ETHICS, ECONOMY & EDUCATION AMONG TOP ISSUES IN 36th STATE SENATE RACE
UPDATE: Assemblyman Joel Anderson won the Republican primary and will square off against Democrat Paul Clay, a teacher, in the 36th State Senate election November 2. Scroll down for profiles on both candidates.
Opponents accuse Anderson of dodging debates, attempting to buy State Senate seat
By Miriam Raftery
May 20, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – State Senator Dennis Hollingsworth is leaving office due to term limits, creating an open seat in the 36th State Senate district. Now eight candidates are vying to fill the conservative legislator's shoes.
The district is vast, including most of East County as well as large areas in San Diego and Riverside Counties. Top issues include how to balance the state's budget, improve the economy and education, address immigration, and halt sexual predators. Ethics has also emerged as a major theme on the campaign trail--particularly in a no-holds-barred Republican primary race.
East County Magazine invited all candidates on the ballot to be interviewed. Four agreed to in-person or phone interviews: Democrat Paul Clay, Republicans Jeff Stone and Greg Stephens, and Libertarian Michael Metti. Assemblyman Joel Anderson, who also seeks the State Senate seat, returned answers to e-mailed questions, but his staff indicated that his Sacramento schedule precluded him from speaking directly with ECM. Three other Republicans (Emad Bakeer, Kenneth Dickson and Xanthi Gionis) failed to respond to interview requests. (Editor's note: Since this story was originally published, ECM has learned that Gionis fell one signature short of qualifying for the ballot.)
Anderson's opponents are raising questions over his integrity and tactics. Anderson is running for the State Senate seat after admitting to accepting illegal donations and paying a $20,000 fine to the Fair Political Practices Commission. Those donations from large donors, in excess of campaign finance laws, were funneled to Anderson’s campaign through GOP Central Committees; Anderson later returned the funds. Opponents also contend that Anderson has dodged debates and avoided media interviews; Anderson counters that his legislative schedule has prevented him from participating in debates thus far.
Below are results of our interviews, which reflect clear differences and real choices for voters.
ASSEMBLYMAN JOEL ANDERSON (Republican, El Cajon)
Joel Anderson is a two-term member of the State Assembly. Oddly, his campaign website lists no biography and his Assembly site has removed all information about his actions before he won the office. But an archived copy touted his commitment to “honesty, integrity and hard work.” He served as president of Padre Municipal Water District and chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign locally before winning election to the Assembly. According to his 2008 campaign materials, he also owned and ran an unspecified small business which he claimed to have built into a million dollar operation. He was active in civic groups such as Kiwanis and was a director of proceedings for the Alpine Chamber of Commerce. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from California Polytechnic University, Pomona.
Anderson says he is running for State Senate “because I want to finish the good work I started in the Assembly. My constituents deserve a strong advocate in Sacramento to fight against higher taxes and to bring jobs back to our great state.” He added that he has been “highly effective.”
Asked to name his most significant legislative accomplishments, Anderson lists his authorship of a single bill signed into law: AB 221, which called for state pension systems to divest from companies violating federal law by doing business in Iran, which Anderson calls “the top exporter of terrorism throughout the world.” He added, “My bipartisan efforts and coalition building sparked a national movement which led 28 other states and the United States Congress to enact similar laws.”
Other significant measures authored by Anderson have thus far failed to win passage, including a bill that would require the state to accept its own IOUs as payment for property taxes and other debts.
He wants to balance the budget by continuing to oppose any increase in taxes. “Our budget problems are due to radical overspending, not a lack of revenue,” he said in his e-mailed comments. He believes that the cure for unemployment is to “get the government out of the way” to allow the free market to prosper and boost private sector job growth.
Asked about education funding and priorities, he called for rooting out “waste in the Sacramento education bureaucracy.” He urged readers to visit http://schoolfinancecenter.org to learn how much money school districts receive compared to how much taxpayers pay into the system.
Anderson indicated he would not support efforts to restore local student guaranteed admissions at San Diego State University or other CSU campuses. “I would like to provide guaranteed admission for local students, but we need to do it in the contest of how much money the state has to spend,” he said, noting that student tuitions only pay a portion of education costs. “Taxpayers underwrite the remainder of the cost and I can’t support a mandate taxpayers can’t afford.”
Asked about Arizona’s controversial approach to immigration, he replied, “I support Arizona’s efforts to combat illegal immigration in order to compensation for the federal government’s refusal to meet its obligation to secure our borders.”
Following the Gulf Oil spill, asked his approach to energy policy including oil drilling off California, Anderson responded, “I support offshore drilling and believe it can be done in a responsible, environmentally friendly way.”
He opposed the healthcare bill that passed Congress and was recently signed into law by President Barack Obama. He opposes abortion in all cases, including rape, incest and life of the mother.
Asked his views on gay marriage and civil unions, he reiterated his support for Proposition 8, which overturned gay marriages in California. He opposes a ballot initiative that proposes to legalize marijuana.
He calls himself a “principled, effective Conservative” and says that differentiates him from his opponents, along with his legislative track record. Asked about the ethical questions raised by his settlement agreement with the FPPC, in which he admitted to knowledge of wrongdoing over campaign finance violations, he replied, “I take full responsibility for the mistakes that were made. At the time, I believed I was operating within the confines of the law. When it was pointed out that mistakes were made, I voluntarily returned all of the donations in question ($150,000) and paid the necessary fine ($20,000). The FPPC’s two-month review determined that there was no intentional or malicious attempt to circumvent campaign finance laws.”
[Editor’s note: Actually, the FPPC settlement documents state that “Respondents at worst deliberately and at best negligently received contributions in excess of the contribution limits. Additionally, receiving the contributions through the Fresno County Republican Central Committee indicates the potential of intent to conceal the violation and the true source, amount and nature of the contribution…” http://www.fppc.ca.gov/agendas/12-09/AndersonEx.pdf )
Asked about criticism by opponents for not participating in several recent debates, including one sponsored by a Republican Women’s Club, Anderson insisted that “of course we will have a full discussion of the issues and a debate featuring all the candidates,” though with less than two weeks before the election, that has not yet occurred and several candidates said they are unaware of any scheduled debates in which Anderson has confirmed that he will appear. Anderson said he looks forward to attending debates sponsored by “unbiased groups” but that “any event will need to be worked around the legislative calendar…My first commitment is always to my current job in the Assembly.”
Some opponents have also accused Anderson of attempting to buy the election. As of last week, his campaign had raised roughly $450,000. He is endorsed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, California Republican Assembly, and California Firefighters Association.
SUPERVISOR JEFF STONE (Republican, Temecula)
Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone served on the Temecula City Council before winning election as a Supervisor five years ago, giving him a total of 18 years of public service. He is running on a platform that is pro-business and in favor of strong public safety.
He takes credit for bringing the Promenade Mall to Temecula, generating 2,000 jobs and $4 million in sales tax. He also started FAST, an ambulance service that reduced response time from 10 minutes to four minutes through use of GPS technology.
“I know that jobs will create services. I wanted incentives to bring industry to Temecula,” said Stone, who supported economic development and a revenue excess sharing program in Temecula which he said returned $50 million to citizens. “We have to be innovative and bring businesses back in the state; until we do, we will not be able to have an educated workforce…Three thousand people a day, one million a year, are leaving California because they don’t have work or can’t afford to live here.”
Stone called for public education in California to be “retooled” in grades K-12. “I don’t believe in tenure,” he said, suggesting that teachers should be rated by students and test scores.
He created the Temecula Educational Apprenticeship Model (TEAM), which gave kids high school credit for apprenticeship programs with local employers. “Many got so enthused and inspired they decided to go to college,” Stone said.
He also helped enact the strongest graffiti ordinance in the state, requiring that parents perform community service with juvenile offenders, offering rewards for taggers and providing two free trucks to remove graffiti on public and private property. The $5,000 a year cost is recouped through billing perpetrators. “It gets rid of competition between gangs,” Stone said.
As a County Supervisor, he supported SPIDER, a program to create one of the strongest sexual predator programs in the country. A task force of District Attorney and Sheriff’s investigators make routine visits to felony sex offenders in Riverside, also setting up decoys posing as children. Featured on TV’s Dateline, the program netted 50 arrests and convictions. “We had sexual predators tripping over themselves to catch a decoy,” recalled Stone. He also backed SPIRIT, a program to notify neighbors if a sex offender moves into the area.
“Heinous taxes” motivated Stone to run for State Senate, he said, citing a doubling of vehicle license fees and a 5% surcharge on state income taxes as examples. He wants to stop “addictive spending” and companies sending jobs out of California.
Stone wants to pass a “Legislator Accountability Act” that would make legislators lose their full salaries if budgets are not passed on time. He wants tax increases to require a 2/3 majority vote by the public. “We need to run government like a business,” said Stone, who notes the number of state employees has doubled since 1990, more than the rate of population growth. He also called for consolidation of some state agencies, fewer DMV offices, a two-tier pension system, and breaking the “union stranglehold” on Sacramento.
Born to young parents (his mother was just 17 and his father was 20), Stone was raised in Riverside and moved to Temecula in 1983. “I came from a very low income family,” he said, adding that when he went to the University of Southern California, he lived with his mother and drove a motorcycle. He graduated from USC’s School of Pharmacy and opened Temecula Pharmacy in 1983, later opening several more pharmacies as well as Innovative Respiratory Care and Earle J. Enterprises, a real estate holding and management company. . When graffiti became a problem for area businesses, Stone’s wife urged him to run for the city council. He and his wife have four children, all adults.
Grandson of a Russian immigrant who came to America through Ellis Island and chose the name Freedman, Stone wears a necklace made from his grandfather’s dental bridge. “I’m a strong proponent of legal immigration,” said Stone, who supports safeguarding borders as a national security issue. “None of the last three presidents addressed that two 911 terrorists came through Mexico. It’s also a state issue; we will spend $10.5 billion a year on services to care for immigrations through education, jails, healthcare, etc…I don’t think that’s right.” He disputed concerns that Arizona’s new immigration law could lead to civil rights issues. “They won’t pull you over due to the color of your skin,” he said.
Asked about healthcare, he said he believes “nationalized healthcare is premature” and is concerned about unfunded mandates. He wants to see tax reform to allow interstate commerce of health insurance companies to boost competition and lower premiums. He opposes the marijuana initiative on the November ballot and opposes dispensaries selling inhaled marijuana, but believes medical marijuana in capsule form (available legally now with a doctor’s prescription) has value to reduce nausea in chemotherapy patients and address other conditions related to cancer and AIDS. Federal law currently treats medical marijuana as a schedule one drug in the same category as heroin. “It should maybe be schedule two like narcotics,” Stone noted.
Stone says he advocates helping farmers. “There are more small farms in San Diego County than anywhere in the state. They are all struggling with water, pesticide regulations, and bugs from Mexico that are decimating crops. We need to look at technologies such as desalinization; we have a whole ocean in San Diego.” He also called for use of pesticides in “appropriate ways”, adding, “We can inject some into the roots of a plant.”
He supports offshore drilling as a necessary risk, but wants to see safeguards to prevent offshore oil disasters such as the Gulf Coast spill.
Stone has praised Maricopa County, Arizona’s tent-city jails as a cost-effective way of housing prisoners. He is endorsed by Sheriff Joe Arapaio.
Stone differs with Anderson on several key points. While both are pro-life, Stone would make exceptions for rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is at stake. He calls himself a “common-sense conservative.”
“I’m against Sunrise Powerlink. I think it is money inappropriately spent,” he said, adding that the $2.5 billion budget would be better spent to put solar on homes and businesses. “We fought power lines in Temecula through Save Our Hills, and we beat them. It was SDG&E,” he added. “Joel Anderson took money from SDG&E,” he said, noting that Anderson has declined to state a position on Powerlink. “Would you trust somebody who took 95% of their contributions from PACs in Sacramento?” Stone said he has not taken gifts in 17 years in office and accused Anderson of “pandering himself.”
“If Joel Anderson was in Riverside, our D.A. would have filed five felony charges,” he said, referring to the five major donations that Anderson was found by the FPPC to have funneled through Republican central committees illegally. “It’s clear as day it was felony money laundering.” A Riverside politician has been prosecuted for a similar offense, he noted.
“I’m not going to lie. I’m going to be the voice of the people,” Stone declared.
Stone faulted Anderson for “skirting out on four debates” including Escondido Republican Women’s Club. “He has more money than God and thinks he’s going to buy it,” he said of the election. “I am willing to debate Joel Anderson anyplace, anytime,” said Stone, who added he would travel to Sacramento for a “Lincoln-Douglas-style debate” if necessary to accommodate Anderson’s schedule.
He also accused Anderson’s campaign of conducting push polls to smear both Stone and Stephens, including a poll that he said distorts his position on Israel. [Stephens confirmed that a push poll has asked voters if they would support a candidate knowing his daughter had a baby out of wedlock. Stephens said his daughter married after becoming pregnant, and urged that Anderson focus on the issues and leave family members alone.]
Stone is not without his own political baggage. He paid fines to settle four administrative violations with the State Board of Pharmacy. “You can walk into any pharmacy or any hospital and find administrative violations,” he said. He has also drawn criticism from a Riverside newspaper for paying his sister a generous salary from his campaign funds (an action which is not illegal) and for approving purchase of a car by the County for his sister. Stone said his sister was running up significant mileage after she was appointed by the D.A. and Sheriff as spokesperson of a SAFE team and a women’s committee. “It was less expensive for the County to buy her a clunker and save $4,000 a year on mileage. We asked the County Counsel and the FPPC, and they said it was okay,” he explained. “There were no laws broken and no ethical violations.”
Stone has an extensive list of endorsements including former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Congressman Darrell Issa, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, former Assemblyman Jay LaSuer, La Mesa Mayor Art Madrid, Supervisors Bill Horn, Pam Slater-Price and Greg Cox, as well as numerous Riverside County officials.
REV. GREG STEPHENS (Republican, La Mesa)
A military veteran and pastor of Father’s Church in La Mesa, Greg Stephens says he was motivated to run for office because of what he views as corruption by Assemblyman Joel Anderson, also a candidate for the 36th State Senate seat.
“I’ve not taken a single cent of PAC money. I’m not going to be corrupted,” said Stephens. “I’ve always been Republican, but when people become self-serving instead of serving the people, then we’ve got a problem.”
Stephens, 49, calls himself a “real patriotic straight shooter.” Stephens served in the U.S. Air Force as a member of the Air National Guard and was deployed three times including to Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. He served as an air evacuation medic during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He was also a first responder at the Oklahoma City bombing, where he said he assisted in evacuation of hundreds of victims. He also worked as a TV producer and director from 1983-2001, winning three Telly awards. In 2001, he followed in his father and grandfather’s footsteps and become a pastor.
As pastor and president of a nonprofit, Stephens said he’s helped feed and take care of people, led groups to Washington D.C. and seen the pain of people distraught over losing jobs, having families break up, and leaving the state due to the economy. He helped establish a program that lets shoppers donate items through grocery stores and businesses to help those in need. He also works with Liberty and Literacy First Charter Schools and has traveled to Ethiopia and the Sudan to support humanitarian efforts, also sponsoring orphanages and schools in Israel, Nepal and the Philippines. Married with three young children, he has also been involved in youth and community groups including Little League. “The kids keep me grounded,” he said.
“It’s more than just cutting taxes,” he said when asked how he would approach budgetary reform. “We also have to stop spending…We need to look at every single item, every agency.” He called for a part-time legislature and business-friendly practices. “We don’t have capitalism. We’ve regulated it to death…People are more important than fish in a delta. We need to look at the 501c3 status of environmental groups. Unions have also lost their way and become self-serving.”
He opposes cap and trade and wants to repeal AB 32, which imposes a carbon tax on polluters and also provides incentives for clean-tech companies to expand in California in an effort to address global warming. “The earth warms and the earth cools,” said Stephens.
He slammed Anderson for spending time raising money instead of focusing on problems in the district. “While you’ve raised money, people are losing their liberty, their jobs, and our children are less safe from sexual predators. My slogan is “We the people” because we deserve better.”
“I’m sick and tired of new laws being named after our dead daughters,” added Stephens, who said that the first bill he would introduce would require sex offenders to have special designations on their driver’s licenses and renew those licenses annually. “It would raise $3 million and it would track these guys within 12 months,” he said, adding that a license code would also tip off police who stop offenders near schools as well as alerting store clerks to their criminal backgrounds.
Stephens, whose own children attended charter schools, says he supports “choice” in education including vouchers and sees kids as our future. But he said of the University of California system, “I don’t think we should give in-state tuition benefits.” Asked whether he would support Assemblyman Marty Block’s bill to require SDSU to restore guaranteed admissions for local students who meet California State University requirements, he said he would want to read the bill, but that “I’m a liberty and individual rights person; universities are in business.”
A strong supporter of states’ rights, he supports Arizona’s right to enact its tough immigration bill and would support a similar measure in California “if the people in this state pass it and it’s constitutional, though I would like to read the language.” He added that the federal government has failed to address illegal immigration. “We need to stop the flow. I advocate asking the Governor to consider sending Army and Navy and Air National Guard to the border as a third line of defense, not militarizing the border, but behind the Border Patrol and Sheriff for humanitarian reasons,” he said. “Why not have a MASH unit on the border?” Such a move would save on hospital costs of treating illegal border crossers as well as time spent by Border Patrol agents to escort injured immigrants to emergency rooms.
On abortion, he responded, “It’s the law of the land” and stated he is pro-life. Asked if he would support exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother, he replied, “Certainly,” adding that he counsels women facing such difficult decisions on a regular basis as a pastor. He added that he believes abortion is “part of the revenue problem” citing “the rights of people who were never born and are not paying taxes.”
He cites his major endorsements as the Independence Caucus, some Tea Party leaders, and Sheriff Richard Mack.
He opposes Sunrise Powerlink. “I believe we need another power source, but I don’t agree with Powerlink,” he said.
He supports oil drilling off California’s coast despite the Gulf oil spill. “Katrina went through and did knock those drilling platforms over,” he noted. “Until alternative energy becomes viable and cost efficient we need to do all we can to wean ourselves off foreign oil. We’re supporting hostile regimes such as the Saudis. We’re funding terror around the world with our SUVs. I grew up in Oklahoma, in oil country. It creates wealth, jobs. There are more positives than negatives,” said Stephens, who added that he also supports nuclear, wind and solar energy.
To those who would criticize a pastor for seeking political office, Stephens notes that 33 of the 55 signers of the Constitution attended seminaries. But he added, “I won’t go up and thump the Bible on the Assembly floor. I’m sworn to uphold the Constitution.” He said he supports separation of church and state but added, “We need to define those terms,” noting that some early colonies were established as religious havens.
He supports the second amendment, owns guns and is a member of the National Rifle Association.
On gay marriage, he does not support overturning Proposition 8 through the Legislature or courts “because the people voted twice, and I would revisit it if the people had a vote the other way.”
He opposes a single-payer government-run healthcare program, citing those on Indian reservations as examples of why he believes they don’t work well. Instead he wants to see incentives for doctors to take uninsured patients and deduct 10% of their treatment costs, a step he believes would provide “dignity for that family” and treatment for more patients, while also rewarding doctors. He also supports state tax credits for new medical school graduates to take charity patients and the unemployed. “It could be a model of common sense,” he says.
He would give priority in the budget to fire and public safety services. “We need to give all equipment needed to our first responders he said.” He would cut pensions for state workers and salaries for prison guards.
On ballot initiatives, he opposes the marijuana initiative and says he has concerns over a water bond intiative. “I’m not 100 percent yet on the water bond; I’m concerned about the price tag and don’t know if we’ll ever see the infrastructure be built,” he said.
He faults Anderson for not participating in debates or spending enough time visiting with people in his district. “Jesus was never moved to compassion sitting in an office.” He pledged to hold public forums if elected. He faulted Jeff Stone, the other leading Republican contender, for supporting tent city jails and humiliating prisoners by forcing them to wear pink underwear.
He believes people are tired of the status quo, including many Republicans. “If you like the way it’s working, then vote for my opponents,” he concluded, adding that he offers an alternative for voters seeking a conservative with integrity. “If you want to send a message to Ron Nehring and Tony Krvaric, vote for me.”
For more information on Stephens’ candidacy, see http://citizensforstephens.com/.
PAUL CLAY (Democrat, Perris)
A teacher who has worked in continuation schools and public high schools, Clay has a passion for public education. Father of three children (ages 2, 11 and 21), he has also owned several busineses, served in the U.S. Merchant Marine, and represented a teacher’s union in the Perris Union High School District in Riverside County.
Clay decided to run for office initially because he was “shaken out of complacency” by his school district “squandering money” while “students at my school were not given adequate food and water.” Violent students and those caught with drugs or weapons were not expelled despite a zero-tolerance policy.
“In California, because of the lack of enforcement against violent students in some districts, we run the risk of another Santana or Granite Hills shooting,” Clay warned. “That’s my fear…That’s what started me in politics.”
Born in Bellflower, California, Clay went to work after high school instead of going to college “because I didn’t like being poor.” He calls that decision a “big mistake” that he now helps other kids avoid making. He later obtained a degree in geography from the University of Wisconsin and later, a teaching degree from National University.
Clay worked as a sales manager at the National Map Gallery in Washington, D.C. but returned to Chicago when his wife’s father faced heart surgery. He owned a business but later opened an alternative education/continuation school for students who had been expelled from public schools.
“If we don’t save them at that stage, then problems become exponential,” he said, noting that drop-outs are more apt to become criminals. “A tough-love approach is the only thing that works. Be tough, be loving, show them both sides and never show them fear.” His school had a 94% attendance rate with only five expulsions, he said.
He moved to California to teach alternative education. “These are the toughest, meanest, hardest kids,” he said. His efforts helped stop gang violence at the school where he taught. But later, administrators sought to eliminate the alternative education program and turned a blind eye to serious trouble-makers, even some hiding weapons and harming other students, said Clay, who later left the job and is now teaching social studies in a public high school.
If elected, he would strengthen whistleblower protections for teachers and provide more state oversight to investigate complaints such as threats against teachers.
“We’re over-tested,” he said, adding that “teaching to the test” is turning out ignorant graduates. For example, teachers now only teach children facts about Native Americans that are on standardized tests, such as information on the Navajo Trail of Tears. “There is nothing about lifestyle, nothing about Geronimo, the Little Bighorn, buffalos, culture, Pocahontas. We’re told we shouldn’t teach that,” he said, adding that some teachers have even been encouraged to cheat to make a superintendent or district look better. He added that his school district wastes $1-2 million of its $70-80 million budget. “Schools are looked at now as profit centers, like Radio Shack,” he said, calling for truth in reporting for schools to show how funds are spent.
He would support requiring SDSU and other CSU campuses to restore local student admission guarantees for those who meet CSU requirements. “You have to give priority to local students,” he said. “Colleges are spread out to reach the people; the whole intent is to keep them accessible.”
He said many textbooks contain errors and aren’t worth the money to update often given other pressing budget priorities. “Keep the books we’ve got and keep teachers and summer school instead,” he said.
Asked his approach to the California budget, Clay said he believes “robbing municipalities and school accounts to pay for the state’s expenses is wrong.” Layoffs of workers compound the problem, he said, as people who lose jobs leave the state and cause a downward spiral in the housing market as well. “A lot of those people losing homes are teachers and city workers; soon it will be police and firefighters…We could squeeze more out of the budget if we look at other places to cut besides on the backs of employees.”
While he supports eliminating wasteful spending, he also believes it’s time to look at increasing revenues to balance the budget. “I think we have to look at taxes,” he said, but added that he would oppose any new taxes on the poor, the middle class, and small businesses.
“Protections for senior citizens are paramount; that was our intent with Prop 13. I would like to retool and pay less taxes when I retire, but while we are all working we should pay our fair share. I am very concerned about the elderly, those who are retired and those getting ready to retire, yet many can’t afford it.”
He would start by targeting “scofflaws—corporations that use every legal means to pay no taxes. That’s wrong. We need an alternative minimum tax. Second, some don’t pay any taxes; laws aren’t being enforced.”
Clay, whose emphasis in geography was in urban development and transportation, supports improved public transportation to help people get to work around San Diego County, such as trolley service along I-15 and improved bus services.
“Given expertise in San Diego County in electronics, this should be the home of R&D and manufacturing for green energy,” he said. He also supports alternatives to Powerlink and calls the high-voltage transmission line proposal “unneeded.” He supports Stirling motors in individual communities and solar on rooftops as alternatives. “We also need an immediate switch from petroleum to all biofuels, like Brazil,” he said, citing the potential for future energy shortages similar to the 1970s energy crisis.
Clay supports marriage equality rights. “It’s a privacy choice. It’s not my choice; I’m happily married, but I am offended by people who tell someone what they should or shouldn’t do in the bedroom,” he said, adding that he also believes the issue has a freedom of religion angle and faults Republicans for being inconsistent on the issue with the party’s philosophy of “getting government off people’s backs.” He is pro-choice on reproductive rights, although his own mother was encouraged to have an abortion but chose to give birth to Clay as a single mother in 1957. “I think it’s a woman’s choice, period, and there are many choices.”
He wants to see improvements in healthcare to make sure general practitioners are taken care of and help improve care for patients. He opposes the medical marijuana initative, as a health teacher who has taught students the down side of drug use. “Even if it was legal, I wouldn’t condone it,” he added.
He supports Proposition 15, which would create a pilot program for clean elections, and opposes Proposition 16, which is funded by Mercury Insurance targeting automobile policy holders. He also supports a ballot initiative to allow the legislature to pass a budget with a simple majority vote instead of the two-thirds now required.
“One thing I’m concerned about is San Diego County doesn’t have a County Fire Department,” he noted. “I would be part of a group to lead a change and have a County Fire Department here. How many more tragedies will it take?”
He supports stronger penalties and monitoring of violent criminals including sexual predators. “I’ve been a protector of children for years as a hotline volunteer,” he said. “I support Chelsea’s law.” Identification of offenders and enforcement of laws is crucial, he believes. “We had a bus stop in front of an offender’s home; I found out and reported it, and made them move the bus stop….One of my friends was one of the last people killed by serial killer John Wayne Gacy,” he said, adding that Gacy should have been stopped much earlier.
He also opposes a proposed quarry north of Rainbow and doubts claims that it will asve jobs.
Voted Substitute Teacher of the Year in Rockford, Illinois, Clay says public education will be his top priority—along with providing ethics and integrity. “People should vote for the person, not the party,” he said. “I have never beeni n trouble with the law. I don’t think my opponents hold up regarding Republican ideals.”
Clay is endorsed by the California Labor Federation and other labor groups, as well as the California Democratic Party. He aims to provide a voice for working people in California. He also pledges to bring responsibility to the job.
“I spoke out against problems in our school district, and decided long ago not to be concerned regarding repercussions. You have to take the responsibility seriously. That says a lot about my integrity,” he said, adding that if Republican Jeff Stone edges out Joel Anderson in the GOP primary, “We may have to see which is tougher: Clay or Stone.”
For more information on Clay’s candidacy, visit www.paulclay2010.org.
MICHAEL METTI (Libertarian, El Cajon)
Metti has previously run for Congress, U.S. Senate and Assembly. “The whole idea is trying to educate people about the Libertarian party,” he said. Metti believes in Libertarian’s support for “limited government constrained within the Constitution,” adding, “We are socially liberal and fiscally conservative. We think people should run their own lives and that creates a responsible behavior; actions have consequences…though we’re not against some regulation for the good of the community.”
Married with two grown children, Metti has lived in Sweden (where he met his wife) and Saudi Arabia, where he starting a heating and air conditioning business and a filter company. He has also owned a shipping and mailing business and a freight forwarding company.
“I’ve lived all over the world and in the last 10-15 years I’ve really seen ad ecline in our potential,” he said. He also voiced concern over California losing its reputation for being more “tolerant and open-minded” than most other states.
His plan to balance the budget calls for property taxes to be taken out of Sacramento and brought back to local communities for schools. “I don’t see how they can balance the budget with the education the big white elephant in the room. Education is more than 50% of the budget,” said Metti, who home-schooled his children. Two passed high school equivalency tests at ages 13 and 14; one went on to UCSD. Another is working on a doctorate, while a third is in Stockholm “seeing the world.”
He cites “corruption” in social safety nets as another problem and over-regulation as a problem that has caused the demise of community hospitals. “I think when they started Medicare and grouping a lot of people together to bargain real hard for services, that drove the price up for everybody else,” he added.
He supports recourses to protect consumers but opposes extensive “safety nets” which he believes lead people to be “reckless; if you have kids you can throw them onto society to educate them and that creates a laziness in thinking…Then you have to raise taxes and increase the budget.” He added that too many bonds have also been passed by voters.
He wants tougher standards, however, for individuals to take corporations to court to enforce property rights. “If someone is polluting my air I want to be able to take them to court and hold them responsible,” he said.
He sees corruption in government and in the green movement as problems, citing demise of the electric car when an automaker bought up patents. “We’re not supposed to have monopolies here—unless they are government-sanctioned monopolies that are in bed with politicians,” he said, citing SDG&E as an example.
He also called for a part-time legislature, release of “victimless crime” offenders such as drug users from prisons while keeping sex offenders and violent offenders behind bars.
Metti, a former volunteer firefighter, wants to see more volunteer firefighters as well as military help to fight wildfires in our region.
On energy, he notes that the U.s. has alienated some oil-producing nations such as Iran and believes the world does not have a real oil shortage, though he supports more use of passive solar. He is not convinced that Powerlink is necessary. “We had a net migration of almost one million people in the past few years, so I don’t see why we need more power,” he said.
He called for a reduction in permits, licenses and fees to help small business and entice companies to return to California.
Metti would like to see debates among all candidates and faulted Anderson for rarely showing up in his district recently. “We can put him on a milk carton,” said Metti, who received 7% of the vote in his last campaign bid. For more information on his candidacy, see http://mettifamily.webplus.net.