Steve DiMemmo is set to tackle San Jacinto’s toughest jobs
■ By Chris Smith / Advisory Editor
There are people who care about their community, and there are people who get into gear to do something about improving their community. San Jacinto City Council Candidate Steve DiMemmo is both.
A former law enforcement officer who has successfully started and run a number of businesses in fields ranging from construction to health care, DiMemmo is a can-do guy who has a lot to offer when it comes to solving big challenges.
“I’m interested in solving problems, not passing the buck,” says DiMemmo when asked about addressing the issue of homelessness in the city. While some on the current city council are more interested in cleaning out homeless camps with a bulldozer and scattering the residents to the four winds, DiMemmo is in favor of a gentler, but more thoughtful – and perhaps effective – approach of addressing their needs.
“The city needs to create a policy to deal with the homeless situation and get the nonprofits, churches, and businesses together,” he says. “Valley Restart helps out a lot because they deal with the families, but we need to deal with the individuals who are sleeping on the streets and in the parks. We need to address their health issues and help get them cleaned up so they can get a job.
Different homeless types
“There are three types of homeless,” says DiMemmo. “There are the unfortunate ones who have fallen on hard times, there are the mentally disabled, and there is the criminal element who may have been released from prison. We need to come together and help the first two groups with services. The third type needs to join the program or – be removed from the city.”
DiMemmo envisions a cooperative effort between San Jacinto, neighboring cities, and the county to address the health – and perhaps even the housing – needs of the homeless in order to give them the foundation from which to get back on their feet. He also intends to seek support from local businesses who can provide needed services to the homeless either for free or at reduced rates.
Spruce up downtown
Along with his philosophy toward the homeless issue, is DiMemmo’s belief that the downtown needs to be significantly spruced up. He decries what he says was the city’s wasted $8 million investment on the “gateway project,” a planned commercial development that he believes now will never be built.
“We need to deal with the existing infrastructure before we do anything else,” says DiMemmo. “What if we had taken that $8 million and used it to fix up Main Street?” He says the current council has “a lot of plans” but has had trouble getting things accomplished.
“If you drive through downtown you see the homeless and undesirables; businesses don’t want to stay open at night because it’s not safe. That downtown area needs to be taken care of,” he says.
Casino is game-changer
DiMemmo believes the city will be affected greatly by the new Soboba Casino in ways for which it may not be prepared. Traffic, for one, will be heavy, many more people will be coming to town, and the 1,000 or more employees that the casino will hire will need housing and services. “We don’t have the appropriate infrastructure right now to deal with the influx of people, and we’re going to have to address that. It can be managed, but I don’t think we’re quite there.”
DiMemmo acknowledges the city may need to spend money to fulfill its obligations to meet these needs, but he is adamantly opposed to new taxes. When asked how he would fund any needed upgrades to the current infrastructure, he says he has a plan but isn’t ready to share it yet with his election opponents. “If elected, I want to find a way to generate revenue without taxation. I’m a staunch opponent of new taxes.” DiMemmo also is in favor of Proposition 6 on the November ballot that would rescind the state’s latest gasoline tax.
DiMemmo has sat on the city council before and, as a resident since 1996, has a view of the city’s history over the past 20 years. His two sons go to San Jacinto Valley Academy, and his wife, Christine, is a dean at Riverside City Community College. As a longtime resident of San Jacinto, one of his personal frustrations is that no one ever completed the memorial to wounded veterans that was conceived back in 2011. Known as the Purple Heart Path, the section of the city’s park dedicated to veterans was never finished, he says.
“We voted to create a memorial to veterans who had been wounded and that never got completed. If I’m elected, I’m going to work to get the Purple Heart Path finished as a tribute to our veterans,” says DiMemmo, who notes that the Purple Heart is a medal presented to wounded veterans by the President of the United States.
DiMemmo believes he’s the right person for the job not only because of his experience working for the federal government – departments of Treasury, Justice, and Drug Enforcement – but because of his track record in business. He owns SJ Renovations, Inc., a local construction company, and recently opened two new pharmacies, one in San Jacinto and another in Hemet – United Family Pharmacy. He currently is working on a master’s degree in public administration, a field in which he already holds a bachelor’s degree.
“We have some challenges locally, and the city needs a plan to come up with solutions. Then we need to elicit support from our citizens, area governments, businesses and nonprofits to address these challenges and put the plan in place. We have the resources to do it; we just need good leadership.”