Murrieta/Wildomar Chamber of Commerce hosts Murrieta council forum

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The Murrieta/Wildomar Chamber of Commerce hosted a virtual forum for Murrieta City Council candidates Tuesday, Sept. 22, on the business-focused organization’s YouTube channel. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Broadcast live on YouTube Tuesday, Sept. 22, the Murrieta/Wildomar Chamber of Commerce held a Murrieta City Council candidate forum featuring all four of the candidates for two districts up for grabs.

In District 3, Lisa Deforest and Steven Brown were present, and in District 4, Lori Stone and David Kolk logged in to the meeting.

Hosted by Patrick Ellis, chamber president and CEO, the forum featured questions submitted to the chamber from the public and chamber members.

To open the forum, each candidate had two minutes to give a candidate statement, Ellis asked each candidate to give voters a little background about their educational and work histories, and he asked them what inspired them to run for city council.

Brown shared his vision for the city of Murrieta.

“One of my platforms is the future belongs to Murrieta,” Brown said. “Right now, I think we all know that the immediate future is to address COVID-19 and the effects of COVID-19. … That’s No. 1, the health of our citizens.

“Going into the future what I’d like to see Murrieta be looking at is really the internet for all for free, solar generation for our city, and I’d like to see the Murrieta emblem put on the water tower,” he said.

“I hope to see Murrieta develop into a mixture of rural, parks and small businesses that support a few of the anchor firms that we have here,” Kolk said, in response to the same question. “I’d like to look at Old Town, the possibility of converting that to a no-auto zone, at least the Washington area.

“I also want to do something about our traffic issue, which is continuing to get worse, and really look at what’s going to happen over there at (Interstate) 215 and Clinton Keith (Road) when Costco comes in. We cannot be bottlenecked by these new businesses,” he said.

“My vision for Murrieta is a safe, beautiful community that we all want to thrive in,” Deforest answered. “We do that by maintaining local control of our police and fire and supporting them as many ways as we can.

“We need to stabilize our economic development. We can do that by expanding our biotech and our innovation center. We can do this by attraction and retention and expansion of the businesses that are here,” she said.

“First and foremost is to make sure that our city is financially stable,” Stone said. “We continue the quality of life, making sure that public safety, making sure that we do support our public safety. I would like to have an expansion of Old Town.

“We are in recovery mode right now with COVID-19, so supporting our chamber of commerce, our businesses and the city staff is important right now,” she said.

Ellis asked the candidates to give their top three things that they would like to accomplish if elected.

“The first is implementing a response to the COVID-19,” Kolk said first. “Sorry, but I strongly disagree with Supervisor Hewitt; I think that he is out to lunch. Secondly, I’d like to address the traffic issues that we have. Creating what I will call priority streets, such as Washington, Clinton Keith, Rancho California, Whitewood that would have minimal interruption from cross traffic. The third issue becomes more of how do we attract the right type of businesses that use the existing skills sets of people in Murrieta, rather than having to import the labor.”

“I would like to see code enforcement revamped,” Deforest answered. “I would love to see our city a little more proactive instead of reactive with some of the things that are occurring on our streets.

“Old Town is in my district; it’s part of District 3 and I want to see Old Town thrive. I want to have it be an area where we hang out in on the weekends and where we bring friends to. I will do my due diligence to help Old Town see its fruition.

“I would like to support our police and fire, and I believe that we probably need a joint venture of a training facility for our fire and police so we can save money,” she said.

“With regard to Old Town, we definitely have a water issue down there, and that is something that we need to address immediately if we’re going to allow additional development,” Stone said. “Sticking with development, we have an area called ‘the golden triangle’ that has been sitting empty. I truly believe that that is the last prime piece of property in Southern California, and regionally I would like to pass by the box and bring something that benefits the entire region.

“Public safety has to be a priority for us to have a quality of life that we have here in Murrieta to remain one of the safest cities in the nation,” she said.

“The No. 1 going into 2021 is going to be COVID-19,” Brown said. “If anybody doesn’t think that’s going to be No. 1 on our list, I think they’re not really seeing what’s going on. The issues that are involved with COVID-19 not only involves the individual citizens of Murrieta, but businesses also.

“The second priority is balancing the budget, of course. And then attracting businesses is the third priority that we need to figure out. Working with the various professionals, what can we do to help bring more businesses and manufacturing to Murrieta,” he said.

To watch the virtual forum in its entirety, visit the chamber’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjnmds67mXbykH3zIb8FzhQ.

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