■ Mary Ann Morris / Editor
To paraphrase Bob Dylan, The times, they are a-changing at the San Jacinto City Council. Not only did the council vote to meet twice monthly, on the first and third Tuesdays of the month beginning in March, but Closed Sessions will now be held prior to the regular meeting from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The regular open meeting will commence at 6:30 p.m. It was also changing of the guard at the San Jacinto City Council meeting Feb. 7, in more ways than one. Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Joe Borja announced his retirement, with Capt. Leonard Purvis taking the helm of the RCSD Hemet Station effective Feb. 15. Borja served as a law enforcement officer for 29 years and is eager to retire.
“We want to say goodbye to one of our partners in law enforcement in the Valley, Capt. Joe Borja,” said San Jacinto Police Lt. Chief John Salisbury. “We are sorry to see him go. At the same time, we want to welcome our new captain of the Hemet Station, Leonard Purvis.”
“Thank you for your service, Capt. Borja, and your commitment to all of us and helping us have a great place to live,” said Mayor Scott Miller. “We’re glad San Jacinto was your last detail. We appreciate your service.”
Miller welcomed Purvis, who is no stranger to San Jacinto; he’s lived in this community for almost 27 years.
“Your concerns are my concerns. It’s nice to see friendly faces,” said Purvis. “Last time I worked in San Jacinto was when the police department transitioned to the Sheriff’s Department; I got to work with City Manager Hults and it was a good experience. I’m looking forward to being here. Please reach out to myself or Lt. Chief Salisbury for anything,” said Capt. Purvis.
Borja’s plans? “To start living my life,” he quipped. And Menifee’s loss is San Jacinto’s gain, as San Jacinto scooped up Rob Johnson to become its new city manager effective immediately. Former City Manager Tim Hults announced his intention to retire last year, and a search has been underway since. Hults will stay on during the transition and will also work on special projects. During the public comments portion of the meeting, a citizen from another community spoke out against Johnson’s hiring, however, the council discussed the strategy behind hiring Johnson and focused on the many accomplishments made during Johnson’s tenure in Menifee, most notably developing relationships with developers and negotiating for the construction of many sit-down restaurants, which are desperately needed in San Jacinto, said Councilwoman Crystal Ruiz. “What we did in Menifee was a shotgun approach,” said Johnson. “For seven years I worked in Menifee, the last four as the city manager. We reached out on multiple fronts with multiple opportunities, but were very strategic in our focus. We put business ordinances in place. We offered incentives for developers and for certain types of businesses to come in town. We talked to the people, and what they wanted was sit-down restaurants. The first two years we focused all of our efforts on just sit-down restaurants. We need to fix our infrastructure, our streets, curbs, gutters and sidewalks, and then make things available for developers to come in.”
Ruiz feels San Jacinto is in a unique position to capitalize on the relationships Johnson built with developers over the years during his tenure in Menifee. “The first year we went to the International Council of Shopping Centers and we approached developers, nobody knew who we were, we didn’t even have a map of our region,” recalled Johnson. “The next year, we came back with a map and talked to 60 or 70 developers. The third year, we came back again and these developers are starting to recognize our name and starting to come to our booth. Then the next year they started seeking us out; we had 45 meetings in our booth. Every year we met with the same people. The last development we did in Menifee had 99 percent leased up with 26 different retailers before we even broke ground.”
Johnson says he is a working city manager, and isn’t content to sit behind a desk. He also shares the former city manager’s disdain for neckties.
The terms of Johnson’s contract include a base salary of $16,667.67 per month, and he will be eligible for an annual salary increase of 3 percent beginning in July and an incremental increase of 1 percent on each anniversary thereafter. He will accrue 160 hours of vacation time, 96 hours sick leave and 96 hours of management leave annually. Besides the typical benefits of retirement, medical and life insurance, Johnson will also receive a monthly automobile allowance of $500 and a cell phone allowance of $75 monthly.