SD Rostra

What’s wrong with politics in East County: The political parties ignore bad behavior

Guest Commentary
by Hon. Kristine Alessio

“The only infallible criterion of wisdom to vulgar minds – success.”   — Edmund Burke

When after a lifetime of membership I left the Republican party, I was accused of doing it for political gain on this site and in other media. But that was nothing more than ad hominem, which did not address the reason I left my party. It had lost its bearings, supported candidates who toyed with racists or involved themselves with young girls, and didn’t even blink at endorsing a candidate who is under investigation for fraud. Those were my reasons. I left the party and never looked back.

East County politics provides a perfect microcosm of what has gone wrong with both major parties, the support of deeply flawed, corrupted individuals, whether overtly or tacitly by doing nothing. Witness the latest East County politician to be the subject of controversy, David Arambula, the Democratic Councilman of Lemon Grove. As reported in the Union-Tribune on March 9, 2018, Arambula is accused of physically beating a constituent at a party where both the Mayor of Lemon Grove and a representative of the San Diego County Democratic Party were present; and not just allegedly beating him, but biting him, all this occurring it seems after a night of drinking that ended with the midnight brawl. The City of Lemon Grove is now subject to a lawsuit, headed by a well-known San Diego litigator, Cory Briggs.

Yet where is the San Diego County Democratic Party on this? Have they called for his resignation? No, not a word. Business as usual with Arambula, the alleged beater and biter, remaining in his council position and remaining in his Board position at the Metropolitan Transit System. Why? Where is the outrage? He is accused of beating a man.

Prior to Arambula the San Diego County Democratic Party stayed low with the outrageous conduct of El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho.  To date Kalasho: 1) Has been sued by a beauty contest contestant who claims he propositioned her and then refused to pay her the grand prize monies in his beauty contest; 2) Has filed spurious and rejected complaints against both Mayor Bill Wells and Councilman Gary Kendrick with the State Department of Fair Employment and Housing; 3) Has preposterously threatened newspapers with litigation with the temerity to criticize him; and 4) Is under investigation for fraudulently transferring real property in order to hide it from prospective litigants. Yet where is the San Diego County Democratic Party? Despite this outlandish behavior from a man even his fellow Democrats call “The Donald Trump of East County,” they are hoping district elections in El Cajon will solve their problem with Kalasho.

And lest this appear a partisan diatribe, let me assure you the Republican Party of San Diego is just as guilty. Witness another East County star in the ongoing show known as “Terrible Politicians with Party Support” — Congressman Duncan D. Hunter, running for re-election in the 5oth District. Known in D.C. political circles as a “party boy” who spends his time playing video games, Hunter is under investigation for substantial campaign finance violations, using campaign funds to, among other things, treat his family to vacations, buy an airplane seat for a pet rabbit, and pay his kids’ private school tuition. Being the gentleman that he is, Hunter chooses to blame his own wife for these problems (Classy!). And how did the Republican Party of San Diego respond? – worse than nothing, they endorsed him early for re-election and continue to stand by that decision, even when given a conservative choice in Mayor Bill Wells of El Cajon.

In summary, it’s clear the two major parties would rather have anyone, biters, cheaters, or frauds in office than allow an opponent with the wrong initial behind their name to win. They blow endless smoke about their respective positions on taxes, immigration, women’s rights, and gun control, but do they have a soul, do they tell the truth, do they acknowledge basic decency? Is there anything that would make them risk a D or an R seat being lost? If East County is an example, the answer is No.

San Diego County currently has the third highest number of No Party Preference (NPP) voters in the State at 28.5 percent as of January 2018. There’s a reason for this, when a party supports and condones despicable behavior from those they endorse, the voters are not happy. Those who are candid see through their party leaders’ partisan platitudes and leave. Good for them. Their ranks are growing. NPP statewide has grown to within .4 percentage of Republican registration. Democrats as well are not immune from this trend. In the entire County, and East County is no exception, the number of NPP voters is rising with every new scandal, locally, statewide and at the Federal level.

The best place to re-establish trust between politicians, parties and voters is at the local level where people’s voices and votes count the most.  Currently, the Republican Party of San Diego and the San Diego County Democratic party have no interest in doing so. Unless they change, they may soon find themselves without members, money and voters. Maybe this is exactly what our democracy needs.

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Alessio is a Member of the La Mesa City Council.

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