Murrieta City Council Candidate Paul Clay is back by popular demand and has a good idea of issues he will fight for should he get elected.
Clay, 54, ran unsuccessfully for the office in 2008 after he lost in the primary election in a bid for Congress. He garnered 11.15 percent of the vote in the city council election—a fair odd considering the playing field at the time, Clay said.
“It was a large field—seven or eight people as I recall...Two names were pretty well known—Randon Lane and Doug McAllister—so it was a pretty stiff race,” Clay said.
Clay is among six candidates this election cycle for two seats on Murrieta City Council.
A history teacher at Heritage High School in Romoland, Clay said he hadn’t planned on running in this election. He said he picked up a candidate packet three days before the deadline after several local Democrats asked him to run.
“I was really reluctant because I have run three times. I will probably at some point run for another higher office, but I wasn’t looking to run this time."
Clay was the Democratic candidate for State Senate in 2010, when he received 31.19 percent of the vote to Republican challenger Joel Anderson's 65.25 percent.
“What motivated me this time around, I guess, was Gary Stein had pulled papers and I just thought we needed a more moderate alternative...of course we found out he couldn’t even run.”
(Gary Stein garnered media attention when he was discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps for making derogatory statements about President Obama on the Facebook page, Tea Party Marines. He intended to run in the city council election until it was learned he lived outside city limits.)
Clay is proud to call himself a Democrat, though he acknowledges city council is a nonpartisan office.
“I want people to know I’m a Democrat,” Clay said. “I have a problem with the fact that they keep it secret. I understand that they try to create this idea of non-partisanship but it really doesn’t play out that way because people will find out what party the candidates are and they will vote their party line anyway. What if you are actually voting for a person in a party that you don’t like? That is unfair to the voters.”
Anti- Liberty Quarry
Clay said one of the first, most important things if he is elected is to continue resistance against the quarry.
“Murrieta will be affected; it is very close, and even if it just affected Temecula we are too close together for one not to be affected,” Clay said. “It is an issue that thousands of people in this area are very concerned with.”
Clay said he was involved in a lot of the early anti-quarry meetings, including participating in a march in Temecula.
His opposition comes after educating himself, he said.
“Initially I was actually in support of it because I read the nice $10 glossy pamphlet that was mailed to everybody. I am reading that and saying OK, yes I agree.
“But as I started to find out more about it I realized the problems were monumental. The project is unneeded and the promises mostly have changed since they first made them. It was all going to go to San Diego—all the quarry, because they said this was where the need was.
“I know a little about economics; I am a former salesman and I know they will ship the rock to where people will buy it, and if it is right through our town they will ship it through it.”
He also alleged a misrepresentation of the amount of jobs Granite Construction proposes the project will bring to the site just south of Temecula.
“Any jobs that are going to be created here will probably mostly be filled from jobs they create from closing another quarry,” Clay said.
Advocacy for Cities, Employees
Clay said he would work to advocate for Murrieta and its employees.
“We need to be stressing advocacy for our city, for cities in general,” Clay said. “Funding has just been gutted in general by the state bills. The hemorrhage from the state is soaking up the money from the cities and the schools and we are not fighting back enough. I won’t say the current council didn’t stress the advocacy, that is not my point. It is that I am relentless in pursuing what I need.”
He said an example of his relentlessness was working toward a fair labor agreement for teachers in the Perris Union High School District.
“It does say something to be re-elected [to president of the teachers’ union] because my members see what I am doing and I am accomplishing what I said I would,” Clay said.
He said because his wife is an employee of a city government, he also knows the hard work put in by city of Murrieta employees.
“I have an idea of what they go through, they have a tough job,” he said.
“We still need a good financial base here in Murrieta, to help keep our employees. And while I know there are attempts now being made to draw the right kind of business here, I would continue with that.
“This really is my home. I don’t have any plans on moving anytime soon.”
Editor's Note: This is the final in a series of Murrieta City Council candidate profiles. To read articles written about the other candidates, click on their names below: