Ben Kalasho

CLOSE COUNCIL RACE IN EL CAJON; VOTERS APPROVE REDISTRICTING

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 9, 2016  (El Cajon) – With 43.6% of precincts counted,  a 10-candidate race for El Cajon City Council is still too close to call. There are three seats up—and currently, two challengers have edged ahead of incumbent Star Bales.

However voters handily approved Measure S, the redistricting proposal to establish district elections.  Measure S  has nearly 69% of the vote with 43.6% of precincts counted.

HEAR OUR INTERVIEW: BEN KALASHO SPEAKS OUT ON CHALDEANS' CONCERNS IN THE ELECTION

 

 

March 16, 2016 (San Diego's East County) -- Ben Kalasho, president of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, sat down with the East County Magazine Radio Show on KNSJ 89.1 FM to discuss concerns of the Chaldean community in the presidential primary election. In our interview, which originally aired on KNSJ last week, Kalasho speaks about the issues that matter most to the Iraqi Chaldean and Middle Eastern communities from an international and domestic standpoint.

He also discussed the new Mega TV news network that he helped launch, which debuted earlier this month. In addition, he shared his thoughts on the Grossmot Union High School District's redistricting proposal that divides the Chaldean voting block--and what steps he thinks should be done at the state level to assure fairness in elections for Chaldean Americans.

To hear our interview, click the link above.

Audio: 

HEAR OUR RADIO INTERVIEWS: OPPONENTS OF GUHSD REDISTRICTING PLANS SPEAK OUT

 

East County News Service

March 16, 2016 (San Diego's East County) --  The Grossmont Union High School District Board majority's proposed redistricting plan is among the most controversial actions taken by a board long mired in contention over a variety of issues -- many of which stand to be influenced by the outcome of redistricting.  East County Magazine's radio show on KNSJ sat down with several individuals who have voiced strong opposition to the plan approved by the board and now awaiting action by the County Department of Education's Committee on School District Organization.

Click the link above this story to listen online now to a podcast of  our interviews and comments from trustee Priscilla Schreiber, Diego Valley Charter Net principal Craig Beswick, former Citizens Bond Oversight Committee member Nick Marinovich, and Chaldean Chamber President Ben Kalasho on this important issue (originally aired on KNSJ 89.1 FM radio).

The County's committee plans five upcoming hearings to get public comment on the proposed redistricting plan, as well as the GUHSD's request to waive a public vote. The five hearings are set for March 17 in La Mesa, March 28 in El Cajon,  April 4 in Alpine,  April 5 in Jamul, and April 11 in Lakeside.  The public can testify at the meetings and also submit written comments up until April 7. 

Audio: 

BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO: GROSSMONT VOTES FOR TRUSTEE DISTRICTS, BYPASSING PUBLIC VOTE

 

By Miriam Raftery

Controversial plan outrages Alpine voters, Chaldeans and other district residents

Photo: Priscilla Schreiber will be forced off the board in November if the county approves the GUHSD's redistricting proposal.

February 25, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – Grossmont Union High School District voted 4-1 to ditch district-wide elections and break up the district into five areas that will each elect its own trustee. (View map)  The board also voted to ask the San Diego County Committee on School Board Reorganization to waive a requirement that would ordinarily allow the public to vote on redistricting.

CHALDEAN CHAMBER PRESIDENT THREATENS LAWSUIT IF “GERRYMANDERING” SPLITS CHALDEAN VOTERS IN GUHSD

 

 

District board expected to vote on redistricting plan today at 4 p.m.

"...Our Chamber will not accept any gerrymandering or divisive planning for political purposes and would be readily committed to engage either legally or politically to ensure a fair and equitable approach for the betterment of our community.” -- Ben Kalasho, Chaldean American Chamber president

By Miriam Raftery

February 25, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – Ben Kalasho, president of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce in East County, has issued a press release calling on the Grossmont Union-High School District board to be “transparent and pragmatic” in its decision on how to transition from at-large to district elections. A vote on which map to approve is expected at today’s GUHSD board meeting at 4 p.m. at the East County Regional Education Center, 924 East Main St. in El Cajon.

LEGISLATIVE CANDIDATES BRIAN JONES AND RANDY VOEPEL SPEAK OUT AT 2ND CHALDEAN CHAMBER'S "MEET YOUR CANDIDATE" EVENT

 

By Janis Russell

August 17, 2015 (La Mesa)- The San Diego East County Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce hosted its second Meet Your Candidates event at Sammy’s Woodfire Pizza in La Mesa on August 5. The speakers were Assemblyman Brian Jones, who is running for Senator Joel Anderson’s seat, and 71st state Assembly district candidate Randy Voepel, who has been Mayor  and served on Santee’s city council since 2000. Voepel is running against Mike Harrison, who currently serves on Duncan D. Hunter, and Tony Teora, an engineer. (Harrison spoke at a prior Chamber event and Teora is invited for the future.)

EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE WINS 3 AWARDS FROM SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISTS

 

 

East County News Service

July 31, 2015 (San Diego) – East County Magazine picked up three more awards from the Society for Professional Journalists San Diego pro chapter last night during the annual awards banquet at the Bali Hai restaurant.   Two of the awards honor coverage on our East County Magazine Show on KNSJ Radio while the third is for an investigative report at our online news site (www.EastCountyMagazine.org), bringing our total awards to 83 since our founding in 2008.

Last night’s honors, all second place awards presented to Miriam Raftery (photo, left), include our radio interview series with local Chaldeans’ efforts to halt genocide in Iraq, a radio interview with a Kurdish woman about her family’s ordeal fleeing ISIS, and an online investigative report on a San Diego company’s failure to disclose negative impacts of a proposed energy project.

You can read and hear our award-winning entries here:

SOCIALITES FASHION EVENT REVS UP CROWD AT NEW MERCEDES BENZ DEALER IN EL CAJON

 

East County News Service

March 3, 2015 (El Cajon) - Over 200 guests turned out for the first annual Socialites Fashion Event hosted in partnership with the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce and  Mercedes Benz of El Cajon on February 27th.

ISIS SEIZES HUNDREDS OF CHRISTIANS IN SYRIA

 

Trials by ISIS underway as some captives reportedly freed; local Chaldean leaders speak out on crisis

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Open Doors

March 1,2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Fears mount for hundreds of Assyrian Christians taken captive by ISIS last week, amid reports that the self-proclaimed Islamic State militants are putting hostages on trial, though some reports indicate that a handful have been freed. 

The hostages include at least 262 men, women and children taken from villages in northeastern Syria, CNN reports.  Open Doors USA, an organization serving persecuted Christians worldwide, reports the captives include 72 families.

READER’S EDITORIAL: AN OPEN LETTER TO CHALDEANS, ASSYRIANS AND SYRIACS WORLWIDE

 

By Ben Kalasho, Founder and President, San Diego East County Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce

March 1, 2015 (El Cajon)--When news broke six days ago of more than 200 Assyrians kidnapped by (Da’ash) ISIS, I was on a telephone conference with my high profile contacts on the ground in Kurdish Controlled Areas of Northern Iraq discussing the destruction of Iraqi antiquities dating from the 9th Century BC by ISIS thugs. The report came to me that over 200 Assyrians were kidnapped in the town of Tal Tamr in the Hasaka Province, and other villages in Syria including Tal Hurmoz, Tal Shamiram, Tal Rumman, Tal Nasra which are home to many Assyrians and Syriacs.

CHALDEAN CHAMBER MARKS ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Chamber President Ben Kalasho with Lemon Grove Councilwoman Racquel Vasquez

December 11, 2014 (San Diego) --The East County Chaldean-American Chamber of Commerce celebrated its one-year anniversary in late November with a gala anniversary party at Barfly in La Jolla.

ISIS CAPTURES IRAQ'S LARGEST CHRISTIAN CITY: IRAQIS IN SAN DIEGO & MIDDLE EAST ISSUE WARNING FOR THE WORLD

 

"Your sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer in the near future…You are in danger." -- Exiled Iraqi Archbishop Amel Shimoun Nona

By Miriam Raftery

August 25, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Qaraqosh, the largest Christian city in Iraq (photo, left), has been overrun by Islamic State terrorists (formerly known as ISIS, the Islamic Sate of Iraq and Syria), CNN reports.

Sean Malone from Crisis Relief International (CRI) sent a heart-wrenching text message stating, “We lost the city of Queragosh (Qaraqosh). It fell to ISIS and they are beheading children systematically.”

KALASHO CALLS FOR NEW PROVINCE TO BE FORMED IN IRAQ AS SAFE HAVEN FOR PERSECUTED CHALDEANS AND OTHER MINORITIES

 

By Nadin Abbott, Reporting San Diego

Reporting San Diego sat down on August 22 in Santee with Ben Kalasho, a leader in the Chaldean community, to discuss genocide in Iraq. Excerpts below are reprinted with permission.

Aug. 24, 2014 (Santee)--“All those people who you see on the mountain side on Sinjar, sleeping on what seems to be the front of churches, those people were homeowners, they owned vehicles, they had jobs or owned businesses and are now homeless,” said Ben Kalasho, a leader in the Chaldean community and President of the East County Chaldean-American Chamber of Commerce.

According to Kalasho,600,000 people are internally displaced in Iraq. This is an almost incomprehensible number, but we cannot turn away from it.

Our leaders, starting with the President, have mentioned the Yazidis, who are an ancient people that precede Islam and Christianity in Iraq. But the plight of other minorities, including Christian Chaldeans, Siriacs and others has not drawn the same level of national media attention.

LOCAL CHALDEANS FIGHT TO REMOVE ISIS RECRUITMENT SITES FOR TERRORISTS

 

Pins pop up to show solidarity with people displaced by ISIS

By Miriam Raftery

August 23, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – After finding that the Islamic extremist group ISIS had an Instagram page for recruiting potential terrorists and next finding an ISIS Facebook page boasting of atrocities, Ben Kalasho of El Cajon set out to shut down ISIS online.

WORLDWIDE PROTEST AUGUST 2 OVER VIOLENCE AGAINST CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ & SYRIA

 

August 1, 2014 (El Cajon) – Tomorrow, nearly 12,000 people worldwide will be staging protests over the violence against Christians in Iraq and Syria.   In San Diego's East County, Ben and Jessica Kalasho have organized a local protest at 6 p.m. in Prescott Promenade Park  on Main Street in downtown El Cajon.

ISIS terrorsts have sprayed the red letter for "Nazarene" shown at left on Christian homes, where residents face a choice of converting to Islam or death.  Many have fled, seeking safe refuge.

A Facebook page for the local event lists 156 participants so far.  “Join us to stand in solidarity with our Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac brothers and sisters around the world to protest the violence against the Christians in Iraq and Syria,” Kalasho writes.  Guests can RSVP at the Facebook page here locally:  https://www.facebook.com/events/813180182039823/permalink/815478478476660/

In other cities visit  https://www.facebook.com/events/653888978028664/ or scroll down for a list of events listed as of now:

RALLY TO SAVE IRAQI CHRISTIANS: FRIDAY, JULY 18

 

 

July 18, 2014 (El Cajon) – East County is home to an estimated 40,000 Iraqi Chaldean Christians as well as many Assyrians and Syriacs. 

Local Iraqis including the Chaldean-American Chamber of Commerce, churches and other groups, ask the community to join them in a rally today, July 18 at El Cajon City Hall , 200 Civic Center Way, to urge protection and humanitarian help for those now fleeing Iraq, where a terrorist group has declared an Islamic caliph and is slaughtering Christians and other minorities.

A petition has also been launched calling on U.S. representatives to consider creating a safe haven for Assyrians and other minorities in the Nineveh Plains.

IRAQ VIDEO: BEFORE THE WAR

 

East County News Service

July 2, 2014 (San Diego's East County) -- Ben Kalasho, president of the East County Chaldean-American Chamber of Commerce, has posted a video on his Facebook page to show what Iraq was like before the war and the violence currently tearing the nation apart.  He writes,

"A lot of people always ask me what IRAQ was like before U.S. intervention. I always hear the same things; Was it all desert? Was it hard to live there? Was it safe? Was it clean? Sometimes I wondered if they thought we were nomads living in tents. Perhaps even huddled on a sidewalk somewhere begging for change.

I am glad to see this video being made. For those who have never been to IRAQ pre U.S. occupation, this should serve as a great visual tool." 

EAST COUNTY CHALDEAN CHAMBER ISSUES STATEMENT ON IRAQ: KALASHO CALLS FOR EQUAL TREATMENT OF MEN AND WOMEN IN MIDDLE EAST

 

June 25, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) –The  San Diego East County Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce has issued a statement on the escalating violence in Iraq.

EAST COUNTY'S CHALDEAN CHAMBER AWARDED TRADEMARK AMID CONTINUING DISPUTE

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 7, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—The U.S. Patent and Trademark office has issued a trademark to the San Diego East County Chaldean Chamber of Commerce.

IRAQI ELECTIONS APRIL 30; LOCAL VOTING APRIL 27 & 28 IN EL CAJON

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 25, 2014 (El Cajon) – Iraq will hold elections for parliamentary offices including Prime Minister on April 30.  All Iraqi-born people living in the U.S. are eligible to vote, the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce announced today.  Locally, eligible voters can cast their ballots on April 27-28 at the Crystal Ballroom, 414 North Magnolia Avenue in El Cajon from 12-2 p.m.

“This is arguably the biggest election since the fall of Saddam Hussein due to the unique circumstance of post-troop withdraw and immense violence,” said Ben Kalasho, president of the Chamber.

CHRISTIAN VOTERS POLITICAL PAMPHLET SENT BY DEMOCRATIC BACKER IN EL CAJON VIOLATED CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW, FPPC ENFORCEMENT OFFICER ADVISES

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 23, 2014 (El Cajon)—The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is weighing a proposed stipulation order that if signed, would impose a $2,000 fine against Bonnie Burns Price for a mailer from “ Christian Voters for a More Transparent Government in East County."  Price is the former chair of the East County Democratic Club and a supporter of Ben Kalasho, a candidate who ran for El Cajon Council and lost by a narrow margin in 2012.

IRAQI CHALDEANS FORM NEW CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

By Miriam Raftery

December 5, 2013 (El Cajon ) – The newly formed San Diego East County Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce has elected Ben Kalasho as president during the organization’s gala event at Sycuan Resort on November 22.   Kalasho hailed the event, which drew about 100 attendees, as “a great turn out of professional movers and shakers.”

CANDIDATES FOR EL CAJON COUNCIL REFLECT DIVERSE POPULATIONS AND VIEWS

Photo:  Ben Kalasho, Instar Bales, Humbert Cabrera, and Vickie Butcher are among 27 candidates vying for appointment to the El Cajon City Council.

By Miriam Raftery

December 12, 2013 (El Cajon) – Twenty-seven El Cajon residents have applied to fill an open seat on the El Cajon City Council.  This past Tuesday night, Council members interviewed half of the applicants during the Council meeting.  The rest will be interviewed next Tuesday at 6 p.m.

The candidates came from all walks of life – reflecting diverse races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, political parties and economic status.

WELLS APPOINTED MAYOR IN EL CAJON, OPENING COUNCIL VACANCY

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 13, 2013 (El Cajon )--El Cajon’s City Council voted unanimously yesetrday to appoint Councilman Bill Wells to fill the vacancy left by Mayor Mark Lewis’s resignation.  Council also voted to have an application and list of qualifications drawn up within a week for residents interested in seeking appointment to fill the vacancy on the City Council  left by Wells’ ascension to mayor.

A crowd filled the Council Chambers, with many community members came to voice their views on how the city should fill its leadership positions.

ELECTION WRAP-UP: TWO CLOSE RACES RESOLVED AS BILBRAY, DANON CONCEDE DEFEAT; SEVERAL EAST COUNTY RACES REMAIN TIGHT

By Nadin Abbott

As the vote counting countinues, the margins in two hotly contested East County races have narrowed, while just three votes separate candidates in another local race. 

Two high profile contests, however, are now resolved.

TWO INCUMBENTS WIN HANDILY IN EL CAJON; THIRD SEAT STILL IN CONTENTION AS REGISTRAR COUNTS REMAINING ABSENTEE AND PROVISIONAL BALLOTS

Update November 8, 2012,  5 p.m.:  McClellan's lead has grown to over 600 votes, making it appear likely that he has secured reelection.

November 8, 2012 (El Cajon) – Councilmen Tony Ambrose and Bill Wells  appear to have won reelection to the El Cajon City Council, while Councilman Bob McClellan retains a slim 114-vote lead over challenger Ben Kalasho. The Registrar of Voters still has 475,000 absentee and provisional ballots left countywide to count.  Asked how many are in El Cajon, the Registrar’s office declined to provide that information but said updates will be posted daily at http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/voters/results/election.xml. The election must be certified by December 4, meaning close races could take weeks before a final outcome will be know.

WELLS, AMBROSE WIN REELECTION IN EL CAJON; MCCLELLAN LEADS KALASHO BY SLIM MARGIN

November 7, 2012 (El Cajon )—In one of the few victories for local conservatives thus far in the November 2012 elecitons, Councilmembers Tony Ambrose and Bill Wells have won reelection to the El Cajon City Council with 18.25% and 16.26% of the vote in the 8-person field. Councilman Bob McClellan is the likely victor in the third seat, with a narrow edge over challenger Ben Kalasho, 14.95% to 13.95%.

ONE STOP SHOP FOR EL CAJON VOTERS: FULL COVERAGE OF COUNCIL CANDIDATES

October 10, 2012 (El Cajon)--Eight candidates are vying for three seats on the El Cajon City Council in a hotly contested race: incumbents Tony Ambrose, Bob McClellan and Bill Wells and challengers Ben Kalasho, Lily Schworm, Kathy Spacone, Chris Shamoon and Duane Swainston.

ECM invited all candidates to be interviewed; six responded.  Below are our in-depth interviews with candidates, listed in alphabetical order. In addition, here are links to coverage of a candidate forum, as well as candidates’ websites and Smart Voter pages from the League of Women Voters, prior stories on candidates who ran before, and additional news stories.

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