Elections are coming – and there are two seats available on Murrieta’s City Council.
With four candidates in the running – two for district three, and two for district four, candidates filed necessary paperwork with the city so that they’d have a chance at the seats in the general election, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. According to the city, it 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.
Candidates David Kolk and Lori Stone are running for Murrieta’s District 4 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.
Can you give some background information as to why you feel you’re qualified to represent District 4?
Kolk: I retired May 30/June 1 as the assistant city manager for the city of Colton. I spent the previous 20 years as a utility director for the Colton Electric Department and the Colton Utility Department, which was electric, water, waste water, public works and trash, so I have a long history in public service and am very familiar with what it takes to run a city.
Background-wise, I have my doctorate in economics from University of California Riverside, and a master’s degree from San Diego and a bachelor’s degree from University of California Riverside. I’ve worked extensively on macroeconomic policy, primarily business cycles, and energy economics so I’m familiar with what goes on in the city and the way in which the macroeconomy affects the local economy.
Stone: I moved to Murrieta in 1976 at the age of 14, so I have seen Murrieta grow from a very small town to the vibrant city that it is today, and I do believe that that’s due to our past and our current city leaders. My first career I owned a chain of beauty supplies for more than 17 years, so I understand the private entity. I understand what it’s like to be a business owner and sign the front of the check.
After I sold my chain of beauty supplies, I went to work for my brother, who was 3rd District supervisor Jeff Stone, and I was his legislative assistant to women’s issues. During that, those 10 years that I worked for him, I advocated for sexual assault, domestic violence, homeless, breast cancer, just to name a few issues. I also became a county commissioner for the Riverside County Commission for Women, and I was also a chairwoman. And during my time with the commission for women, we did a couple of outreaches and one of them was domestic violence. We did another event on sex offenders, and during that time Riverside County was featured on the show called “To Catch a Predator.” For about a year and a half to two years I traveled all over Riverside County, and I educated nonprofits and women’s organizations on how to protect their children from registered sex offenders – in addition, making sure that registered sex offenders were in compliance with city and county ordinances. At the commission level, we did an outreach – this was back in 2009, and it was the changing face of homelessness. And during the recession when I worked for my brother there were many, many phone calls with families like myself that were losing everything due to the recession, and we found that our food pantries were empty. So we did an outreach on the changing face of homelessness and I actually went undercover as a homeless person, and it shows the stereotypical type of homeless versus an educated person standing on a street corner asking for money to feed their children.
So these are a few issues that I addressed when I worked for Jeff Stone, and I was very humbled by all the social issues and understanding how government works and the resources that are available at the county level.
So I do have an understanding about the public sector as well. So when Kelly Seyarto won the primary, because he’s running for state assembly, he and I sat down and we talked about me running for his seat, which was the 4th District in Murrieta. And he gave me his blessing and he felt that as a business owner, understanding social issues, that I’ve always been a proponent of the private and public partnership – we can’t depend solely on the government, we can’t depend solely on the private sector, and what better partnership is between the two. Being that I have the experience in both, he felt that I would be a great person to represent Murrieta, and so here I am, I’m running for Murrieta City Council.
Murrieta’s big on local and small businesses, what’s your stance, or where would you like to see Murrieta progressing with small businesses?
Kolk: Small business I support. I’m not a great supporter of the mega corporations that seem to be running America today. I’m a strong supporter of small and local businesses, but when I look at Murrieta today there’s three or four things that I’d like to address. First, this whole COVID-19 issue – I’m very unhappy with the response of the county to the COVID-19 emergency in this “Masks are optional; They’re some kind of intrusion on your rights” – no. Masks are a way in keeping the rest of us safe, and I’d like to see the city and county for that matter enforce public safety as a way of stopping or slowing the COVID-19 pandemic with as little impact on business as possible. By that, we’re going to see another wave or two or three until it finally goes away, it’s kind of like water sloshing around in a cup. We get it down over here, and it’s going to pop up in Illinois; we get it in Illinois and it’ll pop up in Texas; we get it down in Texas and it’ll pop back up here again. We need to control it where we’re going to be going through these periodic shutdowns which are the worst possible thing for businesses, particularly the small businesses that don’t have the financial ability to shut and give up their revenue for a few months while they wait for the pandemic to go away. Make masks mandatory and enforce that edict.
Secondly, I’ve never been a great fan of urban sprawl, and here in Murrieta, and I’ve been here for 30 years, we started out as the slow growth or no growth part of Rancho California at the time with Temecula being the big growth. We need to slow down residential growth until business investment and infrastructure catch up with us. Otherwise, we’re just going to continue to have more and more traffic problems and more and more financial problems in the city government bubble. By and large, residential communities do not pay for themselves. Growth, or the revenue that you get, comes from the business side to support the services that you offer to the residential side. If we’re going to continue to allow unfettered growth going on here, we need to really increase development fees so that the new residents aren’t being subsidized by the current residents that’s happening right now.
Third, land-use planning, we have the general plan and we’re quite proud of the fact that we have 52 parks and 25 miles of trails, but we can do better with an active transportation plan to get people out of their cars and that’s a twofold issue: one, you just have to look at Washington Avenue or Jefferson Avenue or Nutmeg Street in the morning to see all the people who are just walking their dog up and down exercising, but an active transportation plan to encourage bike lanes and walking areas and remove cars. Old Town would be a perfect place for that. You can’t stop all cars going down because the businesses are all right there, but you can stop them going down Washington Avenue between Kalmia and Ivy streets, and put some of the cars to the side streets so that they stay off Washington Avenue and that becomes more of a walking area.
Finally, I’m pro-cannabis, pro-marijuana. I don’t see any reason that the city shouldn’t allow the sale of marijuana within the city. We allow guns, so therefore let’s allow marijuana.
Stone: The small businesses are the backbone of our community, if not the nation. And as a small-business owner, if I’m elected, I would love to partner with our chamber of commerce. There’s an event called the International Council of Shopping Centers in Vegas, and this is one of the prime events where cities go and they lobby for businesses to come to their community. One of the things that a retail developer looks for, No. 1, is quality of life. And being that we are one of the safest cities in the nation that is something a retail developer really looks for. And being that we have a strong chamber of commerce. We have an innovation center that’s like no other, and with the quality of life that we have, big box businesses, retail developers, they are wanting to come to Murrieta. If elected, I look so forward to going to that event in March and stand with our city and stand with our chamber and negotiate with new businesses that will bring new tax dollars and have new job opportunities for the residents of Murrieta.
If elected, what is something you’d like to see the most improved in the city?
Kolk: Most improved is going to be traffic flow. It is absolutely ridiculous trying to drive through when you’re on Clinton Keith or Rancho California roads, where a number of side streets are there that have one car coming in but stop you along Clinton Keith Road where there’s 40 cars waiting. It’s getting worse with the new apartments that were built up there at Clinton Keith Road and Interstate 215. We need to synchronize the lights and ensure that priority of traffic is east/west on Clinton Keith Road and north/south on Washington Avenue and all directions on California Oaks Road. But traffic is getting a little bit ridiculous to the point where pretty soon, you already see it on Clinton Keith Road, you start reaching gridlock. A few more homes out there, particularly when Costco goes in, and we will have gridlock.
Stone: Well, we definitely have an issue with our water and drain system in Old Town Murrieta. We have four municipalities, and until we address the drainage issues down in Old Town – as I’m walking precincts people are saying “what about Old Town? Why can’t we be like other communities” – and until that is addressed, we will not be able to have new development down there, so that’s No. 1, is making sure the water, the drain storm system, everything is addressed so we can have new development down in Old Town Murrieta. That would be a No. 1 priority. Then secondly, the golden triangle. The golden triangle is the last prime piece of property in Southern California. And this is our opportunity to be very innovative, to really think outside the box, to look toward the future and what can we implement in the golden triangle that would be such a regional retail development where we would draw from San Diego, Orange County, the desert, the mountains. I believe as the last large piece of property in Southern California, that also is a top priority, so between the golden triangle and Old Town those would be my two top priority for Murrieta.
I have two boys, and they both serve our country. They’re both in the Navy – my eldest is an aircraft commander and my youngest is in a nuclear power program. So as a proud Navy mother, one of the things that I love about Murrieta is their veterans’ program. Anything that I can do to support our veterans, the programs that they have or additional resources, in addition to supporting our public safety. I stand behind our men and women in blue, our fire department, and again because we’ve been rated No. 1 and No. 2 for the size of our city, so definitely public safety and definitely our veterans are two additional things that I would love to support. I’ll do everything that I can, especially with our public safety, in regards to trainings, for equipment. I want to make sure they have everything they need, and anything that I can do to help our veterans with resources. I want to be their partner as well.
Lexington Howe can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.