Candidate vying for one of two open seats discusses his plans in interview
■ Dennis Fletcher / Contributed
In a live online interview with Eddie George of Hemet Eye News, a news group on Facebook, Joel Lopez spent over a hour describing his views on his community as a candidate for the San Jacinto City Council.
Joel Lopez and four other candidates are running for two seats that are open for the San Jacinto City Council. Council seats occupied by Alonso Ledezma and Scott Miller are open for election. Steven DiMemmo, Jeremy Fontes, Brian Reaser and Mikel C. Van der Linden are the other candidates.
Lopez said he is committed to giving his full dedication to the city as a council member to attack the city’s problems. This would include helping resolve the homeless problem, improving transportation, and working towards better safety for the citizens.
According to Lopez, he would like to see the City of San Jacinto and City of Hemet to create a joint plan and funding to tackle the valley-wide problem of homeless people living on the streets. He declared he has a heart for the homeless that need a place to sleep and shower.
Lopez advocated bringing the two cities of San Jacinto and Hemet closer together for other joint projects as well including transportation, supporting seniors, and other efforts.
When asked what the top issues are that San Jacinto faces today, Lopez responded immediately with the homeless situation. This was a recurring theme throughout the hour-long live interview. He plans to coordinate with Riverside County efforts to tackle the situation, recognizing that the San Jacinto and Hemet homeless problem is a county-wide issue.
Another problem he considers paramount is addressing the cities’ youth and their need for safe, productive places to spend their free time. Lopez said he is interested in more recreational facilities for the youth. He claimed he sees a lot of kids on the street that want to quit school – carrying around guns or selling drugs. “We could teach them another way and start a lot of programs,” urged Lopez.
“We have a lot of talent in our city that is going to waste among our youth” he pointed out.
Another priority of Lopez’ is the commercial cultivation of marijuana under the careful control of the city. This would produce an unstated amount of revenue that the city would have available for its growth plans.
To help the city, Lopez wants to bring in outside investors. He also wants the city to grow their own commercial-grade marijuana with their own dispensary using up to 80 employees to operate. The interview pointed out that Lopez’ approach differs from the current ideals of the City of San Jacinto to allow growers to produce marijuana in a variety of ways.
Lopez had a long list of needs for the city that included building more parks for the youth population and shelters for the homeless. He said he wants to clean up our streets by hiring more policemen, getting better lighting for the streets, and installing more bike lanes, among other ideas. He advocated using the old city hall at five-points for mothers and other homeless that don’t have a home, instead of letting it sit empty like it has been for many years.
In regards to the Homeless Outreach “HOT” Team, Lopez supports the effort in Hemet. He pointed out in the interview that senior citizens are the ones taking the brunt of the lawlessness that is the homeless population. He said he wants to see the San Jacinto Police utilize more resources to respond more quickly to calls for assistance. “They are risking their lives for us and need to see them getting more help to do their job,” said Lopez.
Lopez then went on to address gangs: “They also need help. They are a bunch of kids hanging around that need hope and talent to focus on them. There is really nothing in the city for them. No municipal pools to cool off at.”
As for other issues such as rent control in mobile and senior home communities, Lopez claimed that the park residents need to bring their problem to the city council so they can further investigate. In regards to rental caps in San Jacinto, Lopez advocated calling rent lords on their scams where they exist.
This candidate has agreed to participate in any open forum with other candidates for the city council. He is the owner of Discount Battery Center located at 814 South State Street in San Jacinto. For more information call 951-651-6003 or visit www.discountbatterycenter.us.
Joel Lopez is married to Sabrina Lopez and they have four children who are attending Saint Hyacinth Academy in San Jacinto.
This article was excerpted from a live interview video on the Hemet Eye News Facebook page.