Little Notes: JOEL ANDERSON, candidate for the 77th Assembly District
San Diego News Notes (2005-12-01)
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JOEL ANDERSON, candidate for the 77th Assembly District, was one of East County's biggest campaigners for Proposition 73. A parishioner at St. Kieran's, Anderson credits his pastor, Bishop Cordileone, for mobilizing support in El Cajon and beyond. "There was a statement read at every Mass I attended for the last several weeks before the election urging voter support," Anderson said. "I was so pleased that the bishop was so supportive."
Jay La Seur
, whose daughter's best friend, Debbie Beyer, is running against Anderson in the Republican primary, will be vacating the 77th Assembly seat due to term limits. Beyer's supporters, notably ex-gay Christian activist James Hartline, have attempted to question Anderson's conservative credentials, going so far as to foster a Catholics vs. Evangelicals aspect to the race. (Beyer is an Evangelical Christian.) Anderson refuses to criticize his opponent, preferring to run on his own record.
After losing a bid for 75th Assembly District seat in 1998, Anderson dusted himself off and worked to elect Dennis Hollingsworth
to the State Senate in 2002. "I also served as chairman for Kill the Car Tax and later I was the coalition chair to re-elect President Bush.
I've been busy working for tax groups and pro-life organizations this whole time."
The criticism that annoys Anderson the most is that he is not conservative enough. But he says he shrugs it off as a ploy by those who don't understand the realities of governing. "I've been accused of supporting needle exchanges and being pro-homosexual. Neither charge is remotely close to the truth. There was a City Council race in San Diego between Phil Thalhaimer and Scott Peters and I supported Phil as did a lot of good people including Rick Otis, who is a hardcore Catholic and a solid citizen. Well, Phil decided to walk in the gay (Pride) parade. Now Scott Peters is on board with the whole gay agenda. When I said I supported Phil, we never discussed that issue and I didn't know he was going to walk in that parade. I supported him because the city is in financial upheaval and Phil is good with financial issues. Both candidates had the same views on social issues. That doesn't mean I support the gay agenda, but I'm not going to turn around and say I'm only going to support people who are 100 percent like me. In some instances, you have to support the best candidate and my critics have chosen to make this a big issue. Phil was also the guy who took on the fight to save the cross at Mt. Soledad, so on one hand, people may have a problem with him walking in the Gay Pride Parade, but those same people are giving him accolades for the cross. My positions have not changed and it does a huge disservice when people take one item and make broad extrapolations from that one item. That's like saying, 'Well, you buy Nabisco and you stay at the Marriott, so you must be a Mormon!' If you used the 100 percent criteria, then I couldn't support President Bush because he hasn't fully understood our border issues."
Anderson believes such guilt by association tactics are common from candidates who know how to attack, but have never had to build a coalition. "People are complex. There is a lot of gray, and it is not all as easy as it seems. Some people are so focused on one thing that they think that if they get elected, go to Sacramento, and fall on their sword that they have done their job. I've never gotten personal with anyone or done anything that would hurt my relationship with anyone, so that later on, my opponents could feel comfortable agreeing with me if it was the right thing. It's not about them, but about doing a good job."
As conservative Republicans, Anderson and Beyer both have to deal with the candidacy of "moderate" Republican Jack Dale, a Santee City Council member in a race that threatens to split the conservative vote. "Jack is a fairly liberal guy. He's liberal fiscally and he's liberal socially. The social conservatives want to focus on the race between Debbie and me, and everyone else is looking at the race between Jack and me. Her (Beyer's) likelihood of winning is slim to none, but her likelihood of causing enough division among conservatives to let a liberal win this is what's really at stake."
Since the 77th Assembly District is overwhelmingly conservative, Anderson thinks the right assembly member could make the difference in getting more conservatives elected to other state offices, "if the assembly member takes an interest in more local races," Anderson explains. "It's not just about going to Sacramento to be a good vote, it's about leadership in the community.
"One of my goals is to work with all of the local boards to make sure that the good people are there. I'm currently the president of the Padre Dam Municipal Water Board, and before I was on the board, they were proposing $78 million in additional debt. Since I joined the board, we've eliminated a lot of it. An office building was going to be built for $15 million and we ended up building it for $6.8 million. If that $78 million of debt had been taxed, it would have been about $50,000 on each house."
"When I joined the water board, if there was a rate increase, they would do the minimum that the law required, which was posting the increase on the front door of the building. No one is going to drive by the water board and look for increases. So one time I sent postcards at my own expense to every registered voter in the district telling them to show up at this meeting. They pulled a school board tactic and had 80 employees show up to fill the room so the public could not get in. And every time I would speak, they would start shouting. The reason for all of this is that I wanted transparency in government. This happened twice and the third time, the board decided to inform the public with cards inserted with the bills one month before the meeting. Now every ratepayer is notified through the district. I was able to change that policy, and it wasn't easy. Everybody hated me, and all the quotes were about how I was an evil person. But I went from being on the board minority to being in the board majority and now I'm the president after only three years. It would have been helpful if the local legislators had been working to fill these boards with responsible people."