Valley News -

By Tony Ault
Staff Writer 

Bill Zimmerman appointed Menifee's new mayor


Last updated 7/26/2018 at 12:39pm


Bill Zimmerman, a longtime Menifee resident, replaces former Mayor Neil Winter, who died unexpectedly in his home May 19.

Bill Zimmerman, longtime Menifee resident and member of many city commissions, has been named the city's new mayor during a special-called city council meeting Wednesday, July 18.

Zimmerman, 55, replaces former Mayor Neil Winter, who died unexpectedly at his home May 19. Councilman John Denver made the motion to nominate Zimmerman, which Mayor Pro Tem Lesa Sobek seconded. The vote was 3-1, with Councilman Matt Liesemeyer dissenting.

Zimmerman's appointment now brings the city council back to five members. The appointment was made following a number of residents asking the council to make up their minds whether to have an election for a new mayor or make the appointment. The council, following Winters death, had 60 days to decide whether to appoint a new mayor or put it on the March 19, 2019, election ballot.

Sobek after hearing comments from members of the audience who mostly favored an immediate appointment to the position by the council rather than an election many months away, asked for nominations. It would have cost the city an estimated $250,000 to add a mayoral election to the to 2019 ballot.

Denver made the nomination citing Zimmerman's long service to the city and to the community. He has been a resident of Menifee since 1989 and has served on the Menifee City Planning Commission and the city's Parks, Recreation and Trails Commission. He was a strong advocate for Menifee's incorporation 10 years ago and currently sits on the Mt. San Jacinto College Board of Trustees. He has been very active in forwarding the history of Menifee and the surrounding area and maintaining its traditions.

Before the vote was called, Leismeyer said he would still vote "no" on the nomination believing the people should still vote for the mayor's position in an election, as was done with Winters.

"It pains me to do so because Bill is a great friend," said Leismeyer, "If I had to count on one hand the residents who have done the most for Menifee, Bill would be in the top five. I vote this way only because of my belief on the issue."

Following the nomination approval, a recess was called by Sobek for a short time, and Zimmerman was invited back to the council to be sworn in.

Zimmerman agreed to the nomination saying he had no agenda or desire to upset anything that is being done by the council. However, he also noted, "I want to keep us moving in a positive direction. I think the council showed great wisdom tonight in saving the city a quarter of a million dollars on an election."

According to a press release issued by Mt. San Jacinto College, Zimmerman will step down from his position of Trustee Area 3 for the college.

"Mr. Zimmerman's leadership has helped shape MSJC's future and continued the course for student success," said Dr. Roger Schultz, superintendent/president of MSJC. "Mr. Zimmerman championed the purchase of our new facility in Temecula, provided leadership on the district budget and Measure AA projects and was committed to ensuring our district was meeting its goals. He has been a part of a unique team of five board members who, collectively, were recognized by the accreditation team for their integrity and support of student success. He will be missed, but we are pleased to have a strong leader in the city who supports the college. We will work with the remaining board members to determine a course for replacing Mr. Zimmerman."

Zimmerman called the college a quality institution and praised his fellow board members and the leadership and staff at MSJC. He said serving as a trustee at the college "has been a wonderful learning experience."

"I'm pleased that the many positive relationships I've established with students, faculty and administrators will carry over to my new role as city mayor," Zimmerman said. "The city of Menifee is fortunate to have the campus producing a skilled and educated workforce, while also providing community-based opportunities for our residents. I've often said, the campus is the jewel in the city's crown."

Trustee Tom Ashley, who serves as clerk of the board, said he considered Zimmerman a good friend and believes the transition to a mayoral role will help to further strengthen the relationship between the city and the college district. 

"Trustee Zimmerman provided us with many years of stable, solid leadership," Ashley said. "Although he will be greatly missed and his wide breadth of experience will be hard to replace, our loss will be the city of Menifee's gain. He is ideally suited to lead the city."  

The board will be asked in August to determine how the district will fill the vacancy.

Zimmerman's mayoral appointment was made effective immediately and he will be presiding over the next regular city council meeting Aug. 1.


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