By Miriam Raftery
October 22, 2016 (El Cajon) — After having 62 campaign signs stolen or defaced, El Cajon City Council candidate Ben Kalasho set up “bait signs” with hidden surveillance cameras. Two thieves were quickly caught on tape and police were notified.
One day later, Kalasho posted on Facebook, “Catching criminals is way too easy.” He published Facebook posts by multiple people discussing the crimes online.
In a discussion thread about Kalasho’s signs, one person wrote, “One very large sign has been taken down, and wil not be placed back, ever.” Another asked for “help” to vandalize or steal a Kalasho banner.
Kalasho believes he’s become the target of Middle Eastern residents who oppose his stance on limiting the influx of refugees into El Cajon due to economic uncertainty in a city with high poverty and unemployment rates. Kalasho says he has also received death threats. Ironically, Kalasho is Chaldean, of Iraqi Christian descent; he is President and Founder of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce.
He defends his stand on limiting immigrants (a federal issue), stating, “We all have to be American first and look out for the well being of our residents before accepting anyone else into our city.”
This is Kalasho’s second run for the Council. Last election, he lost by only about 400 votes. This time, he is one of 10 candidates running for three seats.
The incident has sparked discussion online, with some siding with Kalasho and others against at a time when some have been lobbying federal leaders to allow more Christian and Muslim refugees fleeing war in the Middle East to come to the U.S.
“Damn, the hate is real,” one resident observed.
Another wrote,” Does it concern you at all that the people you aspire to represent have these opinions? Are you seeking retribution or try to serve the people?”
Kalasho replied, “I do not aspire to represent one ethnicity, minority or race. I am running to serve everyone in El Cajon. So, the short answer is No, I am not concerned with a dozen terrorists.”