Friday, May 27, 2016

• Candidates Forum

This blog contains political commentary along with reports of the event. 

I'm not here to persuade anyone to vote one way or the other. You can make up your own minds, and I can also mention where I think a candidate has gone off the rails, even if it happens to be a position you agree with.

On the evening of Thursday, May 26, 2016, Lake Elsinore Citizen's Committee hosted an event for local candidates. It was held at the Tuscany Hills HOA Clubhouse.
County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries addresses the crowd.  (photo courtesy of Kristen Huyck) 


There were a total seven candidates that spoke for about ten minutes each. The various seats that are being contested include (with incumbent listed):
  • 67th Assembly District (Melissa Melendez)
  • 1st District Riverside County Board of Supervisors (Kevin Jeffries) 
  • U.S. Representative for California's 42nd congressional district (Ken Calvert, not present)
If you're a voter, then you should already be familiar with the incumbents. Therefore, I will just be giving a brief thumbnail sketch of their comments, and giving more space to the challengers.

67th Assembly District
Click to visit website
The gathering started with Melissa Melendez. She's the incumbent running for her third two-year term in the state assembly. 

She serves as the vice-chair of two different committees: Public Safety and Insurance. She is also on two other committees: Budget and Transportation.


She spoke about the following topics:
  • Fallout from AB109 and Prop 47 
  • Loopholes in Megan's Law
  • Transportation infrastructure
  • Lost VLF funds for Wildomar and Menifee
She took a few questions. One was how to get from lake Elsinore to LA without a car.

I understand that the Assemblywoman is on the Transportation Committee, but honestly. How do you not know that your answer would start by calling local agencies, like RTA or maybe your own city hall or chamber of commerce, first?

The next speaker was Jorge Lopez, the Democrat challenger for the 67th Assembly District. 
Click ilink to visit Jorge's facebook page.
I noted his points and left some verbatim:
  • Criminals getting out of jail early. I'm proposing that we offer free tuition to college for everybody, so they don't end up in jail and that they actually have a job to go to instead of committing crimes. I like to say that, "I like to provide college, not war or prison". Lately a lot of our representatives are voting for war, and we're probably going to have another one in the next couple of years. Not a prediction, just foreseeable. 

  • Universal healthcare for everybody. 

  • We already have a very expensive and really good healthcare system here in California, so if it doesn't pass for the whole US, then of course California should be at the forefront of that. A lot of people say, "how do we pay for that?" Well if you're paying $15,000 [per year] right now —maybe pay $500 instead. And that will cover everything, no out of pocket expenses. It's also good for businesses because businesses don't have to provide for their employees. If you don't have to provide for your employees your employees will stay with you longer. They'll stay with you and won't have to pay for new members to be retrained. Also, of course, if you have universal healthcare you can also just pick up and leave anytime you want. You can look for your own job, your dream job. Essentially you can become an entrepreneur, and start your own business.
  •  
  • Local jobs are the biggest thing. 

  • I heard it mentioned, mass transit, earlier. My wife has the same issue, my wife doesn't drive. So whenever she wants to go anywhere, it's gotta be me or Uber or somebody takes her there. But that shouldn't be the case. We should have mass transportation. We should have high speed rail coming from San Francisco all the way through Orange County, and taking everybody to Las Vegas... and have them pay for some of that too. Because if we can do that, and you know, as someone else mentioned "every seven minutes", you'll have a train coming to the station every seven to ten minutes... let's say every fifteen minutes. That's still a heckuva lot better than having to spend two hours on the freeway. So we should do that. We already started collecting those funds. We have the money —a surplus in the budget, so why not start using it? Why not start getting it ready and getting it out? I know that it's going to take ten years, maybe twenty years to get it completed, but by the time —if we don't start now, we'll always be pushing it back.

  • I like to think that the problem is not so much the taxes we already pay, the problem is that we are not getting our value for it. So we need to make sure that we make them give us what we need. Healthcare is one of the biggest things that we all need. Whatever stage of life we're in, we always need healthcare. Obviously tuition free college would be great, or ROP for people that don't want to go to college. 

  • Supports equal pay for equal work.

  • I'm an environmentalist, so I don't believe in having jobs that are going to pollute our water or our air. For the most part, there is no need to do that, there's no need to be using gas anymore —let me rephrase that, (he then meandered about, mentioning electricity and solar panels. That he has solar panels and that last year was the hottest year on record and...) this year's going to be even worse. One of the things I'd like to propose once I get there is to give incentives to change your landscape to desert style. Maybe even give an incentive to start closing pools out here; so much water is wasted there. Possibly getting more dams.

  • There's a lot of things we can do, but you can't get them done unless you have the allies in the assembly. The only way you're going to get allies in the assembly is to send somebody that's from the same party, essentially. 
I met Mr. Lopez earlier in the week and chatted with him a bit. I had told him that I didn't like either party and am more in the middle. I thought that was how he described himself too. 

But, from the positions he outlined at the event, to the fact that he's more than a mere supporter for Bernie Sanders, he organized a Bernie rally in Lake Elsinore last year (link to PE story on it), he's very "progressive" which is just the new code word for: bleeding heart liberal, that just wants to give things away without serious consideration for how to pay for them.

Look at a snippet from a PE article mentioned above.

"I don't dislike her (Hillary Clinton)," Lopez said. "But Bernie is the better candidate. All of his policies are better than hers: free college, universal healthcare. Hillary comes up a little short."

Nice enough fellow, that served our country in the Marines, but I can't see how having another lefty in Sacramento could ever help us.


•        •        •

County Board of Supervisors

Click for website
The next speaker was Kevin Jeffries, incumbent County Supervisor. 

He won election in 2012 to the board of supervisors. Before that he'd represented the area in many other capacities over the years.

Starting back in 1981, he was elected to local parks boards, the water board (both WMWD and EVMWD), LAFCO, the state legislature, and his current position.

Among the things he discussed, I noted the following.
  • Economy doing good, unemployment keeps dropping, revenues are coming up, but we have a severe budget problem.
  • Government is having problems living within its means.
  • Overcrowding in jails.
  • Longest-term challenge, the coming growth to Riverside County.
  • Riv Co is the 4th largest county in California and 10th largest in the nation. The population is expected to double over the next twenty years.


Fun bit of fluff I discovered the other day. 
  
Back in October 2012, I wrote to Kevin Jeffries telling him that he had my vote. 
  
As you'll see from the last sentence I wrote, I always vote out the incumbents, unless they've done a remarkable job.

Which he has...



The next speaker was Britt Holmstrom, one of two challengers for the county supervisor seat.


She is described as a long time "observer" of the Riv Co Board of Sups. 

Below are the key points she made
  • Change hardly ever comes from the top down. It does so in totalitarian communities, and we don't want to be that.

  • I agree with a lot of things that even my opponent, Mr. Jeffries [supports]... He's not an opponent for all aspects —no. I agree with a lot of things but he can't carry out, because he's not the only one that votes on the panel.
  • Alternative energy. We're not using many types at all. Where's the methane?  It's hard for somebody in the backyard to use methane, I wouldn't recommend that, but why not support them?  We need all different kinds of energies... as long as we don't use things that may explode, okay? Then I don't want you next to me.

  • Going back to transportation, when you and I agree, within our families, within ourselves, within our neighborhoods, that we are going to use public transportation, then that starts the ball rolling. We haven't made that decision. 

  • We have been sliding backwards ever since our country was (unintelligible) in their imagination, started illegal wars. The supervisors hardly ever mention that is the cause of most of our budget demise. These were illegal wars. Our soldiers did not make the proper choice. In Vietnam, a lot of soldiers said "no".
I have to interrupt here. 
She went on and on without making a point the entire time. If you have ten minutes to kill, check out her portion on the video link below. 
However, I was entertained by some of her points, and I'll list those below.
  •  I belong to —all my efforts go to veterans for peace. You may not have heard of that, but it does exist, and I urge you to join it. Not veterans for war... okay, not robots for war, veterans —human beings to decide to create peace all over the world. Join us in that effort.
At this point she said, "I'm not going to cover all topics today. I've given you a lot to think about, and thinking about it 24-7."
In all reality, she hadn't covered ANY topics up to that point, but why should that matter at a candidates forum?
    • This is our world. I don't have any kids. The world's kids are my kids. Why do I say that? Because what difference would it have made if I ever came on this earth if nobody comes and works for the survival of the earth? 

    • We're still meat eaters to an intolerable degree. If you can't do total vegetarianism, because your body doesn't tolerate it, go for a try.

    • I want the agriculture department to come to the surface once in awhile. Not just come in crisis time with mosquito poisoning. I would like them to teach us the value of all the insects that support our lives. Without insects, you and I wouldn't be here right now. We would be dead. And you will die, if we don't —I'm not talking about eating them, you can do that if you want to, I'm not going to do that.
    Why is it that "community activists" always seem to have a screw loose? 

    Britt Holmstrom says she agrees with many things Kevin Jeffries stands for, and would like to be his "coworker".

    She opines that Jeffries is but one vote. Does she not know that there is only one vote that comes from district 1? That she cannot be a "coworker" unless she moves to another district and wins a seat on the board from there?

    She rambled and was nearly incoherent. She didn't outline why she would be an improvement for the county in general or our area in particular.

    A seat on the County Board of Supervisors is a serious job, and when Miss Miller is supporting a candidate such as Britt Holmstrom, one should be compelled to lean forward, with a raised eyebrow and crossed arms.

    Britt's campaign website is at the following link.


    Debbie Walsh, also looking to unseat Kevin Jeffries spoke next. 

    Link to Website
    Here's all you need to know about this candidate. 

    She worked for the previous supervisor, Bob Buster, and the taste of sour grapes from a 20 year incumbent's defeat still resonates in that camp. 
    I spoke with her at the Rotary BBQ in April, looked over her campaign literature and found that none of her complaints (the closing of Canyon Lake fire station chief among them) can be laid at the feet of Kevin Jeffries. 

    She didn't use her time to make it clear why the incumbent should be voted out of office, or what her priorities would be if elected. She just zigzagged around various topics, but without the charm and panache of Britt Holmstrom.

    For the details you can watch her portion of the video and visit her website.

    •        •        •

    The last two speakers were Tim Sheridan and Kerri Condley running against incumbent Ken Calvert for 42nd district, US Congress.

    You can breathe a sigh of relief, I've run out of energy to give an in depth recap of either candidate. Check out the video if you want the specifics of the evening or their websites for their positions on the issues.

    I describe myself as a left leaning libertarian, and though Sheridan was very professional, and made a good impression with his comportment, he completely lost me on the issues. 

    If you follow politics, and if you've gotten this far into the blog —you must, you already know the Democrat rigmarole. 

    From what I could tell from his speech, he's a loyal soldier in their army. If that is your bag, he's your man.
    Click to visit his website

    When it came to the last speaker, I was eager to hear her speak. 

    Back in April I made arrangements to do a "better know a candidate" blog with her as election day approached.

    We had a time and date set up and then she emailed, asking if I would send her my questions up front. I rolled my eyes at the suggestion but complied. 

    She got back to me and said, 
    "Those sound like pretty good questions to me. I will get responses to you by Friday morning. I will gladly spend a few minutes on the phone with you. Wednesday closed up. How about Friday at 1pm?"

    I declined the offer. If you don't want free advertisement, I'm not going to force it on you. I told her that I'd probably still vote for her. 

    If you visit her website she mentions many important issues, and I found myself agreeing with more than a few of her views:
    • Jobs & the Economy
    • Honoring Our Veterans
    • Immigration
    • Medicare
    • Social Security 
    • Eliminating the Deficit

    But after seeing her speak I've changed my mind.

    She spent the first few minutes talking about her "pride and joy" —her daughter. She was a gymnast but got injured, so she took up the guitar and has been writing songs and will be performing at the Orange County Fair this Summer.

    I thought I was at her daughter's graduation party for a moment, the way she was carrying on. 

    Next she spoke about her life and upbringing. She had an uncle that was at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. He served on the ship that later was the inspiration for Herman Wouk's: The Caine Mutiny.

    She finally got around to an issue, and though it is an important cause, Veteran Suicide, I don't see how that can be your first priority.

    That was the only issue I could detect. She spent the rest of her time railing about the lack of women in elected office.

    ***SPOILER ALERT***
    Women have had the right to vote for nearly 100 years. No one, but yourselves, are preventing you from running, or voting for the candidates of your choice. 

    (as of 2010, women were 50.8% of the population)

    In short, to use a sports analogy here, she basically looked to run out the clock, chew up minutes, eat innings. She didn't give one single reason why the electorate should vote out the incumbent.

    She ended with a rant about how future generations will look at us and say that we, basically, sucked. 

    Probably, but that isn't much of a platform to run on.

    Check out her part of the video starting around the 1:15:00 mark.
    Click to visit her website
    At this point I want to make an easy prediction: 
    All the incumbents will win by landslides.

    •        •        •

    Below is a video of the evening produced by Lake Elsinore Citizen's Committee. 

    Quite by chance, I happened to discover a new Miss Miller singing video. It's in the guise of a Bernie Sanders promo, but if you're one that is awed by her dulcet tones, you'll love this one... complete with Casio keyboard accompaniment.
     
    •        •        •


    Caution and prudence, handmaidens to the goddess of common sense.
    — EG Marshall



    Wildomar Rap tells it the way it is, through the eyes of the man that writes it. 

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