the district you represent/hope to represent in the years to come? 

Gomez-Krauss: With all the problems our community faces, it is difficult to choose only one. However, they can all be traced back to a singular root cause which is a lack of leadership. Our county is ripe for responsible growth but is being held back by a Board of Supervisors manipulated by their corporate donors therefore incapable of making hard choices out of fear of losing their next election.

Juarez: The most pressing issues/concerns facing my District 3: Homelessness: We provide more subsidized housing, Get them a job, and health coverage because you can’t hold down a job if you are sick or lack hygiene. Impacts of marijuana/cannabis production and utilization upon our communities: Medical and recreational dispensary security at A) recreational parks, B) production regulations, at farms, garages, nurseries, home backyards. Maintain sustainable clean water and clean air resources for our communities during drought periods, fire prevention due to climate change. We must develop feasible/workable plans to deal with mother nature’s perils. 

Scarafone: The Democrats have passed motor-voter laws that have intentionally made our voter registration process a complete mess. Illegal immigrants have been registered to vote and many duplicate voter registrations have been found. 

Sheehan: The single most important issue we face in Riverside County is the lack of local jobs and the red tape that municipality and county governments place on small businesses that could provide those local jobs. Mom and pop shops are not only the truest form of the American Dream, but they’re also extremely important in communities like ours. All roads to a thriving and healthy community lead through successful local businesses, and right now our businesses can barely get off the ground. I’m extremely passionate about encouraging and growing our local and small businesses, and I have a lot of results-oriented ideas and plans. Millions of local families want well-paying jobs in their hometowns, and I intend to bring those to them.

Washington: It is impossible to say whether major traffic congestion or homelessness is a greater challenge. Homelessness is affecting our local communities and continues to worsen and has become a burden on many aspects of government services.

How do you intend to tackle/solve that issue?

Gomez-Krauss: Actively engaging with the constituency. Community involvement is key to addressing multi-layered issues in our district. As Supervisor I would bring community leaders together to tackle our problems instead of making decisions up in an ivory tower based on expensive external consulting companies. Unless there is a natural disaster or reelection season, our elected officials are rarely seen in our communities especially in rural areas. We deserve a government that cares more for its people than its corporate donors.

Jaurez: To address concerns and issues within our district, we must collaborate with community leaders to develop: Ongoing community revitalization committees, some ad-hoc and standing volunteers committees, to advise and recommend viable and sustaining solutions that are workable and viable long term.  

Scarafone: As Riverside County Supervisor, I would force an audit of the county voter rolls to weed out all the problem registrations.

Sheehan: I have spoken with dozens of small business owners during my campaign and I have created a set of innovative plans to promote small business growth in our county. These include creating relationships with coastal business leaders to attract them to build campuses in Riverside County, and a progressive income tax for new businesses so that they have time to start turning revenue into profit. I also plan to incorporate state and federal job training programs at the local level in a strategic and targeted manner for those in the workforce looking to learn a new skill and transition to a new industry. Additionally, I will begin charting the data of industries predicted to grow over the next decade so that we county officials can work with local educational institutions to make sure that our workforce is ready and trained for this growth. I’m a “big ideas” person and I am the only candidate in the race proposing groundbreaking and research-based solutions like these.

Washington: Last year I served as the Chairman of our Transportation Commission and was able to push through a platform to focus more on internal infrastructure (as opposed to infrastructure which serves as routes to leave Riverside County). I have established a Third District Homeless Task Force where we bring together Electeds from my 4 cities as well as law enforcement and our Deputy CEO for Homeless Solutions. We are beginning to see our efforts pay dividends.

What are some of your key objectives when/if you are elected?

Gomez-Krauss: The unsheltered and homeless population in Riverside County is rapidly rising especially amongst Veterans and our youth. The Board of Supervisors must work directly with the homeless outreach programs throughout our county and dedicate resources to expand mental health services and help those who are at risk of homelessness as well. We need to stop wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on Cannabis enforcement and create a legal framework that allows small farmers into the legal market to create jobs, positive tax revenue and protects our environment. Three years after California voted on Prop 64 the Board of Supervisors has yet to approve a single cultivation permit, essentially recriminalizing that which was already allowed. Expanding our public transport in between cities and to the unincorporated areas.  Riverside county is long overdue for a light rail system to alleviate traffic and shift towards a transit-oriented community. Equally, many rural residents commute daily to work in their nearby cities, expanding public transport to unincorporated communities will make highways safer during peak hours and will provide mobility to the elderly community who cannot make the drive. Last but not least, balancing the county budget. Riverside County is $20 million in debt and rising with no consistent plan to curb these numbers or to produce positive revenue. We must cease wasteful spending and focus on projects that will create affordable housing and combat rapidly escalating rent prices in our community.

Juarez: My key objectives if elected, I would connect and/or strengthen the links between the rural communities and the Indian casinos to forge partnership relations to benefit district residents. I will connect Winchester and neighboring communities of Temecula and Murrieta, including Romoland and Homeland with the other incorporated cities of San Jacinto and Hemet, to promote/foster revitalization of Old Town Winchester, Old Town Murrieta including Old Town Temecula. 

Scarafone: We need to have zero tolerance for those who continually break our laws. We can not continue to allow homelessness to destroy the quality of life in our county. As your Supervisor, I will work hard every day to resolve Riverside County’s homeless crisis. I ran for Riverside County Supervisor to highlight the bureaucratic red-tape that business owners encounter from county government. 

Sheehan: I will increase the number of local small businesses in the county by at least 30% by the end of my first term. I have developed a plan to work with regional leaders in government to create a federated system of public transportation throughout the Southern California region. I’ll put a workable housing and development plan in place that prioritizes the building of enough units to stabilize the housing market and bring housing and rental prices down so that working families like myself can buy their first home and begin building equity. Finally, I pledge to be a visible and accessible local leader who holds at least one town hall per month in my district.

Washington: Keep our parks, schools, and neighborhoods safe; Balance the budget and maintain fiscal stability; Partner with local schools to enhance education; Provide access to high quality, affordable healthcare; Continue to invest in transportation to improve traffic flow; and continue to support small and big businesses to encourage economic development in our region.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.