By now you should have received your primary ballot in the mail. For the first time, California will be doing a March primary instead of June- so this is a remarkable event in and of itself. However, on that ballot, you will be voting for your choice to represent you on the san Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee. This is an important race because these are the people who will be voting for the next 4 years to make endorsements in every local race that will be on the ballot in San Diego county.
Now, why are these seats so important? Well, in 2018 for example, the Central Committee endorsed four candidates for City Council in the city of San Diego. Of those four candidates, only one of them won. But here’s the thing- in two of the three other races, the seat didn’t go to a Republican, but another Democrat. In those two races, I voted to endorse the women who eventually won the seats. Why did I endorse them? Because I went out and talked to people who lived in those communities to see who they wanted to represent them and the overwhelming majority of them wanted Monica Montgomery and Vivian Moreno. How did the party get it so wrong? Simple, there are way too many people on the Central Committee who think they are there to tell you- the voter- what to do. I don’t know about you, but I want representatives that listen and do what I tell them to do, not the other way around. The people who got endorsed in these two races were backed by the power brokers in the party- power brokers who need to GO! So that’s a big part of why I’m doing this. I put a tremendous amount of time into thinking of questions that will give an indication of a person’s ability to work well with others, admit and learn from their mistakes and put the needs of others ahead of their own.
I was actually shocked at how few questionnaires I got back. Even more shocking were people who were running for this committee that refused to respond because they didn’t know me well enough! Yet these same people want YOU to vote for THEM and you probably don’t know them at all! Right there should be a red flag for you.
Others criticized me because I didn’t jump through hoops to contact them. One person said, “I find it hard to believe the person didn’t have or couldn’t find an email address for me.” Except when I went to the place where I’m supposed to find their email address, namely the Registrar of Voters they didn’t list any contact information at all!! I was really hoping that some of the new people running would be better than some of the incumbents but I’m realizing that this 2020 field is full of landmines- old and new. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid them.
But I really don’t want you to take my word for these important seats- after all, you most likely don’t know me, and I don’t know you. I want you to do what’s best for you and your community. So right now, I’m going to give you a lesson on a quick and easy way to research these candidates.
The first thing you need to do is to go to the registrar of voters at sdvote.com. You’re going to need to know what California Assembly District you live in. If you have your ballot in front of you, that information will on it. But if you need to, check your voter registration on this website. Once you have your Assembly District go back to the home page. On the right side of the screen click on the box that says, “upcoming election information.”
Then scroll down and on public notices and more, click on “candidate information.”
Scroll down again and click on the “candidate list.” This will pull up a pdf. You’ll need to scroll down to page 14 and you’ll come to “Dem Central Committee- 71st Assembly.”
From there scroll down to your Assembly District to find your candidates. Now a couple of things: the Republicans are also voting for their members as well, so make sure that you are on the correct page. Second, on the far-right column of the page says whether they qualified for the ballot or not. You’re only going to be able to vote for the people who have qualified for the ballot.
Now that you have the list of your candidates, look to see if they have given you any contact information. If they haven’t, then they likely don’t want to hear from you. After all, how hard is it to set up a Gmail account just for this purpose? Now I’m going to tell you that I have recommended some people who didn’t list their contact information, so this rule is not hard and fast, but I can tell you that the few people like that I did recommend are the exception and not the rule. Of the candidates who are left, reach out to them. Drop them an email or send them a text message. See if they respond. If they don’t respond, then you have your answer as to how much of a priority you are to them. Finally, try respectfully disagreeing with the person and see how they respond. This will tell you volumes about them. Do they react with questions asking you why you feel that way? Do they just dismiss you? Or are they ignorant enough to start arguing with you? You can learn a whole lot about a person by doing this. But, also, be nice about it.
Now you might be thinking that this is going to be a whole lot of work. It really isn’t. Or maybe you’re just a little shy and don’t like to contact people. With all the stuff going on right now, isn’t saving our party, our democracy, and our country worth a few minutes of your time or a little bit of courage?
If you really are uncomfortable or because of the economy and your seven jobs, don’t have the time to do any of this, don’t worry. I’ve got your back.
This process proved to be very interesting. Most candidates ignored me. A few said they’d send the questionnaire in but didn’t. And then it turned out that one of the candidates sent me an email saying that they wouldn’t respond to my questions until I responded to theirs. Realize that I do everything in this blog myself. I write, produce, film, research, publish, lighting and so on- and I do it for free. Which is why I only blog when I feel very strongly about something. It’s a tremendous amount of work. I really don’t have time to handhold someone who wants others to vote for them. In addition, several of this person’s questions would have given them an edge on their competitors. I ignored this person and so they took to Facebook to plant seeds of doubt about me and my blog. Not a single person from this candidate’s district responded. Wow! Now I’m not saying that this was their intention but talk about a way to knock out the competition!
Here’s the thing- when I came up with this idea, I thought I’d ask all of you to help me review the questionnaires and come up with recommendations. But the response was so low, that I’ve decided to make endorsements in these races based upon my personal experience on the Central Committee, knowing what skills and temperament are needed to have a fair and functioning process. I’m making the questionnaires I received available on my blog for all of you to check out and come to your own conclusions based upon what I’m going to disclose about the candidates I am endorsing and the questionnaires I have received.
The questionnaires included a question about lifetime appointees. Currently, there are nine members of the Central Committee who are lifetime appointees. They are given these appointments due to their hard work and dedication to the party. But here’s the thing- there are no criteria for who gets these appointments. They are nominated by the chair and then ratified by a simple majority vote of the committee. More important, these nine people can never be held accountable to the voters for their votes. Ever. I get trying to find a way to honor a lifetime of work but not at the expense of democracy. Could you imagine if Congress just decided to do that? So, this was my litmus test question. If a candidate did not support removing that bylaw (or advocate that there was a problem), they were automatically excluded. Likewise, if they said they supported Donald Trump in the 2016 primary, but fortunately, no one said that.
Some of the candidates I know and others I am acquainted with. I only had one person whom I didn’t know responded, and they got my endorsement. Finally, some districts I made recommendations and others I didn’t. Because AD 76 is such an important district in this race, I spoke to three people from that district who are familiar with the Central Committee and its procedures (but are not members or candidates).
Assembly District 71
I did not receive a single questionnaire back. So, I’m sorry that I can’t make any endorsements in that race. This is one in which you are going to have to do your own research.
Assembly District 75
Acceptable: Antonio Robles, Wayne Lu, Gloria Conejo, Vanessa Valenzuela.
Recommend with reservations: Nicolle Leeds
This is my district and I received three questionnaires back. I am endorsing two wholeheartedly and one I am recommending with reservations: Georgine Tomasi and Terry Corrales both have my strong endorsement. I also received a questionnaire from Nikki Leeds and it breaks my heart that I can’t fully endorse her. However, her stance on vaccines is very problematic for me. I know her personally and have for years. She’s brilliant, fair, hard-working, diplomatic, et cetera but she also is someone who I believe gets her facts about vaccines from unreliable sources. With us on the verge of a pandemic with Coronavirus, I just think there’s too much at stake. It’s a shame because there are so many things about her that are great and would be great on the Central Committee but this is one thing that I will toss to you and let you decide on. If you have any reservations, I’m hoping to get her on camera in the next few weeks so you can hear her side of it and decide if she will be the one for you. Now Antonio Robles was involved in a car accident recently and wasn’t able to meet the deadline for the questionnaire. He was my alternate on the Central Committee and I think the world of him. I will be voting for him as well. For the rest of the ticket, I will be likely to vote for the rest of Georgine and Terry’s slate, which is Wayne Lu, Vanessa Valenzuela, and Gloria Conejo. I know Georgine and trust her judgment on these matters.
Assembly District 76 Endorsements
Recommended: Maria McEneany and Sheri Sachs
This is THE problem district for me. There are some really, really bad eggs running in that district. And the battleground has been Oceanside. These bad people support Chuck Lowery, the former City Council member who appointed a Republican for mayor of that city, giving the Republicans a strong majority on that council. He continually voted against the only other Democrat on the City Council and sided with the Republicans on the vast majority of his votes. When he was brought forward to the North County Caucus of the Central Committee (by people who lived in Oceanside) to have a vote of no confidence, these people voted against it and in favor of him. Every single one of those members needs to be voted out. Therefore, my endorsement list is Oceanside heavy because that city is a mess as a result of the County Democratic Party and it’s their duty to repair it. They broke it, they need to fix it and heads need to roll in order to do that. I’m endorsing people that are going to reclaim that city to make it best for the Democrats who live there.
I received five questionnaires back and am endorsing four. First, I am endorsing oceanside City Council member Esther Sanchez. Now full disclosure- Esther is one of my best friends. So, in the interest of fairness, I asked several acquaintances I know who live in this district and Esther was on every one of their lists. As a result, I’m fairly certain that I am not letting my bias toward her cloud my judgment here. In addition, she and I butt heads on issues all the time and still are very good friends. She’s fair and open-minded and loves her community like no one else. She will always do what’s right- even if it’s at her own expense. Next is Linda Slater. I have to say, Linda and I did not always see eye to eye on things. But she has proven her absolute worth as president of DEMCCO and has earned my support. She’s fair, will own her mistakes and learn from them, is a hard worker and a smart and strategic thinker. I’m very proud to endorse her, and like Esther, she is on the lists of everyone I spoke to in that district. Rob Howard is my next endorsement. Rob has strong organizational skills, is kind and diplomatic. I was very impressed with his questionnaire. And while he wasn’t on everyone’s list that I spoke to, he was on enough of the lists to make me pretty sure I’m making a good choice here. Finally, Kyle Krahel has my full endorsement. I’ve known him for many years, and he has proven time and time again to have the ability to do what needs to be done for the party, even if that’s not what his preference would be. He also works for Congressman Mike Levin and was unanimously supported by the people I spoke to. Those are the candidates I am endorsing in this district.
Now, Maria McEneany is having some health issues that prevented her from submitting a questionnaire by the deadline, so while I can’t fully endorse her, I can say that I would vote for her if I lived in that district. Like all the candidates here, she and I sometimes disagree about issues and/or candidates, but we still respect each other. She has proven to be smart, hardworking and always makes her decisions with ethics in mind. The final person I would vote for if I lived in that district is Sheri Sachs. Like everyone else on this list, Sheri is smart, hardworking, kind and open-minded. One thing to mention, neither Maria nor Sheri live in Oceanside, so this balances out the list a little.
Mike Bullock also submitted a questionnaire.
Assembly District 77- Endorsements
Recommended: Ryan Trabuco, Octavio Aguilar
Now before I begin, I need to give full disclosure that I didn’t talk to anyone from this district- so the recommendations are my own and no one else’s.
I am endorsing Lauren Bier and Melinda Vasquez for this seat. I served with them on the Central Committee. They both are hardworking, understand what is needed on the Central Committee. They are incredible when it comes to open-mindedness, fairness and understanding of the bylaws. They listen to all sides before making decisions. The fact is if I could clone these two women and fill the Central Committee with them I would because then our party would be unstoppable. They are running on a slate with Ryan Trabuco. I would wholeheartedly vote for him in that district if I lived there. As president of the Dems for Equality, he is an LGBTQ leader in the community. He’s polite, smart, hardworking and quite frankly is excellent at avoiding all the drama. Finally, again, if I lived in this district, I would also vote for Octavio Aguilar. He’s a retired judge who doesn’t say much at the meetings but listens very well. He’s honest and ethical and like Ryan doesn’t get mixed up in the drama. As for the rest of their slate, I can’t speak to any of them because I don’t know them. Now normally, I would trust Lauren and Melinda’s judgment on all things. However, I had an interaction with one person who is on their slate that leaves me scratching my head. I won’t go into details but, sadly, this calls into question the rest of the slate. So, I can’t really say one way or the other about how to vote. I’m also not saying you shouldn’t vote for these people. I hope to have Lauren and/or Melinda in front of the camera for an interview and maybe we can clear this up.
Assembly Districts 78 and 79
I did not get a single questionnaire returned, which means that I can’t endorse anyone. People in these districts are going to have to take my advice and do their own research.
Assembly District 80
I got one questionnaire returned by Steve Castaneda and boy did he hit it out of the ballpark. Steve did a tremendous job on his questionnaire. His vast experience in all aspects of politics makes him a very great person for this committee. I also served with him when I was on the Central Committee. He’s another real deal candidate. He really cares about his community and the party. I’m not going to make any recommendations in this district since I haven’t spoken to anyone there. However, I’m hoping to get Steve in front of the camera and maybe he can tell us whom he would like to serve with?
I hope this post helps you make a decision about what is best for you in your district. And the fact that you are voting in this historic primary is awesome!! Give yourself a big congratulations on that and know that you have my sincere thanks. Please feel free to email me if you need further assistance with this race. You can reach me at TheLiberalDiva@Gmail.com.
Full disclosure: I edited the format of some of the questionnaires to make them more readable. The edits included changing the font size and adding paragraph breaks. Also, personal contact information will remain redacted until I get full permission from the candidates to disclose it. The original questionnaires were sent out using Word for the ease of the candidates and then I converted them to PDF. One of the candidates returned their questionnaire in a jpeg format and I combined it into a pdf file. Finally, I had all the candidates sign a release which is not included in the posted file. Other than removing the consent page and redacting contact information, no other content was edited.