Meet Menifee’s City Council candidates

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The Menifee City Council has open seats for District 1 and District 3, along with the mayor’s position, in the Nov. 3 general election ballot for voters. The Valley News posed the same set of questions to each of the candidates. Bill Zimmerman, Ricky Estrada and Keith Davis are running for mayor. Bob Karwin and Yamil Tomassini are candidates for District 1, and Lesa Sobek is a candidate for District 3.

How long have you lived in the city of Menifee and tell us about your family?

Mayor

Zimmerman: Having lived in Menifee over 30 years, I have grown to love my hometown. When Menifee incorporated in 2008, I dedicated my life to serving this new city and am the current mayor of this fine city.

Estrada: I have lived in Menifee for eight years. I love our city and our country.

Davis: I have lived in Menifee for 13 years and am married with two children. The reason why I have chosen to run for mayor of Menifee is because I love this city.

District 1

Karwin: My wife, Janissa and I moved to Menifee in 2002 to buy our first home and start a family. Since then, we have raised two incredible children who have lived their whole lives in Menifee and thrived in the public schools here.

Tomassini: I have lived in Menifee for five years with my 11-year-old son.

District 3

Sobek: My husband Jim, and our three children have lived in Menifee for over 30 years. My ties to the community run deep. I have volunteered in my local church in many leadership positions, such as the lady’s society, youth and children’s organization president and for the past 18 years as public affairs director.

What is your education and business or service background?

Mayor

Zimmerman: My 35-year career in the land planning and environmental profession provided the experience needed to serve on our inaugural planning commission. I also served as a Riverside County Parks commissioner.

Estrada: I have worked in Menifee schools for eight years as an educator and have enlisted in the Air Force Reserves. My education is in public policy from the University of California San Diego.

Davis: I completed my general education at Mt. San Jacinto Community College in Menifee and continued my education at Ashford University where I was a political science major. For five years, I managed Monument Financial Services and for three years I was the business banker at the Sun City Wells Fargo Bank. I currently own the Farmers Insurance Office in Sun City and am a managing member of La Herradura Home Facility, an adult residential facility for the mentally disabled.

District 1

Karwin: By day, I am an attorney. In 2006, I opened an office in Menifee and have had the opportunity to represent hundreds of our neighbors. I hold a degree in English from Boston College and earned my law degree from the University of San Diego.

Working locally has given me the time to serve as a volunteer to the youth in our community as a sports coach and as coach and mentor of the Paloma Valley High School Mock Trial Team. I am also the “Voice of the Wildcats,” as the announcer for Paloma football and girls’ volleyball.

Tomassini: I have a bachelor’s degree in operations management and analysis, a master’s degree in international business, a doctorate ABD (all but dissertation) in organizational leadership and development. I will be graduating March 2021. I served honorably in the Marine Corps for 10 years. After the military I have worked as an operations manager, logistics and supply chain manager and a small-business owner.

District 3

Sobek: I worked in the Menifee School District as their health technician, office clerk and library technician. In 2005, my oldest son joined the U.S. Army. Being a parent of our Nation’s Finest gave me a much greater appreciation for the young men and women and their families who selflessly sacrificed and served our country in the military.

Tell us why you have chosen to run for mayor or the city council?

Mayor

Zimmerman: This valuable experience as a public official, as the current mayor and serving four years as a governing board trustee for Mt. San Jacinto Community College District has prepared me to serve as mayor. Experience is crucial. As a community volunteer, I took a leadership role to create our Boys & Girls Club, our History Museum and Arts Council Menifee. My wife and I have enjoyed working with others in public service over the years.

Estrada: I want to hear your voices. I believe many politicians have lost touch. I have personally knocked on approximately 4,000 doors in my campaign. Nothing beats a candidate who is accessible and shows their face. The country is changing, and new youthful leadership is needed to run a responsible government.

Davis: The reason why I have chosen to run for mayor of Menifee is because I love this city, I love the residents of Menifee, and I care about the direction we go in.

District 1

Karwin: I consider myself a conservative because I support our constitution and the laws that govern our country. I want us to have the safest city in California, to make sure our new development brings the best business and homes to our city and get our infrastructure ready to handle the growth that is coming. Rather than sitting back and hoping the city leaders “get it right,” I decided to step up and be a part of the team.

Tomassini: I choose to run for city council because Menifee is a great place to live, and I want District 1 to have the attention and focus it deserves. Our neighborhoods built the city of Menifee, and we are the heart and soul of the city. Our district needs attention; it needs to be brought to the same level as the other districts, in terms of development. I plan on creating a long-term plan that promotes a sustainable economic development and a social infrastructure.

District 3

Sobek: I love being part of the process as a current councilmember that embraces core values and quality of life decisions for our residents. I hope my report card gives you a glimpse about my strong leadership values. Now I want to see Menifee become one of the safest cities in California.

What do you see as the most pressing problems for the city and its residents in the next four years?

Mayor

Zimmerman: In the next four years, I will be laser-focused on creating that “safe feeling” in our shopping centers, parks and schools. Residents will see roads widened and bridges built. I’m already working on that.

Estrada: I see taxes, police and fire, land preservation, hiking trails, transportation and encouraging more military identity as the most pressing problems.

Davis: One of the most pressing problems that my campaign is based around is solving the homeless situation in the Cherry Hills Plaza. As many may know, that center is in a senior community, and many of the residents in that area had expressed their concern about the transient problem it faces. Many cannot even go to the ATM machines after 6 p.m. because of fear of their safety. I have a plan to get the homeless situation under control, and it involves holding the businesses in that area accountable.

District 1

Karwin: The most important issue facing Menifee right now is public safety. We just started our own police department July 1. It is essential that we keep our officers fully funded and properly equipped so they can do their job to keep our communities safe. My dedication to this cause has earned me the endorsements of the Menifee Police Officers Association and the Riverside Sheriffs Association.

In addition, we are facing a growing homeless population, so we need to build on our relationships with community services organizations like the Social Workers Action Group to prevent Menifee from becoming a magnet community for homelessness and crime.

Tomassini: The growing number of homeless in our district has posed a safety concern for the residents, this issue needs to be addressed at the root of the problem, and we need the help of the state to provide programs that will make a real long-term impact on the homeless population.

District 3

Sobek: With Menifee being a young and vibrant city, we have attracted many homebuyers. We have become the sought-after city to attend college, raise a family and retire. The city council and the city economic development department has worked hard since incorporation to attract retailers. This first step was essential to bring the needed revenue to support all of the city services. The next step is to attract businesses, commercial and office workforce that provide high-paying jobs. Bringing these jobs will improve the quality of life for our residents who now have to commute long distances to support their families.

What will you try to do to improve or solve the problems facing the community?

Mayor

Zimmerman: I will do all I can as mayor to help our small businesses remain viable, recover from the pandemic and thrive economically. I was raised to be fiscally conservative, honest and trustworthy. That is why I am endorsed by the Republican Party of Riverside County, the Inland Empire Taxpayers Association and police and fire personnel.

Estrada: I want to repeal the 1% sales tax in Menifee. The city is using fear tactics, saying if you don’t pay the extra sales tax it will defund our police. The city council can reallocate funds from other departments. I am the only candidate to propose spending the same amount on public safety, even without your tax dollars. The property tax revenue will be coming.

We must always ensure our fire and police servicemen and women have resources in order to ensure the safety of our city. I respect all our service members. Being fiscally conservative means you can pay the minimum in taxes and still support your law enforcement.

Menifee has a beautiful landscape. We must be cautious not to overbuild Menifee with homes and commercialization. We need a healthy balance.

I see a “Menifee Trolley” system to help seniors and alleviate traffic. The current RTA bus system is unappealing to citizens. The city needs to create its own public transportation to encourage a reduction in traffic. A trolley to help citizens from marketplace to marketplace would make public transportation enjoyable.

We need to encourage a military identity of integrity, service above self and excellence. Menifee is creating its identity. If we encourage a military-style identity, we can attract respected families and federal grants to fund city projects. Surrounding ourselves with the military will lead Menifee to many attributes of excellence. In God, we trust.

Davis: I have discussed different options with residents, and some have expressed that fines are necessary for those businesses that allow them (the homeless) to loiter. I believe, one thing we can do is to enact a no trespassing and no loitering signal on all businesses that will make it illegal for the homeless to hang out in the area.

The city has options that can help the homeless, but a lot of them refuse the help. With our police being able to take more action against them because of the signage, it may influence them to take the help being offered. I also am a big proponent of Measure DD.

District 1

Karwin: It is essential that we keep our officers fully funded and properly equipped so they can do their job to keep our communities safe. My dedication to this cause has earned me the endorsements of the Menifee Police Officers Association and the Riverside Sheriffs Association.

In addition, we are facing a growing homeless population, so we need to build on our relationships with community services organizations like the Social Workers Action Group to prevent Menifee from becoming a magnet community for homelessness and crime.

I am a committed fiscal conservative and vow to make sure our city’s resources are used only for the best interest of our citizens.

Tomassini: I plan on working with our local law enforcement and county social and rehabilitation organizations to provide a lending hand in our homeless problem, more importantly I want to be available for the citizens to contact me directly on issues they have encountered or foresee. This is our city and we must work together to make it the best. I consider myself a conservative, a conservative because I support our constitution and the laws that govern our country and I support our constitution and the laws that govern our country.

District 3

Sobek: I will continue to work hard to attract and bring good paying, quality jobs to Menifee. My leadership experience and relationships in the county and state has opened the door to achieve this much needed next step.

I along with my city council colleagues have taken the first step with the creation of the new Menifee Police Department, which was established July 1. This first step is only the start. I will do all that I can in my power to continue to improve our city’s police department, Cal Fire response times, city code department and road improvements. That means I will work with my colleagues, continue my education when it comes to cost saving and technology advances. The four focus areas I mentioned will help to make Menifee one of the safest cities in California.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.