Democratic candidates urge voters to unite for change
East County Californian (2008-08-07) Miriam Raftery
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"I've been a Republican for 35 years and I became a Democrat in January," La Mesa Councilmember David Allan told a crowd of over 350 people at the East County Uniting for Change picnic on Sunday at Harry Griffith Park in La Mesa.
Sponsored by the La Mesa-Foothills, East County and Santee Democratic Clubs, the event took on the fervor of a revival meeting as an array of Democratic candidates for local and national offices urged voters to unite for change in November.
"Let me tell you about the state. It's broken." said Allan, a former firelighter and past president of San Miguel Firelighters. He noted that California has had two consecutive years of deficits in excess of $7 billion, adding. "The federal government is going to have a deficit over S400 billion ... Being a local politician is the toughest job. because we've got to deal with problems created by the state and feds." Allan called for change at higher levels of government, adding, "Our government has forgotten what it's about, which is to serve the people."
Other speakers included Congressional candidate Mike Lumpkin, Assembly candidates Ray Lutz and Marty Block, San Diego City Council candidate Marti Emerald, Lemon Grove Council candidate George Gastil, Grossmont Cuyamaca Community College District board candidate Mary Kay Rosinski, El Cajon Council candidate John Martes, Obama campaign spokesman Greg Bolian, and local party officials.
Lutz chided his opponent. Republican Assemblyman Joel Anderson, for supporting a tax "sloophole" to benefit yacht owners at a time when state services are being slashed.
"How many marinas are in the 77th Assembly District?" the East County candidate asked, adding that Anderson wants to eliminate 117 boards and commissions including many that oversee corporations. "He wants to keep the tax rigging in place," said Lutz, an electrical engineer and citizen activist who led efforts to stop private military contractor Blackwater Worldwide
from building a training camp in East County.
He pledged to oppose all special interests that seek to privatize public services. He also vowed to fight waste, fraud and abuse, fix tax inequities, support healthcare reform, back conversion to a green economy and oppose Sunrise Powerlink
Lumpkin. a former Navy Seal commander, headed the Joint Special Operations Task Force in the Arabian Peninsula for Operation Iraqi Freedom and later served as Congressional liaison for the U.S. Special Forces Command. He is running against Duncan D. Hunter, son of retiring Congressman Duncan Hunter.
"At stake in the November election is the future of our country, the future of our economy, the future of our armed services and our world standing," said Lumpkin. who drew cheers when he urged listeners to "come together and take our country back." He stressed the importance of improving schools, creating jobs, and investing in alternative energy. Lumpkin announced recent endorsements by Hilary Clinton, General Wesley Clark and Senator Jim Webb.
Marty Block, Democratic candidate for the 78th Assembly District, is running for an open seat vacated by Assemblywoman Shirley Horton due to term limits. President of the San Diego Community College District Board of Trustees, he also served as president of the County Board of Education and dean of San Diego State University's College of Education.
"The California Nurses Association supports me because I support universal healthcare," said Block, who predicted that someday "we'll look back and not believe we didn't have healthcare for all of our seniors, families and children."
Noting that he won his primary race by less than two votes per precinct. Block emphasized the importance of volunteers to help get out the vote for the November election. That point was also stressed by Democratic Go! Team leaders, who noted that around a third of all voters cast votes for president while leaving other offices blank.
Marti Emerald, former Channel 10 Troubleshooter/reporter and candidate for San Diego City Council's 7th district, called for a need to "grow our economy and create jobs to allow people to buy homes and raise families with dignity." She stressed the need for open government and accountability as well as jump-starting the economy.
"At stake in the November election is the future of our country, the future of our economy, the future of our armed services and our world standing"
John Martes, candidate for the El Cajon City Council, criticized the current Council for offering sweetheart deals on land to "developer buddies," citing several specific examples. "How can you trust these guys?" he asked. Martes also called for coordination of traffic lights to avoid excessive idling time and cut motorists' fuel consumption.
"Lemon Grove is a little city with big dreams," said George Gastil, member of the Lemon Grove School Board and candidate for Lemon Grove City Council. He emphasized the need for safe neighborhoods, community vision and providing more opportunities for young people.
Mary Kay Rosinski, a teacher running for the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College Board, pledged to restore accountability and assure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely in a district where the San Diego County Grand Jury has found ethical violations.
The event featured jazzy beach folk rock music by local artist Charlie Imes and his hand, including the song "Worst President Ever," a jab featuring a George W. Bush impersonator from Imes' new album. "On An Island."
Although East County has long been considered a Republican stronghold and has more registered Republicans than Democrats, Democratic leaders expressed confidence that they will achieve victories in November.
Party leaders said that new voter registrations in East County are running 10 to one Democratic over Republican. La Mesa recently shifted to a Democratic majority, as have several other San Diego County communities.
Democratic leaders believe that massive voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, along with the national trend of decline-to-state voters tilting toward Democratic candidates, will fuel victories in East County this year.
In addition, the Obama campaign has recruited hundreds of precinct captains county-wide, including many in East County. "They asked us to call 100,000 people in one weekend. We called 200.000." said Greg Bolian, spokesperson for the Obama campaign in San Diego County.
Go! Team leader Arlene Howe described how she used to rely on recommendations of friends to vote, but now realizes the importance of voters learning first-hand what candidates stand for after seeing America embroiled in a pre-emptive war, economic woes, and losing respect of world allies. "Now San Diego is embroiled in scandal and is going bust," she added. "This isn't my country."
Linda Armacost, president of La Mesa-Foothills Democratic Club, was pleased by the event's turn-out. "Look at all these progressives in East County," she exclaimed.
- "Supporters of Raymond Lutz, a candidate for the 77th District State Assembly at the East County Rally: