Q: Why did you decide to run again??

A: Overall, I felt that we were accomplishing a lot in the city and I felt that I had more to do. We’re not finished with what we started. I hope that one full term will help finish it and I can get out and let somebody else come in.

Q: Everybody says something needs to be done, but it is usually the same old same old when they get into office.

A: The council I was elected was the first actually to start to clean up our streets. We got CR&R involved. I worked with Chris Lopez, the City Manager, and told him that we needed to get it done, and I pushed for it and so we pushed together and he involved CR&R. One day, we got them out there and cleaned up the streets. The day was planned. Different clubs became involved – the Rotary, American Legion, VFW, other clubs and churches. The American Legion came in with two trucks and two trailers going out and picking up trash that was left on the streets. They made 10 to 15 pickups. Some Legionnaires kept count of how many vehicles that came and dumped trash at CR&R. The final count was 97 vehicles.

Q: Over what period of time?

A: I believe we started at 8 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon in one day. We had the city clean up just that one day and it was amazing. Trucks, cars, station wagons. We were planning it as a quarterly event. I haven’t seen anything happen or be talked about since that first time, but it was a happy day for one and all. The community coming together to accomplish something besides talk. Something being done to benefit the city. Working together. I was so thankful for the people that participated. The Rotarians and the Legion each providing almost 25 bodies. There were some other organizations, but I can’t recall them all by name at the moment. VFW was one. Churches. It was a great day for our community.

Q: People will dump couches and beds or refrigerators in front of their homes and apartment buildings. How do you deal with people like that?

A: Code enforcement should be out there covering the streets. They have no business sitting around at a desk in an office doing nothing. They need to be out on the streets and when they see something wrong they should be issuing tickets. That’s their responsibility.

Q: I’ve seen them drive right by stacks of old furniture and not stop.

A: So have I. That’s part of the problem. They drive like they have blinders on. They don’t want to get involved. I’m sure they don’t like to hear me say that but I’ve seen it for myself. I’m a worker. Not all of my Saturdays are available because I have other events on my schedule, but I go out there with the Living Wage. I wear a purple shirt showing that we care. It’s called “Adopt a Block.” We pick up trash from the streets. Picking the worst area and go out with 20 to 50 people at a time, often going separate ways into different areas picking up trash. We have grabbers and trash bags donated. Home Depot has been very generous in donating a lot of trash bags and grabbers to help us out.

Q: We have fewer police officers now than before Measure “U.” How do you feel about that?

A: That’s a problem we discussed during the five months that I was on the council. A big problem is recruits. They come, take a year’s training and then move on to a better-paying position. We often discussed that at the council. We need a clause in their contracts that stipulates they stay with us for a set period of time—giving them a bonus every 2-1/2 years, say, up to ten years to make our investment worthwhile. And if they leave before the period is up, then they pay back the bonus for that time promised and not given. An incentive clause, if you will. Then we haven’t wasted the city’s investment.

Q: What about our street drug situation, and we certainly have one?

A: A good question. I’ve seen this before. I grew up in Whittier where my mother was president of the Women’s Club. I had my run-ins with the wrong crowd. Got picked on, chased and beat up until I started fighting back. Once I found out I was a natural fighter and could fight, I did, which kept me from being beaten up all the time. I saw how drugs came into the neighborhoods. If a young man doesn’t have someone he can look up to, guide him as a kid, these gangs become his role models. Not good.

Q: Do you believe a kid is raised right more by example than by being preached to all the time?

A: Absolutely. When I was growing up in the streets, it was easy to get involved in the wrong things with the wrong people. I had my problems. However, I always wanted to lead to help the younger kids. I actually started my own group in Whittier. I had a truck, and on weekends I would take a group of kids to the beach. We would mow lawns and stuff for spending money and a day at the beach exposed them to a clean, fresh world they didn’t have on the streets at home. And boy, did they love riding in the back of a pickup truck. They can’t do that anymore, but it was one great thrill for a young guy back then. The kids enjoyed those trips, having lunch, getting out of the neighborhoods and showing them there is something else in the world besides gangs and fighting. If they get their influence from the wrong people, they will do wrong things. Hemet is ripe for that kind of investment in our youth. We can do that in Hemet and more people ought to invest their time with our youth, setting an example. I want to do that here in our community. We have Boxing for Christ, but not all kids want to box. They want to be involved in other things, like music and dancing, for instance. I would like to be involved with the local skating rink. It is a healthy outlet and kids love it. They are brought together in a healthy situation, not a soon-to-be criminal event. We definitely need more youth activity centers. I wanted to keep at that. Instead, I got bounced over a technicality that was really nobody’s fault.

Q: Some say your opponent in the 2020 election was just a poor sport.

A: I’ve heard that.

Q: How do you feel about your competition this time?

A: I like Marc Searl.

Q: Funny. He said the same thing about you.

A: We talked the other night at a Seven Hills Town Hall. He seems like a decent. We had an exchange of views. We agree on things like having enough police officers and safety. Of course, we don’t agree on everything. If we did, one of us shouldn’t be running.

Q: What happened to all the Measure “U” money?

A: They say it goes for police and fire equipment and communications equipment and stuff like that—all part of public safety. The bulk should be spent on keeping cops on the street where they are needed. People have more of a tendency to behave themselves on the streets when police cruisers are more visible in the streets and neighborhoods. I’m pro-police, pro-fire fighters, pro first responders, and we need to properly equip them and have more of them doing public safety jobs that they are trained for. They shouldn’t be the community’s babysitters and they don’t want to be. Good police and fire departments doing the jobs they’re paid to do are the ones that guarantee us a crime-free city.

Q: Good cops who let bad cops exist. Is that a problem?

A: Always. When you let a cop do something bad, it reflects on the entire force, and something should be done to keep those guys out of the law

Q: Anything else you would like to tackle if you get elected?

A: Bring in more business. This city desperately needs new business. Businesses who hire local help. It is not right that so many of our people work and shop outside the valley. Because it is more convenient during lunchtime and right after work, they shop because by the time they get home, they are tired from traffic, hungry and just want to relax.

Q: Hemet has for a long time been known to be rough on small business owners.

A: That’s true and I’d like to see that change.

Q: Corporations can fight city hall with expensive lawyers—an advantage not shared by the small business owner. Permits drive them.

A: And I’ve seen that up close. For instance, all the hassle we had at the Legion Hall getting solar on our roof in downtown Hemet. We went through all kinds of problems that were really unnecessary. Three and a half months after installation and we barely go live because of the city having the wrong billing address. A problem between the City of Hemet and Edison, but we suffered the consequences. This happens all too frequently when a small business tries to open in Hemet and it shouldn’t. We should welcome them into our community and make them feel at home, not long strangers from another world.

Q: Sometimes, one person with power can hold up all progress. Something about he who has the money has the power.

A: Whoever has the money has the power, I’ve been told.

A: I know.

No matter whether or not one agrees with Joe Males, he is a straight shooter and as a few members of American Legion Post 53 told me, “If Joe were organizing city council like he has this Post, we would have no problems in Hemet.

Just sayin’ [email protected]

Rusty Straight | Senior Reporter

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