Polls, Pundits and Predictions Kick-Off 2018

Roundtable event to kick off 2018

Mission Times Courier Posted: December 15th, 2017 | Columns, Featured, La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club | No Comments

La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club will start the 2018 election year with a stellar roundtable featuring some of San Diego’s best known pundits and politicians.

The Wednesday, Jan. 3 panel will examine some of our area’s most pressing problems; preview the June and November elections; and opine on the impact of our continuing national nightmare, as well as local initiatives that will dominate the news in the early part of 2018.

Our forum participants are San Diego City Councilmember Chris Ward, La Mesa City Councilmember Colin Parent, KPBS news director Mark Sauer, political analyst Laura Fink and campaign consultant Eva Posner.

A returning and popular panelist, Fink has participated in club forums on women’s issues, media influence and election processes. She shares her political opinions as a regular analyst on Fox News5 in San Diego, so we have every confidence she’ll be one of our most trusted prognosticators.




Posner is a first-time panelist with LMFDC, and will offer a unique look at the local election scene. As owner of her own political consulting firm, she is indelibly connected to the local Democratic political apparatus. She even spent the 2016 election cycle as the communications coordinator of the San Diego County Democratic Party.



In city of San Diego politics, it’s hard to read a story on affordable housing, homelessness, infrastructure, LGBT issues, environmental policy and short-term housing rentals without seeing Ward’s influence and initiative.

Since these issues are ongoing and relevant, it will be fascinating to hear the council member’s take on the direction of the city in tackling these issues which affect our entire region.

In city of San Diego politics, it’s hard to read a story on affordable housing, homelessness, infrastructure, LGBT issues, environmental policy and short-term housing rentals without seeing Ward’s influence and initiative.

Since these issues are ongoing and relevant, it will be fascinating to hear the council member’s take on the direction of the city in tackling these issues which affect our entire region.

Ward represents San Diego City Council District 3, which includes the Downtown and Uptown areas. He serves as chair of the Select Council Committee on Homelessness, vice chair of the Infrastructure Committee, and as a member of the Environment, Rules, and Public Safety & Livable Neighborhoods Committees, as well as vice chair of the San Diego County Regional Task Force on the Homeless.

Many of Ward’s progressive bonafides can also apply to Parent, our former board member, who now pushes the La Mesa council in directions they’ve never gone before. SANDAG, affordable housing, rental policy, smart growth, homelessness, the Climate Action Plan and transit issues are all at the top of Parent’s council priorities.

Parent was elected to La Mesa City Council in November 2016 and works as executive director and policy counsel at the nonprofit Circulate San Diego. He is responsible for advocating for affordable transit, safe and walkable neighborhoods, and effective land-use policy.



Sauer will be returning as a panelist to our club, and is familiar as the regular moderator of the popular weekly news show, “KPBS Round Table.” From border walls, real estate values, jail deaths and homeless tents, to sexual harassment and sea-level rise, “Round Table” has covered them all. If there is a local issue of import, Sauer will offer an expert opinion if a solution to that problem is happening in 2018.

Lewis will moderate this phenomenal panel.  Lewis is the editor and CEO of Voice of San Diego, which made a name for itself by producing hard-hitting investigative reports along with civic engagement opportunities that give residents a platform to discuss and debate issues that impact our quality of life.



LMFDC draws members from San Carlos, Allied Gardens, Del Cerro, La Mesa, the College Area, Santee, Mt. Helix, Casa de Oro and other nearby communities. Meetings are held the first Wednesday of every month at La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Drive, starting at 6:30 p.m.

For more information, visit lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com and like us on Facebook.




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 www.lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com 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 www.lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com and like us on Facebook.

Linda Armacost, President

La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club

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 lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com, or like us on our Facebook page.