Editor’s note: The seat for Riverside County’s 3rd District supervisor is on the June 7 primary ballot. Three candidates are seeking the seat Chuck Washington currently holds. The two challengers are Randon Lane of Murrieta and Shellie Milne of Hemet. The top two vote getters will compete on the November ballot and the winner will be the next supervisor.
The Town Crier has interviewed each candidate. (See next three pages.)
In March 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Washington to fill the remainder of former Supv. Jeff Stone’s term after he was elected to the state Senate. All three have city council experience. Washington served on the Murrieta and then the Temecula city councils. Lane is on the Murrieta City Council and serving his second term as mayor. Milne is currently on the Hemet City Council.
Although Chuck Washington has been Riverside County 3rd District supervisor for 14 months, he is no stranger to elections and politics. From 1995 to 2000, he served on the Murrieta City Council and from 2003 to 2015, when he was appointed to replace 3rd District Supervisor Jeff Stone, he served on the Temecula City Council. During his time on both councils, he also served as mayor of the cities.
Serving as supervisor has been an education, according to Washington. Not only has he had to learn about the issues confronting the district, but the special challenges to each part of the district, as well as the broader issues confounding the entire county.
This opportunity to see and to wrestle with both the comprehensive and the specific issues has been hugely beneficial, Washington said. “Neither challenger has had the chance yet.”
Washington, a Democrat, describes himself as a fiscal conservative and believes achieving a balanced budget is the biggest issue facing the board. “We need to keep tight reins on the purse strings,” he stressed. “The Board of Supervisors controls the purse strings and we need to manage the purse strings better.
“The 3rd District is part of the whole county and there is no way the 3rd District survives when the county sinks,” Washington emphasized. “We need to stop the bleeding.”
The growth of county staff salaries is a result of agreements between the board and unions prior to him joining the board, going back to 2012, according to Washington.
But Washington is not single-minded. New spending may be necessary and productive if it originates from the same thinking as occurred at the county medical center in the past two years. The center has eliminated its consistent annual deficits and looks for programs or equipment that will ultimately save money. “We’re at same place if we need to reorganize. We should see more efficient spending of public funds if that will provide a return on investment,” he added.
Washington is looking forward to the results of KPMG’s study of the county’s criminal justice system. “In 18 to 24 months, we should find significant savings,” he said.
He also stressed his time on the Temecula City Council that prepared him for the budget analysis and work on the board. “It is not just cutting red ink,” he said. “Those challenges created a difference between me and Lane and Milne. I’ve supported job creation and economic development.”
Washington pointed to the core values he supports. They begin with creating a safe community and helping the economy thrive, which is what he will promote for Idyllwild — economic development and quality of life.
Law enforcement and fire safety are also important components that define the Hill’s quality of life, he noted. But transportation and roads are critical and need to be maintained. The local infrastructure is stressed more than other areas in the county because of the seasons felt here.
Then he stressed, “It is not just roads which are the challenge. We need to help water districts maintain enough water to support economic development.”
“Idyllwild is probably one of the most interesting places in the entire district,” he observed. “Families, children, baby boomers, business owners all like their independent spirits but are looking to just do something useful in the community. They are happy to be there. And when they see things to do they step up and do it. Very few have their hands out.”