The Lake San Marcos Democratic Club’s monthly meeting in October featured a candidate’s forum to provide an opportunity for the public to hear from various local candidates. Candidates from the Federal level down to the local school board and water districts visited and shared their visions for the future should they be elected.Out of the 11 candidates who attended or sent their representatives, Doug Applegate, Patrick Malloy, Andrew Masiel, Nina Deerfield, and John Halcon are all members of our club.
Patrick Malloy, running for Congress in Congressional District 50, seeks to replace our current representative Duncan Hunter, Jr. Mr. Malloy gave a tribute to the Get Out the Vote precinct walkers, acknowledging that door to door contact is the most effective way to reach voters. The two key issues he mentioned as important to him were immigration and climate change. Since his wife is from Bangladesh he indicated that they have been through the process and understand it, and that the 1 million or so people already here illegally “deserve a fair shake”. He sees the issue of climate change as an opportunity to create jobs via hardening off infrastructure such as burying electrical lines, and prioritizing the hiring of vets to do such work.
Doug Applegate, running to unseat Darrel Issa in CD 49, was unable to attend but was represented by Charlene Abretske who shared the news that recent polling shows Mr. Applegate up 4.9% over Mr. Issa. This could be a crucial win which has been recognized by the DCCC who are supporting his campaign financially. More precinct walkers would help propel his efforts even further if you care to volunteer.
At the State level the club heard from Andrew Mariel who is trying to replace Marie Waldron in State Assembly District 75. He feels that Ms. Waldron “hasn’t done much”. The district, which stretches from south Riverside County down well into San Diego County, is very diverse both in population as well as geography, which is a huge challenge. He is opposed to the Lilac Hills development in Valley Center, and is committed to “maintaining a pristine quality of life.”
Two candidates running for positions on the Palomar College Board next spoke on their priorities. Stacy Carlson spoke on behalf of Dr. John Halcon who could not attend. He is up for re-election. He is a professor at CSUSM, and is a Vietnam veteran. He has presided over “great changes” at the college, including expansion of the Veterans Center and a redo of the Child Development Center. He also hired the first woman of color to be President of the College. He oversaw the implementation of “transfer agreements” whereby students who have the proper number of credits are guaranteed the ability to transfer to UCSD, CSUSM and SDSU. He is now working to diversity the faculty to better represent both the student body and U.S. demographics. He also has endorsed Nina Deerfield, also running.
Nina Deerfield was also present. She too is running for a seat on the Palomar College Board – voters can choose up to 3 on the ballot. She is currently the publisher of the newspaper “Allianza” and is a strong advocate for public education (as opposed to charter schools). She is a frequent speaker on the “charter school problem” and feels we are in danger of losing public education which she feels is the “best chance our kids have of achieving the American dream.”
Next up were candidates for the Palomar Health Board. Again voters can choose up to 3 names on the ballot. Dale Barton and Jeff Griffith both were present. Dale described the role of the board, which is to oversee the CEO. In recent years the Board has been dominated by conservatives. Dale is running to steer the Board more in the direction of its state mandated mission: that all should have access to health care. Two thirds of patients in the Palomar Health District are MediCal and Medicare patients but the current Board has been focused more on serving the more affluent. He spoke on this from personal experience – he grew up with no health care and it wasn’t until he was in the military that he realized the value of health care for all. His goal is to ensure that all people in the district have access to quality health care with lower costs.
Jeff Griffith, also running for the Palomar Health Board, has been a fire Captain with CalFire for 27 years. He is a paramedic who got involved through his many experiences transporting people from the Ramona area to the hospital where he got to know the ER staff quite well. In 2012 he was asked by the Nurses Union to run, which he did successfully. He is now up for re-election. He is a strong supporter of labor unions and many have endorsed him. His goal is to expand services to underserved communities.
Three members running for the San Marcos Unified School District Board spoke next. Leticia Robles spoke first. She is quite proud to be the first college graduate of more than 50 cousins in her family. She has been involved from the very beginning at the elementary school level with her daughters through involvement in the PTO and the English Learning Advisory Council (she has raised her children to be bi-lingual). 40% of students in the district are Latino and she is working to improve programs for the. She is also the co-founder of the San Marcos Prevention Coalition which advocates for alcohol and drug free youths.
Janet McClean, currently the Board President, spoke next. She was appointed to an open position in 2011, then was elected in 2012. She too started her involvement at the elementary level and was very active on the Proposition K committee. She believes “all kids deserve to learn and they are the future of our community.” She is a CPA who owns her own tax practice so she also “keeps a fiscal eye out” on Board matters. She is a classroom volunteer two days a week in 2 different elementary schools even though her children are now in high school. This helps her “keep in touch and invigorated.”
Lastly we heard from Randy Walton, who gave an overview of what he said is “the finest school district in the County as data show.” There are twenty two thousand students in 19 schools with a budget of $220 million and 2,000 employees. San Marcos has one of the highest graduation rates and lowest dropout rates in the county. Test scores rank as high as any and even though the recession was difficult as the budget had to be cut by 20%, he tried to keep those cuts “as far away from the classroom as possible.” Even during the recession with the budget cuts test scores “skyrocketed”. During Randy’s time on the Board 9 schools were named “Distinguished” while 3 were rated as “California Gold Ribbon” status.
Finally Mike Hunsecker spoke to us. He is running to be on the Vallecitos Water Board for District 1 (the Twin Oaks-Mission Hills area). He feels the Board’s policies over the years have favored developers over single family and apartment dwellers. He believes that “conservation has turned into a rationing system and large developers are getting it all.” All 5 divisions of the water board are up for re-election.