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By Miriam Raftery

April 15, 2017 (El Cajon) – With Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) under criminal investigation by the Justice Dept., seven Democrats vying for his seat will be speaking out in a town hall forum hosted by the East County Democratic Club. The event will be held this Thursday, April 20 at 1150 East Broadway (the Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors building) in El Cajon.

Candidates include several veterans and several individuals with medical backgrounds. The diverse field includes a rancher, a nurse, a realtor, a former U.S. Labor Department official, an ex-Navy seal, two former military medics, an organic farmer/environmental consultant, a school board member, an economist, and a rural planning group member.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m.  A social hour and potluck will be held from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.   The program will begin at 7 p.m. and end by 9 p.m.

There are only 175 seats. RSVPs are requested and may be sent to Bonnie Price, BJBPrice@hotmail.com or (619) 741-6811.

Each candidate will provide an opening statement, followed by questions from club leaders and then written questions from the audience.  The candidates are:

Pierre “Pete” Beauregard:  A Ramona rancher, ex-Navy medic, founder of a community medical clinic and former rodeo bull-rider, he also became active in the Occupy movement after the housing market collapse to seek reforms to protect homeowners from predatory lenders.

Josh Butner:  A retired Navy Lieutenant Commander and Gulf War veteran, Butner is currently an elected member of the Jamul-Dulzura School Board. His military experience including service as a Navy Seal, Seal instructor, and medical corpsman. He also runs the military division of Aqua Lung, an underwater dive company that traces its origins to Jacques Cousteau.

Ammar Campa-Najjar served as public affairs officer for the U.S. Department of Labor in the Obama administration.  A native of Sand Diego of Hispanic and Arab descent, he has also served as director of communications and marketing for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, was a White House intern, and worked with nonprofits and his church on issues ranging from helping deported veterans to supporting working people.

Gloria Chadwick:  An elected member of the Grossmont Healthcare District board of directors overseeing Grossmont Hospital, she is a retired registered nurse who worked for many years at the Veterans Administration hospital in San Diego. She is also a talented and internationally acclaimed wildlife artist who speaks on conservation issues.

Hannah Gbeh:  An elected member of the Jamul-Dulzura Community Planning Group, she is also an environmental teacher, consultant and researcher, as well as an organic farmer who serves on the board of the County Farm Bureau. She has worked as a consultant for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and as program assistant for the Oglala Sioux tribal government. She also founded a nonprofit that provides food, shelter, clothing and healthcare to the poor and disadvantaged.

Glenn Jensen: Born and raised in La Mesa, Jensen graduated from Helix High, received his economics degree from UCSD.  He says he has a history of political activism fighting for causes including free public education, the environmental, equality and women’s rights. He has also been a lobbyist for consumer access on telecommunications issues and supports net neutrality.  He is currently employed by a major computer corporation, specializing in datacenter consolidation with the Department of Defense.

Patrick Malloy:  A realtor who says he knows the neighborhoods, schools and roads in the 50th Congressional District, Malloy previously ran against Hunter in the 2016 race.  He says he’s running to repair a “do nothing” Congress and rid the district of corruption.

The U.S. Justice Department’s investigation of Rep. Hunter is determining whether his spending of over $60,000 in campaign funds for personal reasons constitutes criminal violations of the law.  Two prior investigations into similar conduct by members of Congress resulted in convictions and prison time; a third member is facing criminal charges and a grand jury has been convened in a fourth such case.

The candidate town hall is free, though donations to cover the event costs are welcome.