Is The Situation In San Diego Salvageable For Progressives? A Guest Post By John Brooks
When dedicated southern California progressive icon, Bob Filner, decided not to seek reelection to Congress and try for the San Diego mayor's job instead, Sacramento Democrats, eager to get hideously conservative and corrupt Insurance Industry shill Sen. Juan Vargas out of their hair, largely backed Vargas' bid for the House seat. They don't seem to care that they would be responsible for sending one of the worst possible Democrats in California politics to take part in an important legislative process. As Filner himself pointed out a few years ago:
"While Juan has not yet been convicted of a crime, virtually everyone closest to him has been found guilty of something. Juan's former Chief-of Staff and handpicked successor on the San Diego City Council is now a convicted felon. Another of Juan's political cronies made millions off the poorest people in National City as a slumlord and recently, Juan's chief campaign consultant was convicted of a felony for misusing public money... If Juan truly didn't have any knowledge of the crimes his close associates have committed then he may well be the most clueless man in America."
We asked John Brooks, who is offering a real alternative to the sleazy corporate pay-for-play politics Vargas represents, to tell us more about himself and why he's decided on this almost quixotic endeavor. Please take a look and consider if you'd like to help John beat back the cynicism and corruption of the corrupt Democratic Party machine in a district where whomever gets elected is likely to have a job for life.
Why I am running for Congress
-by John Brooks
Public and community service is a tradition in my family. My father was a Korean War Veteran and when he returned home he became an Oakland Police Officer. I come from a family of Veterans and Union Workers. I was taught from an early age to take pride in community service. My grandfather was a card carrying NAACP member from the early 1950s and worked as a Union Welder. I was raised to serve and support the community, which is why I am running for office now.
I have always served my country proudly. I spent 30 years in the United States Department of the Interior, retiring as a Special Agent. I worked both nationally and internationally to protect wildlife from trafficking and extinction. After 9/11, I volunteered to serve as an Air Marshall so that I could do my part and help people feel safe flying again.
In Congressional District 51, chronic unemployment runs rampant while our children are being denied the basic education needed to be successful. While career politicians are busy arguing over their own personal interests, we are ignored.
I grew up in Oakland during the '60s and '70s and I can tell you right now I had more opportunity back then, with all that was going on, than children have today in this District.
A majority of students in the 51st District are underserved Latino and low income students who face big disparities in school and future outcomes. San Diego and Imperial Counties have some of the lowest test scores and biggest achievement gaps in California; which means we are failing a majority of our students. This isn’t a “teacher” or a “being poor” problem, this is a leadership problem.
My opponents are the same Elected Officials who have been representing the 51st Congressional District in one seat or another for the last 15 years. Maybe their experience is the problem.
I am not running for Congress to play “politics.” I am running to give the people of the 51st District responsive representation and the opportunities they deserve.
Improving the economy and creating jobs starts with fixing Education and making it priority number one from day one. NCLB must be ended. Teachers must be given the proper pay, support and in-career training to further their craft of teaching our children. This will help us attract the best teachers and retain them. Schools should be transformed into community centers. Year after year voters have approved bond measures that fix, maintain, and build new schools and yet most of the community has never stepped foot in these buildings. Schools need to be open all day and night offering classes to adults and senior citizens.
Education is the focus of my campaign. California’s education system is in trouble and 51st Congressional District is in crisis. The achievement gap is crippling the futures of South San Diego and Imperial County. A majority of students in the 51st District fall into achievement gap groups such as Latino and Low Income. San Diego and Imperial Counties have some of the worst achievement gap test scores in California; which means we are failing a majority of our students.
One of the major indicators in achievement gap groups is that the parents have not gone to college and large percentages have not finished High School. Involving parents and creating opportunities for career training and adult education in the schools at night gives the children a model of participation and importance that they begin to emulate. Bring in the idea that while the adults are in class that children can take elective courses such as art and music, or further support classes; it begins to close the gap. Also add in transitional education and senior classes for the elderly you have engaged the entire community.
These schools have phenomenal resources built in to be community service centers where we can also create programs like preventive health care clinics, nutritional education and exercise classes. These programs have the added benefit of also putting teachers back to work.
Another area of major importance will be to institute Financial and Civic literacy programs for children and adults. Poverty is cyclical for a reason. An engaged and educated community is an empowered community that votes more often and engages in local and national discussions.