Change of Location for March Meeting – One Time Only

Our normal venue is going through environmental remediation work, so we’re moving our March 6 meeting to the La Mesa Adult Enrichment Center (known to many as the Senior Center), which is at the corner of La Mesa Blvd. and University Avenue. That’s a short hop from our usual location at the La Mesa Community Center, across the street from the Little League field at the base of the hill leading up to the Community Center.

The address for our March 6 meeting is 8450 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa, CA 91942.

There is ample parking in the large Little League lot, with a short walk across University Ave. to the Senior Center. Also, there are a few limited parking spaces right next to the Senior Center, for those needing disabled parking or a shorter walk.

Our meeting will begin at its usual time, with a 6:30 social period, general meeting starting right at 7 PM. We’ll still have snacks, beverages and desserts to share for all attendees.

Our guest speakers are Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, San Diego mayoral candidate Cory Briggs, developer Ginger Hitzke and moderator Scott Lewis, editor in chief of the Voice of San Diego. Our program will be a lively discussion about affordable housing, NIMBYs vs. YIMBYs, the prospect of building dense housing around transit and public transportation hubs, and of course the ramifications of meeting our adopted and mandated Climate Action Plan goals. Find out more.

See you Wednesday night, March 6th at the La Mesa Senior Center. And starting in April we’ll be back at our usual location.

Senior Moments or Alzheimer’s?

Linda K. Armacost, Ed.D, Secretary and Past President, La Mesa-Foothills Democratic Club

“I often hear people say that a person suffering from Alzheimer’s is not the person they knew. I wonder to myself – Who are they then?” – Bob DeMarco

I have “senior moments” where I can’t remember a name or a movie or what I was just talking about. I guess we all have memory glitches from time to time, but are the glitches just symptoms of an aging brain, or the harbingers of Alzheimer’s?

Among the many diseases and conditions we worry about as we age, including cancer, heart disease, arthritis and cataracts, Alzheimer’s is the most terrifying to me. To lose one’s mind and sense of self seems to me the worst thing that can happen. And, once stricken, there is no cure, just a slow insidious slide into oblivion. There is no vaccine to prevent the disease, and no meaningful medications yet.

Now, I admit to being a worrywart, a holdover from being a mother perhaps, and now I worry about my brain. If diagnosed, I believe I would choose death with dignity and skip the pain, expense, and trauma on my loved ones. I could create an advance directive – but what if I forget that I did it? What if my family disagrees? Am I over-reacting?

I am right to worry. “An Alzheimer’s epidemic is coming. Here’s how to prepare,” warns Maria Shiver, California’s former First Lady. “Every 65 seconds in the United States a new brain develops Alzheimer’s. Two-thirds of them belong to women, and no one know why that is. For a women over 60, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s at some point in her lifetime is twice as great as that of developing breast cancer. People of color are also at a greater risk for the disease.”

What can I do? When I forget a name or movie or whatever, my first instinct is to reach for my phone and Google, but I don’t. First reason is I still haven’t figured out my new Android phone (I hate it but that’s another story) and second, I want to try to remember on my own.

There are steps I can take to help fight against Alzheimer’s:

1. Keep learning – lots of reading, researching, and writing. I could do more, like learn a foreign language.

2. Daily exercise. I do pretty well: walking, gardening, house work. I could do more.

3. Cultivate relationships. I am so lucky to know many wonderful people though the Club.

4. Go to college. I got my Ed.D at 60. I guess that counts.

5. Have hobbies. Check. Reading, gardening, trying to figure out how to get rid of Agent Orange (ok, maybe not a hobby but I spend a lot of time on it).

6. Keep a healthy weight. Check.

7. Control your health numbers. If that means blood pressure and cholesterol, good. If it means the high cost of prescriptions and dental care, screwed.

Next worry: Can I inherit Alzheimer’s? Extensive research has linked the early-onset form of Alzheimer’s to genetics. Great! No relatives with early-onset! Then, I read Dr. John Growdon, MD from Harvard who writes, “When a family member has Alzheimer’s disease, people often wonder about their own chances of developing the disease. Family history is indeed a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.”

Growdon continues, “If you have a parent or sibling with Alzheimer’s, you’re more likely to develop the disease than someone who does not have a first-degree relative with this condition. Risk rises further if you have more than one first-degree relative with Alzheimer’s. But while heredity is a major factor in a small number of families, for most people, genetics seem to play only a minor role or none at all. As scientists continue to mine new research on genes associated with late-onset Alzheimer’s, though, our current understanding may shift.”

My Dad was diagnosed with senile dementia at 93. There is a razor’s edge difference between senile dementia and Alzheimer’s, and both are horrific. My mom died at 66 (a miracle really, she was sick her whole life and was not expected to live past 50) and had no mental disabilities. My future mental fitness may depend on a roll of the hereditary dice.

My worries are nothing compared to the Alzheimer’s epidemic we Californians are facing. “In California, we have more people living with Alzheimer’s than in any other state…. We talk a lot about preparing for the next huge earthquake, but Alzheimer’s is another ‘Big One’ facing California, and we just aren’t sufficiently prepared,” says Shriver. Governor Newsom has added some $3 million to support state research, and established a task force on Alzheimer’s prevention and preparedness. More preparation is needed says Shriver: “In California, the number of people with Alzheimer’s is projected to soar by nearly a third in just the next six years. California has the benefit of 10 Alzheimer’s Disease Centers, more than any other state…. And now, we also have a bold new governor who watched his father grapple with dementia is his final months”.

Federal Legislation that would provide universal healthcare is being rolled out by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.): “The Medicare for All Act of 2019 … would create a government-run single-payer health system even more generous than the current Medicare program. Her office hasn’t publicly released the details of the upcoming measure, but Democratic members told me it would cover long-term care and mental health services, two areas where Medicare coverage is sparse.”

MARCH MEETING: Affordable Housing in San Diego – NIMBYs vs. YIMBYs

Join us for our monthly meeting March 6, where we’ll tackle the issue of affordable housing in San Diego with three great speakers – San Diego Mayoral Candidate Cory Briggs, real estate developer Ginger Hitzke, and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales (D-80). The moderator is Scott Lewis, editor in chief of the Voice of San Diego.

UPDATE: We’re meeting at a special location, one time only, the La Mesa Adult Enrichment Center, known to many as the Senior Center, 8450 La Mesa Blvd, La Mesa, at the corner of La Mesa Blvd. and University Avenue. Scroll to the bottom of this post for more information about the venue and parking.

Briggs is a popular advocate of open government, environmental protection and women’s rights. His platform includes fighting Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s initiative to waive height restrictions and other regulations for housing developments near transit centers. The mayor frames these initiatives as helping the city meet Climate Action Plan goals by building dense housing near public transit – therefore reducing reliance on cars. But Briggs things it’s all just a favor for the Republican Mayor’s developer friends and supporters.

Journalist Michael Smolens writes: “Briggs said more transit needs to be planned and built before any residential-building binge. He added that he would support a general hotel-tax increase — which would be subject to a simple majority vote — to help finance transit and affordable housing. He also said developers should not be allowed to pay into a housing fund instead of including affordable units in their projects, an idea under consideration at City Hall.”

So where does this put conscientious developers that truly are building and planning units to provide access for first time home buyers to buy affordable housing? What about the fact that a majority of San Diegans cannot afford to purchase housing within acceptable commuting distance to their jobs? What about the many progressive politicians that are listing affordable housing, public transit and climate action goals near the top of their campaign promises? These questions and more will be discussed at our March 6 meeting.

Also joining our panel is Ginger Hitzke, President of Hitzke Development, a real estate development company specializing in in-fill, redevelopment, transit-oriented, mixed-use, eco-friendly affordable housing. Ginger has her own affordable housing story, and her past experiences have shaped her current opinions, as well as her career goals, philanthropy, interests and many accomplishments.

Hitzke is a first-generation real estate developer and has 23 years of experience in the field of affordable housing development. She has participated in the development of over 1,500 apartments and affordable homes totaling more than $430 million in real estate activity throughout California. After serving as Vice President of Development for Affirmed Housing Group, she formed Hitzke Development. She specializes in the development of affordable rental housing (including permanent supportive housing) on infill, transit-oriented sites.

Ginger is an active member of the communities that she serves, including Circulate San Diego (president-elect), San Diego Housing Federation, Leadership for Urban Renewal Network, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Marcos. She currently lives in Temecula, California with her husband, 20 year retired enlisted Navy veteran, Eric, their 24- and 14-year-old sons and their 7 cats and dogs.

Assemblywoman Gonzales is a late – and welcome! – addition to our lineup. She was elected in 2013, fighting for the state’s working and middle classes. She authored legislation helping 6.5 million Californians earn paid sick leave, making California the first state in the nation to guarantee earned sick days for every private sector worker regardless of employer size or sector. She’s fought for automatic voter registration, parents’ rights, grocery workers, immigrants, and more.

Our large and active Club represents the communities of San Carlos, Allied Gardens, Del Cerro, La Mesa, College Area, Santee, Mt. Helix, Casa de Oro and Spring Valley and other close by areas.

IMPORTANT: Note the new, one-time location for the March meeting: The La Mesa Adult Enrichment Center (known to many as the Senior Center), at the corner of La Mesa Blvd. and University Avenue. That’s a short hop from our usual location at the La Mesa Community Center, across the street from the Little League field at the base of the hill leading up to the Community Center.

The address for our March 6 meeting is 8450 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa, CA 91942.

There is ample parking in the large Little League lot, with a short walk across University Ave. to the Senior Center. Also, there are a few limited parking spaces right next to the Senior Center, for those needing disabled parking or a shorter walk.

Our meeting will begin at its usual time, with a 6:30 social period, general meeting starting 7 PM. We’ll still have snacks, beverages and desserts to share for all attendees.

The reason for the change is that the Community Center, where we usually meet, is doing environmental remediation.

We meet the first Wednesday of each month and beginning in April we’ll be back at the usual location, at the spacious La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr, just north of University Ave. in La Mesa. Our meetings start with our 6:30 PM social time (featuring salads, snacks, desserts and beverages supplied by the club and its members) and 7 PM meeting and program. Please join us as a guest or become a member, with our modest annual dues starting at $30.

Women are Closing One Gender Gap – and It’s Killing Them!

By Linda K. Armacost, Ed.D.

Secretary, La Mesa-Foothills Democratic Club

“Women are responding to stress in ways that are closing the longstanding gaps between men and women when it comes to self-harm, substance abuse and risk-taking behavior.” So says a recent edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Drug overdose deaths among American women have more than tripledsince 1999, according Melissa Healy writing in the LA Times.

The research shows a frightening increase in fatal drug overdoses for women between 30 and 64, and there was a five-fold increase of drug deaths for women aged 55-64. A shocking 80% rise in suicides among women 45-64 since the turn of the century was also reported. The sharp increase in prescription opioids has contributed to the increases, however, heroin and benzodiazepines also rose sharply as did overdoses from cocaine and antidepressants. The average age of death from drug overdose is 46.5.

The CDC Report does not draw conclusions about the shocking increases in drug fatalities, only recommends healthcare providers pay attention to women around midlife.

I believe there are two major factors at work here: 1. the ubiquity of powerful drugs that are over-prescribed. 2. Healthcare providers not recognizing the symptoms of the menopause phase, and a failure to treat those symptoms.

As women approach mid-life, societal pressures begin to increase. It is a time when women are working to improve their careers and social status, many women are still raising children, and some find themselves in the
sandwich” generation, where they are caring for aging parents and children. While societal attitudes towards ”older” women are improving, women are still trying to overcome aging with plastic surgery, liposuction, frenzied workouts, and special age-defying diets. This is also the age when the menopause process begins.

I describe menopause as puberty in reverse. Puberty floods the adolescent brain and body with powerful hormones. These hormones prepare bodies for adulthood. Puberty can cause erratic emotional behavior, changes in sleeping patterns, and accelerated growth.

The journey toward menopause begins in the late 30’s and early 40’s as our hormone levels begin to diminish. Erratic emotions, sleep problems, foggy thinking, and unwanted weight gain are often attributed to outside pressures by women. To deal with these new problems, many women seek medical assistance for depression and anxiety believing this will relieve their symptoms.

15 years ago, my dissertation was published (Menogogy: The Art and Science of becoming a Crone: Changing perspectives on women, aging, and Adult Education). Iexhorted healthcare providers and adult educators to recognize the menopause process and its importance. The dissertation included a section on the patriarchal takeover of religion, medicine, and education. I also argue that the end of the menopause process is a discrete phase of adult development. Human women are unique among primates because they can spend a third of their lives in a state of infertility. “In a recent review of primate species, researchers found that humans are the only primates that don’t die within a few years of “’fertility cessation.”

I also conducted a qualitative study of nine women (I called them WOWmen)) ranging in age from 45 to 66, who were in perimenopause, menopause, post menopause, and one had surgical menopause. Their stories reinforce why it is critical for healthcare providers to understand menopause. My son graduated from medical school in 1997, the first year menopause was added to the curriculum!

Menopause can be challenging and rewarding depending where you are on the journey. The study revealed some common themes; changes in their bodies were upsetting, weight gain and graying hair for example. Increased emotionality and changes in sexual desire, “When I started crying during dog food commercials, I knew something was happening”, “There was a time when offered a banana split, or sex with my lover….ice cream won”.

The ‘happiest’ women in the study was also the oldest, Barbara at 66 who said; “This is the best time of life”. Which makes the increase in suicides for women 50-60 all the more tragic.

I don’t think that increased awareness of menopause by healthcare providers will prevent drug overdoses, there is no simplistic solution. It is up to women to understand what is going on in their bodies, there are literally hundreds of books about menopause out there. Do not fear menopause, embrace it! I close with a quote from Ursula LeGuin:

“The woman…must become pregnant with herself at last. She must bear herself, her third self, her old age with travail and alone. Not many will help her with that birth. It may well be easier to die if you have already given birth to others or yourself, at least once before. This would be an argument for going through all the discomfort and embarrassment of becoming a Crone. Anyhow it seems a pity to have a built-in rite of passage and to dodge it, evade it, and pretend nothing has changed. That is to dodge and evade one’s womanhood, to pretend one’s like a man. Men, once initiated, never get the second chance. They never change again. That’s their loss, not ours. Why borrow poverty”?

Being a Manly Man Can Hurt You: New Thinking about the Effects of Patriarchy

By Linda K. Armacost, Ed.D

Women have suffered under the hegemony of patriarchy for centuries. For my dissertation, I wrote about the patriarchal takeover of religion, medicine, and education. Turns out patriarchy is not only bad for women, it harms men as well.

For decades, the traditional masculine stereotype of say, John Wayne, was thought to guarantee men happiness and respect. In fact, being a manly man may lead to depression and loneliness. The American Psychological Association (APA) for the first time ever, released guidelines to help psychologists work with men and boys. For decades, The APA has focused exclusively on white men and some questioned the necessity for new guidelines. The APA, new guidelines were developed over 13 years and used four decades of work.

Ronald Levant, who was the APA President when the guidelines were initially conceived, and who has worked on them ever since said: “We found incredible evidence that the extent to which men strongly endorse those [masculine] beliefs, it’s strongly associated with negative outcomes.” Men who rely on stoicism and self-reliance have limited tools for coping, which can lead to self-destructive and violence. It almost makes me feel bad — almost.

Make no mistake, men still dominate professionally and politically: “As of 2018, 95. 2 percent of chief operating officers at Fortune 500 companies were men…. 80 percent of all high-ranking executives were male … the 115th Congress (2017) were 81 percent male.”

But the news isn’t all rosy for men; “Men commit 90 percent of homicides….and represent 77 percent of the homicide victims” [APA E Corner, Stephanie Pappas, January 2019, Vol. 50 no.1 p.34]. Suicide rates for men are higher than women and their life expectancy is nearly five years shorter than women. Boys are diagnosed with ADD more than girls and face more punishment, especially boys of color.

The new guidelines represent a paradigm shift in the APA’s treatment of men and boys. Of course, some traditionalists will rebel and fall back on the real reason men are hurting … women. Some men think a better solution would be to ‘fix’ women and stop them from taking their jobs and complaining about sexual advances!

To be clear, I really like most men and think they are wonderful. I do also agree with Margaret Atwood’s observation; “Men are afraid women will laugh at them, women are afraid men will kill them.”

Further reading: The men who hold onto notions of ‘traditional masculinity’ suffer the most

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Next Meeting 2/6 With Local Radio Personality Ted Leitner

Ted will join us Wednesday evening Feb. 6; the longtime sports personality and talk radio host will talk sports, politics and more in a freestyle evening. Join us 6:30 pm for socializing and 7 pm for programming at the La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Drive, La Mesa, CA.

Leitner has been the voice of the San Diego Padres for 39 years, as well as the voice of SDSU Aztec football and basketball. He’s also called games for the Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Clippers and many other teams.

He was nightly sports anchor for KFMB-TV, and also hosted a non-sports radio talk show where he opined freely on politics and butted heads with a conservative program director and fellow talk show host Mark Larson.

Leitner peppers his stream-of-consciousness broadcast style with anecdotes about Ray Charles, Mickey Mantle and Jerry Lewis.

Read more about Ted in this 2017 profile in the San Diego Union-Tribune — and come see him in person Feb. 6!

The Kids Are NOT All Right

By Linda K. Armacost, Ed.D

Secretary, La Mesa-Foothills Democratic Club Board

Before his fall from grace, Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards spoke of two Americas, one rich and one poor. America’s economic inequality has gone from a gap to a chasm in the intervening years. To understand the consequences of income inequality, we can look at public education.

If I told you about a school district where 40% of the junior high students receive free lunch, can’t afford textbooks, and has passed only two school bond measures since 1989, you might think I was talking about an inner-city school district with people of color and English as a second language. Nope, the school I am referring to is 90% white and in rural America. What happens to the kids in poor, rural communities should trouble us all.

My brother-in-law, Terry, made a surprise visit last weekend and what he told us was absolutely frightening. Terry is a seventh grade teacher in a small Ohio town south of Cincinnati along the Ohio River. Terry left a job in industry, went to college and earned his BA and a Master’s in Education.  Terry loves teaching and his students have consistently scored above state norms. After teaching for 15 years, Terry said, “I don’t think I can do this anymore. It has become nearly impossible to be an effective teacher today.” He went on to explain that his students don’t care about learning and their parents and guardians don’t either. Teacher/parent conference slots used to be filled, but last year only three slots were taken out of 55 students. Terry may retire early from the profession he loves.

What happened? Long-term poverty. When the manufacturing plants left town, the ripple effect of those job losses spread throughout the county. Small towns long the Ohio River, once dotted with nightclubs, restaurants, and boat rentals, have vanished. Jobs are scarce and wages are low. 40% of Terry’s students receive free lunches because they are at or below the poverty level. May students live with a grandparent or another relative because mom and/or dad are in jail, or are victims of the rampant opioid crisis. Some parents have simply left town.

Poor people don’t have good schools because most educational districts depend on property taxes for funding. Terry’s town has only passed two schools bond since 1989. Terry is the ONLY teacher who still uses textbooks — which he buys! Teachers use YouTube instead of textbooks. Terry’s room is the ONLY room with maps! Kids come to his class having never seen or read a map, “You cannot teach Social Studies without a map!” he says.

Terry’s decision is heartbreaking for so many reasons. He is a natural, gifted and creative teacher. When he taught science, his students made hovercrafts out of wooden discs (I rode one). As a Social Studies teacher, his students created costumes fitting the time and countries they were studying, such as the Roman Empire. Terry and his wife, Betty, have a property filled with ancient artifacts and students are invited to their home to explore the creek bed for samples of ancient ferns and small fish. To lose someone like Terry is not only a shame, it is shameful and if the President and Secretary of Education’s 2019 Education Budget passes things will only get worse:

Today, President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released their proposed budget for the 2019 fiscal year. The Trump administration’s budget proposal for this year makes strikingly similar drastic cuts to the administration’s fiscal year 2018 proposal, which represented the most devastating funding cuts to the U.S. Department of Education since Ronald Reagan’s presidency. On the heels of that widely criticized proposal, the Trump administration has doubled down this year with a $7.1 billion cut to the Department of Education’s funding—a 10.5 percent decrease from 2017 levels. And while an unusual addendum—released on the same day as the original proposal—seems to restore $3.3 billion to the education budget, Trump and DeVos have made their priorities clear: Starve public schools to fund private school schemes that benefit the wealthy.

There may be hope on the horizon now that Democrats are in control of the House of Representatives, however, WE citizens must fight for education. When I ran for the school board eons ago, my slogan was “an investment in education today will pay huge dividends in the future.” Another favorite slogan is “if you think education is costly, try ignorance!”

For more check out this link (thanks to Gene Carpentier).

Make Your Voice Heard in the California State Democratic Party

Local delegates are important voices in shaping the direction fo the California Democratic Party. Delegates are elected from each assembly district in the state every two years. The next round of election meetings is coming in January. Here’s what you need to know if you’re interested in voting in delegate selection.

The meetings where delegates are selected are called Assembly District Election Meetings or ADEMs. Each Assembly District elects 14 people to represent them as delegates to the California Democratic Party’s annual convention. These delegates are also known as members of the Democratic State Central Committee. They vote on Party endorsements, resolutions, internal leadership elections and other matters. Many participate in CDP committees and caucuses.

ADEMs will be held throughout the state on two upcoming weekends:

Sat.-Sun., Jan. 12–13

Sat.-Sun, Jan. 26–27, 2019. Details for San Diego districts are below.

At each meeting, seven “self-identified female” and seven “other than self-identified female” delegates will be elected. Voters will also elect one person from that group of 14 to represent that district as a member of the CDP Executive Board, who is expected to attend additional meetings around the state each year to vote on State Party business.

The regular spring convention will be May 31-June 2 in San Francisco, with a second convention likely in November due to the early primary election in March 2020..

Who can run?

The deadline to register was Dec. 27. Anyone who is a registered Democrat residing in the Assembly District they are running for on or before October 22, 2018, can run to be a delegate through their ADEM. Look up your Assembly District here, with your registered voting address:

You can get more information, including a list of who’s running, here:

Who can participate in the meetings?

Anybody can attend the ADEM and vote if they are Democrats residing in that ADEM’s Assembly District, and registered to vote there, as of the data of the meeting. Same-day voter registration is allowed for otherwise qualified citizens.

At each meeting, candidates may give one-minute speeches 30 minutes prior to registration. After registration opens, participants will vote by secret ballot and can then leave at any time. Registration will close two hours after opening, and then votes will be tallied and results announced.

When and where are the meetings?

AD 71
When: Saturday, January 12 from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Where: El Cajon Public Library, 201 East Douglas Avenue, El Cajon, CA 92020
Convener: Bonnie Price (619) 741–6811

AD 77
When: Sunday, January 27 from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Where: IBEW, 7444 Trade Street, San Diego, CA 92121
Convener: Cody Petterson (858) 922–7593

AD 78
When: Sunday, January 13 from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Where: Musicians Association of San Diego County, 1717 Morena Blvd., San Diego, CA 92110
Convener: Rafael Perez (619) 301–5111

AD 79
When: Saturday, January 26 from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Where: Johnson Elementary School, 1355 Kelton Road, San Diego, CA 92114
Convener: Judy Ki (858) 486–8336**

At our May Meeting: Dunkin’ Hunter: Replacing a Corrupt Congressman

Join us at our May 2 meeting, where we’ll talk about beating Duncan Hunter Jr., San Diego’s embattled 50th Congressional District representative, who comes with a host of ethical and financial irregularities. Hunter is up for re-election this year, and the club is backing a strong Democratic contender – La Mesa native Ammar Campa-Najjar, who’s one of our speakers at the meeting.

Our other speaker is Jon “Bowzer” Bauman, a Democratic Party activist who became famous in the 1960s and 70s as led singer for the oldies group Sha Na Na.

Hunter’s troubles started in 2016 when the Federal Election Commission (FEC) began examining his use of campaign funds for personal expenses such as video games, flying a rabbit on a plane, tuition, family vacations and much more.

Although Hunter has reviewed his campaign spending and reimbursed his treasury more than $60,000 in expenses he identified as “personal, mistaken or undocumented,” he is currently under a Department of Justice criminal investigation for alleged campaign finance violations.

Ammar Campa-Najjar

Campa-Najjar left La Mesa as a boy, along with his family, for the Gaza Strip in 1998. When war made it unsafe to stay, he returned with his mother and brother to San Diego. After graduating from San Diego State University with dual bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and psychology, Campa-Najjar joined President Obama’s reelection campaign as Deputy Regional Field Director, overseeing Southern California’s grassroots operations from a headquarters in San Diego. During the Obama Administration he served in the Labor Department’s Office of Public Affairs for the Employment and Training Administration.He is a staunch advocate for unions and small businesses owned by minorities, women, immigrants and veterans. Citing bipartisan support for the Registered Apprenticeship job training initiative, Campa-Najjar has called on the Trump administration to expand and strengthen the program. His platform also includes Medicare for All, passing a clean Dream Act, investing in renewable energy, and overturning Citizens United.

Find more information about Campa-Najjar’s campaign can be found at

bauman pic2-2
Jon “Bowzer”Bauman

Bauman, our other speaker, is the uncle of Eric Bauman, the chairman of the California Democratic Party.

Born in Brooklyn, Bauman started attending The Juilliard School at age 12 and graduated magna cum laude from Columbia College in New York.

In 1969, he partnered with several Columbia classmates to create Sha Na Na. They sang at Woodstock, and later starred on a syndicated television variety series with the same name. Bauman’s character, “Bowzer,” was a blustery, dimwitted skinny-armed greaser in a muscle shirt.

In real life, Bauman is no dope; he campaigns regularly for Democrats in special elections and endorsed Barack Obama for President in 2008. He has also worked as a spokesman for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and recorded wake-up calls for employees of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Bauman is co-founder of the group Senior Votes Count, a political action committee designed to elect leaders to protect and advance the rights of older Americans.

In the 2016 presidential election, Bauman endorsed Hillary Clinton and campaigned across the country.

He is currently President of Social Security Works PAC, a national organization working to elect candidates who support protecting and expanding Social Security benefits. Bauman lives in Los Angeles with his wife Mary.

Find out about Bauman’s performing career at Bowzer’s Rock N’ Roll Party.

Join us Wednesday, May 2 at 6:30 pm for social time, 7 pm for programming, at the La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Drive in La Mesa.

Update: Two new additions to the panel! Michael Smolens, political columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune, and Matt Strabone, attorney specializing in dark money and misuse of campaign funds, as well as Democratic candidate for county clerk/assessor/recorder. More here: Our upcoming “Dunkin’ Hunter” panel just got better!