Elections are coming – and there are two seats available on the Murrieta City Council.
With four candidates in the running – two for District 3, and two for District 4, candidates filed necessary paperwork with the city so that they’d have a chance at the seats in the Nov. 3 election.
According to the city, the election will finalize the transition to district-based city council elections which began in November 2018.
Council members Jonathan Ingram, Christi White and Scott Vinton will continue to serve their four-year terms, ending December 2022.
Lisa DeForest and Steven Brown are the candidates for Murrieta’s District 3 seat.
Valley News reached out to the two candidates to gather some more information for voters as they decide who would be best to fill the seat. The following Q&A includes information and stances on certain concerns within the city.
Valley News: Can you give some background information as to why you feel you’re qualified to represent district three?
DeForest: I’m an experienced leader, and I’ve served the community in many, many ways. I served two terms on the school board as a trustee, and the budget there was over $200 million, which was quite a large budget considering our city budget – it’s almost twice our city budget, so I have been in community service for my entire life. I’ve always felt that I was given so much by the community and the people that live in it. I’ve always been taught and always felt that I needed to give back, so that’s why I think public service is very important.
I have had the honor of being president of the Western Science Center. I was president of the United Way Women’s Leadership. I took the Murrieta Valley High School boys’ lacrosse team from having absolutely no money to now a completely funded CIF sport.
My husband and I moved from a 28-acre horse ranch to Murrieta, and while not far, I was still able to maintain my practice I started 22 years ago. It was a hard decision to move from a place where we’d been for quite a while and Murrieta has just been absolutely amazing.
I was vice president and termed out at the Chamber of Commerce. Also, I was instrumental in starting an organization called Valley Watch, a grassroots community awareness for teaching people how to know who is living around them registered sex offenders, using the Megan’s Law website. That group was so effective that it was picked up by Riverside County.
I’m great with people, and I love people. I like to listen to what they have to say, and I think that being a council person I know that I can affect their quality of life. I will make good decisions and will do my due diligence to make educated, good decisions, and I think leading with transparency and being genuine is also super important for a leader.
Brown: Working from what I would consider the entry level of a company and seeing them turn into a corporation, and working my way through school and all the way up to becoming director for a corporation – with that experience going through the hardships of dealing with work and life, and making decisions getting up to the corporate level working with CEOs, presidents of the company and dealing with employees and dealing with the budgets has given me the understanding, the appreciation of what it takes to be a good leader in a good company.
With those skills, those basic skills that I’ve developed over the years and acquiring my master’s degree while going to school at night, I know what it takes to run a company, run a corporation, budgeting and dealing with people and the different personalities that are involved with dealing with multiple issues out there.
With my leadership skills and seeing what the good leadership in Murrieta has done, I wanted to see if I can help and participate and give back to such a great community. Knowing the issues that are up right now and having to deal with them and seeing how they’re being dealt with, I think our leadership that we currently have is doing a great job.
When I found out that Gene Wunderlich was not going to run again, I wanted to see if I could help with Murrieta and continue with the growth path that they’re on and take them into the future with the skills that I’ve learned being a leader and directing organizations and helping people come to commonality that is for the greater good.
Valley News: Murrieta is big on small businesses and local – what’s your stance on that?
DeForest: Small businesses I believe are the key to our community. Small businesses make up most of our jobs and workforce. So I think there’s a statistic that said, what, 90% of all jobs are from small businesses with 20 employees or less. So I think that factor and that statistic itself said that we definitely need to support our small businesses, we need to help them thrive after COVID-19 by doing whatever we can to do that.
I know the chamber of commerce has been amazing doing reopening packages and they’ve been really instrumental in giving out information – I know that I’ve utilized their information on the PPP and all the loan information. They had some amazing webinars for small businesses so I think supporting the chamber of commerce to continue to reach out to the small businesses to encourage them, and I know that the city’s also done some small grants to try to help that have been very instrumental in keeping businesses open.
Brown: We need more small businesses, and we need to promote it more. Really when you say small business, I see the mom-and-pop stores that are out there and helping them, and I’ve always tried to support them myself and encourage anybody that I come in contact with in the residents of Murrieta and surrounding areas to support their local businesses to help them thrive.
I understand us as being more like a bedroom community where we have a lot of people going down to San Diego or going to Los Angeles to work. I commuted to the Los Angeles area by Monrovia, and commuting just drains you. And I’d like to see if we can get some more manufacturing into Murrieta and more businesses that will help our residents not have to commute so far and be able to spend more time with the families, because family is my priority. I’ve been married for 37 years, and I understand what it takes to raise a family in a good community and we have to have small businesses to support that.
Valley News: If elected, what is something you would like to see improved in the city?
DeForest: I would love to see the city’s ability to track new businesses and jobs improve. I know that a lot of our community drives, and it would be really nice if we had some more high-tech jobs in the area. I think that the city has started doing that with the innovation center, I think that’s amazing to do a public and private partnership which they have done, but Murrieta’s really amazing because we have an incredibly young, educated community.
I was a microbiologist before I opened two practices, and so I think that the biotech and the whole technical industry is so important to get some of those good-paying jobs. And we’re in a good spot; we have five hospitals around us, I think; maybe we’re up to six, and we’re kind of in the hub and we do have some space to grow. I’d like to see the city attracting new businesses that could support people to actually live, eat, work, everything in this beautiful town of Murrieta.
Brown: The main goal in improvements that we have right now of course is having to deal with COVID-19. I mean, that’s No. 1. Families are of course the second goal. When I say families, I’m talking about not just what we would call a nuclear family or the families that have the mother and father at home or working and the children going to school. It’s all types of families you know because we have multigenerational families that live in our community, and we need to be able to support them as much as we can.
We have some very good support that I’ve seen so far and I want to support that as much as I can, and financially that’s where I think we’ve got to give back to our community. The revenue that comes in will be focused a lot on providing avenues for our youth, for single mothers, for older adults and for the families. The child care and the support that we need and our education, of course, has been stellar in Murrieta. Before I came to Murrieta, my children were going to private school, but when I came to Murrieta, I did not see a need for that.
I want to see what we can do to provide Murrieta with their own power source and also the internet. We know recently how desperate all of us use the internet and need the internet, and I don’t see why we can’t provide that as a free service. Why aren’t we connected better than we are today instead of having buses and stuff? Why don’t we have some type of a subway system that connects to Los Angeles and San Diego? And those are some of the things that I’d like to see us take Murrieta into for the future.
I know all these things aren’t cheap. It’s costly, but it’s something that I think is necessary for us to be more of an independent city that we are dealing with all the things that we have. I think we need to be paying more attention to the diversity that we’re lacking in Murrieta, and one very small example would be our fire department. I have three daughters, so I’m very sensitive to the females, and the females in work and the opportunities that are available, and I look at the fire department and I don’t see one fire female. I know they’ve had a couple in the past, but they’ve left. What are we doing to recruit and retain more of the female gender into our workforces around Murrieta to support them a lot more than what we have done in the past?
To see each candidate’s statement with more background information about them submitted to the city, visit https://www.murrietaca.gov/378/Elections.
Lexington Howe can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.