Manos opens campaign headquarters, kicking off race for 67th Assembly District

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Lake Elsinore City Councilmember Steve Manos, center, talks with Darryl Self, left, and Jeff Bartels, right, at the opening of Manos’ campaign headquarters for his state assembly bid. Valley News/Will Fritz photo

Lake Elsinore City Councilmember Steve Manos kicked off his campaign for state assembly Saturday, Jan. 4, with the opening of his campaign headquarters at the Outlets at Lake Elsinore.

Manos, a Republican, is running to fill the 67th Assembly District seat currently held by fellow Republican Melissa Melendez.

Manos announced his candidacy for the assembly seat Nov. 9, soon after Melendez announced her intention to run to fill the seat of state Sen. Jeff Stone when he resigned to take a position in President Donald Trump’s Department of Labor.

The 67th Assembly District covers a stretch of western Riverside County including Lake Elsinore, Wildomar, Canyon Lake, Menifee and Hemet.

Manos is opposed in the assembly seat race by another local leader, Murrieta Mayor Kelly Seyarto, along with Nick Pardue and Jeremy Smith – Republicans all – plus a Democrat, Jerry Carlos.

Manos said his campaign headquarters opening, attended by about 50 people, had “great turnout.”

“I like the momentum that we’re on,” Manos said. “It feels like a real campaign. It feels like we’re gonna make a difference here.”

Manos said he’s excited heading into the next 30 days, which he said will be important for the campaign ahead of the primary election, March 3.

There are about 24,000 more registered Republicans than registered Democrats in the 67th District, and Melendez beat opposing Democratic candidate Michelle Singleton by more than 20% in 2018, so California’s top-two primary system could result in two Republicans facing off for the assembly seat in the general election in November.

Manos said one of the issues he most urgently wants to address in the state Legislature is housing.

“There’s a housing crisis in California,” he said. “There’s some changes that could be made very easily to change some of the calculus in terms of how to construct housing and make it affordable.”

Manos said he believes the state needs to revisit redevelopment agencies, which were dissolved in 2011 by former Gov. Jerry Brown. The agencies could issue bonds to help pay for projects in areas designated as blighted, then redirect property tax revenues in those areas to pay for the bonds. But the agencies faced criticism over how they handled their finances during the more than 60 years they were in existence.

“We need to be able to find ways to fund affordable housing for both moderate and low-income, and to be able to do that correctly through proper planning, through local agencies,” Manos said. “This is all through partnerships, everybody should be able to go and participate including the residents. They should have a say over how their communities are built out.”

Another issue Manos said he would like to tackle is criminal justice.

“Some of the focus on criminal justice reform seems to focus a little too much on the criminal and not enough on the victims and justice for the victims,” Manos said. “That’s something that needs to be dealt with.”

Lake Elsinore resident Tim Fleming, who said he’s an active participant in his city’s politics, said he was supporting Manos at his campaign event because of his history with him.

“Steve, I’ve known him from day one,” Fleming said.

Manos was first elected to the Lake Elsinore City Council in 2012.

Campaign volunteer Misael Tovar said he was supporting the candidate because he thinks Manos has integrity and is a good fit for the district.

“I’m not a Republican. I’m a registered independent, and what I look for more is integrity, people that do this for the public good, as a service,” Tovar said.

Veronica Manos, Steve Manos’ wife, said she thinks the campaign is ready for and looking forward to the primary.

“I’m excited and we’re ready for the next step,” she said. “We’re ready to move forward. I think Steve’s ready.”

Will Fritz can be reached by email at wfritz@reedermedia.com.