City Attorney and D7 Debates, Endorsement Votes Highlight Local Dems February Meeting

Large Crowd Braves the Elements and Enjoys Block/Atkins Tilt

Coming off a sensational clash at our January meeting between two progressive champions, State Senator Marty Block and Speaker of the Assembly Toni Atkins, each running for the 39th State Senatorial seat, the La Mesa-Foothills Democratic Club will be back at it in February with another outstanding set of debates and endorsement votes. Featured will be the 3 great Democratic candidates for San Diego City Attorney: Rafael Castellanos, Gil Cabrera, and Mara Elliot. All are lawyers with extensive and diverse backgrounds in public service.

Attendees will be equally pleased by an exchange between two enthusiastic Navy veterans running for the San Diego City Council District 7 seat: Jose Caballero and Justin DeCesare. Both debates will be followed by Club endorsement votes, with the first candidate to get 60% support earning the prestigious LMFDC stamp of approval. We’ll also be voting on an endorsement for the Citizens’ Plan for San Diego as presented in January by local powerhouse attorney Cory Briggs.

The La Mesa-Foothills Democratic Club, representing hundreds of like-minded progressives in La Mesa, San Carlos, Spring Valley, College, and many other nearby East County communities, meets the first Wednesday of each month at the La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr., at University Ave. in La Mesa. It’s just a couple minutes off the Spring Street exit of I-8.

Our agenda will begin at 6:30 PM with our ever popular social ½ hour, with snacks, sweets, camaraderie and beverages, followed by the formal meeting starting promptly at 7 PM. The City Attorney Debate will kick-off shortly thereafter, with the D7 forum following at approximately 8 PM.

Both debates will feature a series of questions on issues that concern all city and county residents. You can depend on some of the questions touching on the Briggs/Frye Citizens’ Plan measure, stadium/convention center funding, infrastructure and traffic concerns, the Chargers, growth and development, environmental issues, climate action plans, SANDAG planning, medical marijuana, and many other topics that concern our diverse membership.

The candidates for City Attorney

Rafael Castellanos

Rafael Castellanos received his college degree from Arizona State University and a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. Eventually, he made his way to Los Angeles to practice law, then to San Diego where he found his calling, immersing himself in the law and in using the law to serve his community.

He is a Member of the Board of Commissioners of the Unified Port of San Diego having been appointed by the San Diego City Council. He Chairs the Port’s Environmental Advisory Committee. Among his many civic roles he has served on the Board of MANA de San Diego, the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association, and Teach for America – San Diego. He has worked with the San Diego Foundation to address climate change preparation and has also worked tirelessly at the Port to address the issue of chronic homelessness on the waterfront.

Gil Cabrera pic

Gil Cabrera

Gil Cabrera was the first in his family to finish college (at California State University Fullerton) and the only person to go to graduate school (at Boston College School of Law). During his career, Gil has represented a broad spectrum of clients – from some of the largest companies in the country to small local businesses — as litigation counsel and outside General Counsel. In 2007, Gil started the Cabrera Firm, where he has continued to provide legal advice to small and growing companies as General Counsel.

For seven years, Gil served as an appointed Judge Pro Tem of the Superior Court, hearing hundreds of Small Claims and Traffic Court trials. In 1999, Gil joined the Make-A-Wish Foundation of San Diego board of directors and in 2002 was named chairman of the board. In 2003, Gil was appointed to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America’s National Board of Directors. In this role, Gil was responsible for overseeing the performance of every Make-A-Wish chapter in the country.

In 2005, Gil was appointed by the Mayor and City Council to the San Diego Ethics Commission, which monitors and enforces the City’s campaign finance and ethics laws and proposes new governmental ethics law reforms. Between 2007 and 2009, Gil served as the Ethics Commission’s Chairman. During his tenure, the Ethics Commission recommended, and the City Council passed, a complete overhaul of the City’s Lobbying Ordinance, which created greater transparency of lobbying activities in San Diego.

Most recently, in February 2014, Gil was appointed by Interim Mayor Todd Gloria and the San Diego City Council to the San Diego Convention Center Corporation’s Board of Directors, which oversees the operations of the San Diego Convention Center. Gil presently serves as Chair of the Board’s Budget Committee overseeing the Convention Center’s $33 million budget.

Mara Elliot pic

Mara Elliott

As Chief Deputy City Attorney, Mara Elliott leads the City’s legal team responsible for reforming city contracting practices, strengthening city audits and enforcing environmental protection laws. Mara advises the City’s influential and independent Audit Committee and the City Council’s Committee on the Environment.

Previously, Mara served as general counsel to community college and K-12 school districts as well as counsel to the County of San Diego and the San Diego Metropolitan Transit Development Board. Mara serves on the League of California Cities’ Public Records Act Committee and was an editor of the California Municipal Law Handbook.

A long-time community leader, Mara Elliott chairs a committee of the San Diego Lawyers Club working to advance the status of women in the law. A public school parent, Mara is a leader on her son’s local School Site Council. Mara also serves as trustee of the San Diego County Law Library and was recently honored as Advocate of the Year for her work for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The daughter of a Longshoreman father and mother who emigrated from Mexico, Mara Elliott graduated from UC Santa Barbara and University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.

The candidates for District 7


Jose Caballero

Native born Texan Jose Caballero was accepted to the prestigious Naval Nuclear Power School where he became a nuclear engineer for the United States Navy. He served in the Navy for six years. Four of those years were spent here in San Diego when he was a reactor operator for the USS Ronald Reagan. He did four deployments in the hostile waters of the gulf supporting operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

Afterwards, Jose went to San Diego State University to receive a degree in Political Science.. He has been a mentor for underprivileged youth and organized multiple cleanups across the city. His most recent achievement was working on the Kevin Beiser for School Board Campaign.

justin decesare

Justin DeCesare

Justin DeCesare is a local businessman and broker in the real estate industry, the President of the Tierrasanta Community Council, the father of two young children, and a 8-year veteran of the United States Navy.

Justin believes that a strong middle class builds a strong regional economy. He is proud of his experiences in the Navy and gladly represents his neighbors in the real estate industry and as President of the Tierrasanta Community Council. He would like to continue that service in the community as the San Diego City Council representative for District 7.

The La Mesa-Foothills Democratic Club is one of the largest and most active chartered Democratic Clubs in San Diego County. Our March meeting will continue our series of candidate forums, local issues and endorsements, and will give everyone a chance to weigh in on the Presidential race. Please visit our website at for more information and like us on Facebook.




Veteran Peace Activist and Author

Veteran Peace Activist and Author

 to Headline May Meeting for Local Dems

7th Annual Yard Sale also on May Calendar

The La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club, with members from San Carlos, Allied Gardens, Grantville, Del Cerro, College Area, La Mesa, Mt. Helix, Spring Valley, Santee and other East County areas will be holding a very memorable meeting on Wednesday night, May 6th.

Our speaker will be Peggi Chute, author of “Soul of a Nation:  A Historical Novel About Selma.”  She published the book in time for the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and attended the recent Commemoration of the Pettus Bridge crossing in Selma.  Peggi will have copies of the book available for autograph and sale.

Peggi is a life-long activist for peace and social justice.  After the Columbine, Colorado mass shootings, Peggi created the Teaching Peace Project for the Council of Churches and Synagogues in Stamford, Conn.  She served as its director and taught the program in three school districts.  She served on Mayor Dannel Malloy’s Council on Youth (he’s now Governor of Connecticut), and also ran a workshop at the first United Nations NGO conference at the UN in New York.

Peggi now lives in Lake San Marcos and has been a San Diego County resident for 4 years.  She’s a proud UCLA graduate in Film Studies and was a film editor in Hollywood for a number of years.  She’s also lived in the Monterey Peninsula area where she taught music and worked for Planned Parenthood as an Outreach Educator.  Don’t miss her presentation and buy a book to take home.

Several days prior to our May 6th meeting, LMFDC will hold it’s now famous and very popular YARD SALE.  On Saturday, May 2nd, from 8 AM-1 PM, scores of bargain hunters will descend on 5009 Randlett Dr. in La Mesa.  Our sale is known for its quality and quantity of unique items as our members have saved special merchandise just for this sale!  If you have goods that you would like to donate to our sale, please contact Mary Jane Tanquary at 619 818-5883.  Goods must be in clean, saleable condition and easily transportable.  Help contribute to our popular sale as either a buyer or contributor.  Please don’t bring donated goods the day of the sale.

Our April meeting was a very educational affair, with Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos teaching us all we needed to know about the Unified Port District and its great responsibility in maintaining our tidelands, waterfront, and airport.  The Port’s many environmental programs and initiatives were a particular point of emphasis.  Rafael also announced his entry into the 2016 SD City Attorney’s race.  We wish him well.

While the Port District has already set in motion it’s Climate Action Plan to reduce waste and greenhouse gases, Nicole Capretz walked us through the many reasons the cities of San Diego County need to adopt and implement their own versions of similar programs.

As author of the City of San Diego’s CAP under Mayor Gloria, Nicole and her Climate Action Campaign are a major force in getting San Diego to adopt and implement an aggressive greenhouse gas reduction plan of it’s own.  We are at a tipping point in SD County, and efforts like Nicole’s and others must pave the way for live-able communities for all residents for generations to come.

La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club meets on the first Wednesday of every month at the La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr., at University Ave. in La Mesa.  We have social hour beginning at 6:30 PM with business and speakers to follow at 7 PM.  Refreshments are served as provided by our members and all guests are welcomed.  Please find us at and like us on Facebook.

Linda Armacost, President

La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club

Social Media Guru to Headline March Meeting – La Mesa Mayor also to Address Membership

La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club, serving all of Grantville, San Carlos, Del Cerro, Allied Gardens, College Area, La Mesa, Mt. Helix, Santee and close-in East County, will extend their current streak of outstanding speakers with a talk by Internet Expert John Loughlin on Wednesday, March 4th at 6:30 PM.

imagesJohn specializes in teaching the uninitiated about organizing their lives, worldview and communication skills through the use of Facebook, Twitter and other Social Media.

With nearly 50% of adults over 50 regularly using Facebook and other online blogs and publications, it’s time we all learn how to maximize our internet skills to keep abreast of all the latest developments, arguments and facts that corporations would rather we didn’t know about. Electing not to use digital tools reduces our ability to engage, educate and persuade citizens with our ideas and values. Luckily there are a lot of folks already online to help us learn the new tools, find alternative news sites and to share ideas on building a more just and sustainable future.

Our meeting place, the La Mesa Community Center (4975 Memorial Drive, La Mesa, just off University Ave.) now has free Wi-Fi and will allow John, with just a short overview, to show us the shortcuts to posting pictures and opinion to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and how we can expand the reach of our club to Democrats and Progressives everywhere. Please bring your laptop, smart phone, iPad or tablet, and participate in this unique opportunity. Our social hour begins at 6:30 PM and everyone is welcomed.

John graduated in physics from Imperial College, London after exploding unconfined vapor clouds for British Gas. He moved to California in 1993 as head of product R&D at Counterpoint Electronic Systems in Carlsbad. He founded his own consultancy business in San Diego in 1996, managing the development of software, hardware & services for global communication, media and consumer electronics companies.

He knows something about Technology Prognostication, Information Services, and Progressive Politics. He is a card carrying member of the ACLU, and longtime supporter of Amnesty International. For the GO Team he is a Precinct Leader and data coordinator for the Point Loma, Ocean Beach and Midway areas. John chairs the communications committee of the Pt. Loma Dem. Club, and works with other Clubs throughout the county to improve their websites and Social Media channels. John is currently working with the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club to upgrade our website. You can reach him at

You can download his presentation here (PDF).

Arapostathis%20headshot-KHK_0We’ll also have the pleasure of hearing the newly elected Mayor of La Mesa, Mark Arapostathis address the membership. He’s willing to discuss any and all issues facing the community, so please come prepared to ask the Mayor whatever is on your mind.

Mark Arapostathis has lived in La Mesa his entire life. He attended Lemon Avenue Elementary School, La Mesa Middle School, and graduated from Helix High School. Since 1992 he has taught in the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District at Murdock Elementary, Lemon Avenue Elementary and Rolando Elementary. He is currently the Director of Theatre Arts at La Mesa Arts Academy. “Dr. A” as he is known, was honored as one of San Diego County’s Teachers of the Year.

Dr. Arapostathis served for 8 years as a City Councilman. Before joining the City Council, Dr. A served on the La Mesa Community Services Commission. He was the president of the La Mesa Arts Alliance as well as a founding member of the “Sundays at Six” concert series, held each summer at Harry Griffen Park amphitheater.

February 4 – Speaker: Christopher Yanov CEO of Reality Changers

La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club, the third largest chartered club in San Diego County, and serving the communities of Del Cerro, Allied Gardens, San Carlos, College Area, La Mesa, Mt. Helix, Santee and Casa de Oro, will have a fantastic speaker headlining their Wednesday, Feb. 4 meeting.

Recently named one of the most-admired CEOs by the San Diego Business Journal and one of San Diego’s new civic power brokers by San Diego Magazine, Christopher Yanov raised and awarded over $1 million in scholarships to inner-city students before turning 30 years old.

Christopher Yanov
Mr. Yanov earned four college degrees in just five years. He graduated in two and a half years from both UC San Diego (with Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Spanish Literature) and the University of San Diego (with Master’s degrees in Peace & Justice and International Relations).

Previously, Mr. Yanov worked with gang members for five years before starting Reality Changers in May 2001 with just $300, yet now the program’s students have earned $60 million in scholarships from all sources. He credits his appearance on “Wheel of Fortune” in late 2001 for providing the initial financial support for Reality Changers to truly become a bona fide program.

Mr. Yanov has also served on the San Diego Commission on Gang Prevention & Intervention as well as the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Education & Workforce Development Committee.

Currently, Mr. Yanov serves on the Tijuana Innovadora Binational Committee, the University of San Diego’s Emerging Leaders Council, the Voice of San Diego Member Council, and the Federal Employees Scholarship Foundation. He is also presently putting the finishing touches on his book, “The Tightrope Theory: Why Prevention Programs May Do More Harm Than Good.

Our club will also host the return of Larry and Arlene Howe, longtime club stalwarts, who will be visiting San Diego after an absence of nearly two years. The Howes are currently living in Italy, and will share details of their wonderful European experience with their many friends and admirers.

People are still raving about the environmental policy lesson they got from our inspirational January speakers, the dynamic duo from our local Sierra Club Political Committee, Davin Widgerow and Brian Elliott. The Sierra Club of San Diego shares our concerns about climate change, fracking, traffic and pollution, over-development of our open spaces and parkland, water quality, and so much more. We learned a lot about legal precedence in local environmental battles, issues that we will face with the new Congress, and the role the Sierra Club will play in the pivotal 2016 election. It turns out most of the 75 club members present were also members of the Sierra Club, so many of the beautiful photos and storied history of the Sierra Club shared by Davin and Brian were a great and meaningful refresher as to why our clubs share so many common goals. Many key battles lay ahead for progressives and environmentalists in San Diego County, the state of California, and nationally.

We also bid a tearful goodbye to our longtime treasurer and friend, Ann Stiles, who’s moving to Hemet to be closer to family. She will be sorely missed, and was always appreciated! Good luck Ann!

Our club meets at the very nice La Mesa Community Center, just up the hill from the intersection of Memorial Drive and University Avenue. We have a social half hour at 6:30 p.m., featuring snacks and desserts provided by members, and then meetings start at 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend as our guests, and we promise to have you home by 9 p.m. Please visit our website at, or like us on our Facebook page.

Noted Law Professor to Headline December Meeting

Marjorie Cohn PicLocal Dems to celebrate season with Annual Holiday Feast

The La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club, with members from Allied Gardens, San Carlos, the College Area, Del Cerro, as well as the East County communities of La Mesa, Santee and Mt. Helix, will hear noted Law Professor and author Marjorie Cohn at their annual holiday meeting, Wednesday, December 3rd. We meet at the La Mesa Community Center at 4975 Memorial Dr., just off of University Avenue in La Mesa. Guests are welcomed at all meetings!

As is our custom, we will have a our Annual Club Holiday Party featuring fresh baked Turkeys and Ham, all the trimmings, and a multitude of sides and desserts. We start the meeting at 6 PM to have plenty of time to enjoy the food, the music and the camaraderie. We are pleased to welcome back wonderful flamenco guitarist Anthony Garcia who will play for the group during our social hour.

Our meeting will be highlighted by Professor Cohn, who has just released her 5th book, Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral and Geo-political Issues. Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, where she teaches criminal law and procedure, evidence, and international human rights law. A former president of the National Lawyers Guild, she is U.S. representative to the executive council of the American Association of Jurists. Cohn is also the author of Cowboy Republic, Rules of Disengagement, Cameras in the Courtroom, and United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse. She lectures throughout the world on human rights and U.S. foreign policy and the contradiction between the two. Marjorie will have books available for signing and sale at the meeting.

Our members make a pledge every year to help others less fortunate in our community. This year, we are teaming up with the St. Vincent De Paul Society at Santa Sophia Catholic Church in Casa de Oro. Their outreach program serves the needs of over 400 local families with an ongoing Food Pantry and other essential services. Members are encouraged to bring to our meeting a collection of non-perishable foods and dry goods.

It’s suggested the best items are: Pasta, Rice, Beans, Canned Vegetables and Fruits, Pasta Sauce, Peanut Butter, Boxed Cereal, Meal Helpers, Tuna, Mac & Cheese and Cake mix. Also valuable would be paper goods and tissues, toothpaste and brushes, deodorant, shampoo, cleaning products and laundry detergent. So open up your pantry and your heart and help feed and nourish the needy this holiday season.

Finally, a big thank you is in order for Senator Marty Block, who enlightened and delighted our November gathering and told us the election results in California were something we could all be proud of. All state-wide Democratic office holders were re-elected, as was our local Assemblyperson, Dr. Shirley Weber, and our local Congressperson Susan Davis. Scott Peters was winning (and now has won) the hotly contested 52nd CD race over Carl DeMaio. Marty also informed us about some of the significant and successful bills he had signed by Governor Brown this year including one making certain 4 year degrees available at 16 Community Colleges in California. And lastly, he reminded us all that 2016 is 2 short years away!

State Senator Block to Headline November Meeting for Local Dems

2008-11-13 Block Photo cropped

None other than our own Marty Block, State Senator for the 39th District, which encompasses most of San Diego and La Mesa, will be our featured speaker at the November 5th meeting of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club. Since this meeting immediately follows the Nov. 4th election, Marty will do some expert analysis of the voting results, and also do a complete rundown of the recently completed Senate session in Sacramento. As a veteran of over 30 years of service to the community, as Member and President of the San Diego Board of Education, Member and President of the San Diego Community College Board, and a Dean and Director at SDSU, he has focused on education and budgetary issues during his time in Sacramento. Marty was our 78th District Assembly person for 2 terms prior to his election to Senate in 2012.

Not only does Marty serve currently on the Senate Education Committee, he chairs the subcommittee on Education finance. He also sits on committees dealing with banking, energy, utilities, business and economic development, communications, autism, passenger rail and veterans affairs. He’s had a great deal of legislative success during his 6 year tenure in Sacramento, just this year paving the way for Governor Brown’s signature on a landmark bill enabling future Community College grads to achieve a 4 year degree. Marty’s presentation should be an ideal wrap up to our busy election season.

Our October meeting was a valuable and informative prelude to our November 4th voting day with the wonderful Dr. Shirley Weber giving us a rousing summary of the just completed Assembly session and her many contributions to a very successful 2014 legislative session. We long ago pledged our support to her re-election campaign in the 79th Assembly District.

We also had the pleasure of a surprise visit by none other than Congressperson Susan Davis, who inspired us to get out and work for all the local Democratic Candidates in this pivotal election, and her hopes that her next term in Washington will not be fraught with the intransigence of a do-nothing House and often dead-locked Senate. She related well the frustrations that she and her Democratic colleagues felt when they couldn’t get much of anything to the floor concerning key issues like climate change, immigration, worker’s and women’s rights, fair pay, minimum wage, banking reform, veterans benefits, and much, much more.

La Mesa Mayor Art Madrid spoke to our club for the first time in his long tenure as mayor and city councilman, and urged us to support his many city initiatives.   Inspired, our club voted unanimously to “not object” to his candidacy, the highest endorsement we can give to a non-Democratic candidate in a race for a non-partisan office. In a related race, our membership pledged to work for and help elect our very own Patrick Dean to La Mesa City Council, and to urge La Mesa Democrats to vote only once, for Patrick.

Jack Shu, another member of our club and President of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, gave us a refresher course on the progress of the fight against the plans by Sandag and Caltrans to do little else but widen freeways in their long range County Transportation Plan. That this doesn’t nearly meet the State requirements for reduced carbon emissions is the crux of the problem. And doesn’t bold well for future generations of San Diego County residents.

Please join us for our November and all future meetings of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club. We meet at the La Mesa Community Center on the first Wednesday of every month. We have social hour at 6:30 PM with conversation and refreshments. Our meetings start at 7PM.

Local Dem Club Looks Forward and Backward in Key Summer Meetings


La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club will welcome David Rolland as their Keynote speaker at their September 3rd Meeting. Rolland, editor of San Diego CityBeat, an alternative newsweekly; is a self proclaimed lover of music, baseball, politics and whiskey. His irreverent approach to San Diego County politics will be the gist of his remarks as he prepares us for what to expect in the rapidly approaching Fall Election Season.

Known for his acerbic wit, Rolland is famous for calling ’em as he sees them, and his observations of the last decade of the San Diego political scene are full of keen insight and accurate predictions of future events. We’ll ask him to predict the results of the Fall election and why things should occur as they will. Perhaps he will recap his hilarious San Diego politicians as Star Wars characters for us. We look forward to this brilliant investigative journalist and will surely greet him with our own brand of hard questioning!

We looked back at our own colorful past at our tremendous August Anniversary meeting with Club founder Beverly Cassier, 94 years young, cutting our 30th Anniversary Cake! We were treated to a fantastic concert by satirist/singer/song writer Roy Zimmerman that everyone greatly enjoyed as he kicked off his Blue Dot tour with a gala performance in front of over 100 members and guests. We hope the San Francisco based Zimmerman will make our appreciative audience a regular stop.

Local politicos are starting to make regular appearances at Club Meetings as the election season is moving into high gear, and we should see many local and regional candidates at our September and October meetings. It’s time to get the vote out for our local hopefuls. Patrick Dean has pulled papers for La Mesa City Council, and we’ll get an update on his promising campaign. La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club meets the first Wednesday of each month at the La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Drive, at University Ave. Meetings start with Social time at 6:30 PM and Club business at 7 PM. All are welcome, as our members bring wide variety of snacks and desserts. Don’t miss our September election preview with David Rolland. Check out, or like us on Facebook.

Noted Satirist to Headline Local Dem Club’s 30th Anniversary Bash

On Wednesday, August 6, America’s premiere political satirical songwriter, Roy Zimmerman, kicks off the San Diego leg of his Blue Dot tour with a gala concert performance at the 7 PM meeting of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club. Roy sings a compelling combination of socially conscious comedy and original music. His “funny songs about peace and justice” will highlight the 30th Anniversary of the Club, one of the oldest and largest chartered Democratic Clubs in San Diego County. It all takes place at the La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Drive, just off of University Ave. in La Mesa.

The festivities kick off at 6:30 with our Social ½ hour, where you’ll have a chance to purchase a CD of Roy’s music and humor and meet community activists, office holders and local political candidates. Members supply snacks, desserts and beverages and we’ll have a special anniversary cake for this notable occasion. Roy asks a donation of $15 for his concert or whatever you can afford, and if you buy one of his CD’s, it’ll make his evening.